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Title: Sustainability or status quo : an assessment of elite influence in the political ecology of Belizean mangroves
Author: Zisman, Simon
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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This research, by investigating the actions of mangrove stakeholders in Belize, reveals why the ruling elite who govern resource use rarely benefit from more sustainable exploitation, and how they resist attempts to achieve it. The context for this examination centres around a British bilateral and aid project aimed at implementing sustainable forest use and rational land allocation in Belize. This project followed in the wake of the UK's official adoption of the 'good governance' orthodoxy in its aid policy in 1991. Through observation, discussion and interaction with stakeholders, analysis of government land development records and scrutiny of particular development projects, the significance of elite stakeholders has been assessed over 1988-1995. This encompasses periods of government by both Belize's main political parties. The framework chosen for this evaluation is political ecology, a multi-scale and pluralistic approach that allows integrated assessment of elite activities and environmental, economic and socio-political influences. Inventory, mapping and analysis of patterns of land development in the coastal zone show that although Belize's mangroves remain largely intact, their degradation escalated between the late 1980s and early 1990s. Settlement expansion, aquaculture and tourism development were the main causes. Stakeholder analysis reveals that the ruling elite were heavily implicated in the first and last of these development types. By simultaneously filling political posts and maintaining their professional occupations as developers or lawyers, certain individuals were able to influence resource use in both private and public domains. As well as directly furthering their individual well-being, in all cases, they used their position to secure party-political support from elite groups and constituents, using various forms of patronage. Given the shortage of capital, state-owned natural assets are used as the currency of these patronage interactions, forcing the ruling elite to vigorously defend their control over decision-making processes affecting resource use. This socio-political framework severely inhibits the scope for policy intervention to promote sustainable development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available