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Property rights and collective action in watersheds

  • Knox, A.
  • Swallow, B. M.
  • Johnson, N.
  • Meinzen-Dick, R.

Watersheds define a terrain united by the flow of water, nutrients, pollutants and sediment.&nbsp; Watersheds also link foresters, farmers, fishers and urban dwellers in intricate social relationships.&nbsp; Both factors - the biophysical attributes and the policy and environments - shape people's livelihoods and interactions within the watershed.<br /> <br /> Watersheds are simultaneously managed at various social and spacial scales, from community-level catchments to transnational river systems and lake basins.&nbsp; The flow of water, soilds, nutrients and other materials across a landscape extends the consequences of decisions about resource use well beyond the individual land user or manager.&nbsp; These flows produce both positive and negative downstream outcomes (or externalities).&nbsp; Upstream pollution by agricultural chemicals can expose downstream users to economic and health costs.&nbsp; More positively, upstream soil erosion can transport fertile soil that can enrich downstream rice paddies or other fields.&nbsp; Because watersheds have such broad impacts at so many levels, they raise special issues for the management of resources through property rights and collective action.

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    International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) 2020 Collective action and property rights for sustainable development: Focus 11, Brief 12 of 16, February 2004: http://www.ifpri.org/2020/focus/focus11/focus11_12.pdf