Towards resilience : differences in management practices between land managers adopting conventional approaches and holistic management

De Villiers, Ancois Carien (2013-03)

Thesis (MScConEcol)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Reductionism, an approach to understanding complex systems based on reducing the system to its individual components and the interactions between these components, is the linear and rigid approach to traditional management and research that allows us to understand complicated systems. Yet its application to complex systems has likely added to the degradation of social-ecological systems. In recognition of this, there is currently a shift to holism: the concept that a system is greater than the sum of its components and that the system has emergent properties that are only present through the complex interactions of the whole system. The inclusion of this natural complexity within social-ecological systems is thought to promote resilience – the ability of a system to absorb shock and thus promote sustainability. However, these concepts are largely theoretical and few examples exist that demonstrate ways of transferring them to pragmatic land management. Holistic ManagementTM (HM) could potentially be such a working example. It is a decision-making framework that provides a holistic context for the adaptive management of natural resources. However, limited peer-reviewed research has been applied to this potential to promote sustainability. Thus the current study aimed to address this apparent gap by determining if HM land managers were a distinct group from non-HM (NHM) land managers in regards to their management practices and if HM land managers had a greater adaptive capacity (the management of resilience) than non-HM land managers. The study was conducted in a community of livestock farmers in the arid rangelands of the Karoo, South Africa. Data were mainly gathered through face-to-face interviews with land managers – including 20 self-defined HM land managers and 20 self-defined NHM land managers. To compare the reported management approaches of land managers, two scoring systems were developed. The HM Adoption Index measured the extent to which participants were aligned with key principles and practices of HM (including having a holistic goal, testing decisions, applying the Holistic Planned Grazing, demonstrating continuous learning and innovation). The Adaptive Capacity Index measured the extent to which participants demonstrated key traits of adaptive capacity as identified from the literature. In addition, participants were also asked to describe the strategies they apply to deal with local livestock farming challenges including parasite control, predation management and drought management. A significant difference was found between HM and NHM land managers for both the HM Adoption Index and Adaptive Capacity Index (p<0.01). The majority of HM land managers adopted ―true holistic and ―adaptive management practices (80%) while NHM land managers were mostly ―semi holistic and ―coping (65%). HM land managers also notably tended to report more innovative and environmentally aware methods in dealing with farming challenges and were more likely to be part of study groups which build social capital and promote social learning. Results imply that HM provides a framework that introduces holistic principles to land management, making the holistic context and resilience accessible to individual managers for practical day-to-day decision-making.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Reduksie, 'n benadering om komplekse sisteme te verstaan deur om die sisteme te besnoei tot sy individuele komponente en interaksies tussen die komponente, is die liniêre en rigiede benadering tot tradisionele bestuur en navorsing. Dit laat ons toe om komplekse sisteme te verstaan. Tog het die toepassing van reduksie op komplekse sisteme waarskynlik bygedra tot die degradasie van sosiaal-ekologiese sisteme. In herkenning van laasgenoemde is daar tans 'n skuif na holisme: die konsep dat 'n sisteem groter is as die somtotaal van al sy komponente en dat die sisteem voortkomende eienskappe het wat net navorekom deur die komplekse interaksies van die sisteem. Die insluiting van die natuurlike kompleksiteit binne sosiaal-ekologiese sisteme bevorder moontlik weerstandigheid; die vermoë van 'n sisteem om 'n skok te absorbeer en so volhoubaarheid te bevorder. Hierdie konsepte is egter meestal teoreties en min voorbeelde bestaan wat metodes demonstreer om die konsepte oor te dra na pragmatiese grondbestuur. Holistiese BestuurTM (HB) kan moontlik so 'n werkende voorbeeld wees. Dit is 'n raamwerk vir besluitvorming wat 'n holistiese konteks verskaf vir die aanpasbare bestuur van natuurlike hulpbronne. Daar is min eweknie-hersiende navorsing wat HB se potensiaal om volhoubaarheid te bevorder ondersoek. Dus het die huidige studie beoog om die gaping aan te spreek deur te bepaal of HB praktiseerders onderskei kan word van 'n groep van nie-HB (NHB) praktiseerders in terme van bestuurspraktyke en of HB praktiseerders 'n groter aanpasbaarheid (die bestuur van weerstandigheid) toon as NHB praktiseerders. Die studie het plaasgevind in 'n gemeenskap van veeboere in die dorre veld van die Karoo, Suid Afrika. Data was versamel deur aangesig tot aangesig onderhoude met grondbestuurders; 20 self-geïdentifiseerde HB praktiseerders en 20 self-geïdentifiseerde NHB praktiseerders. Twee puntestelsels is ontwikkel om die gerapporteerde benaderings van grondbestuurders te vergelyk. Die HB Toepassing Puntelys het gemeet tot watter mate 'n deelnemer inskakel met die kern beginsels van HB (insluitend om 'n holistiese doelwit te hê, om besluite te toets, om Holistiese Beplande BewydingTM toe te pas en om 'n voortsetting van leer en innovasie te demonstreer). Die Aanpasbaarheid Puntelys het gemeet tot watter mate 'n deelnemer die kern kenmerke van aanpasbaarheid, soos geïdentifiseer in literatuur, demonstreer. Bykomend was deelnemers ook gevra om die strategieë te beskryf wat hulle toepas om die uitdagings van plaaslike veeboerdery tegemoed te kom insluitend die beheer van parasiete, die bestuur van roofdiere en die bestuur tydens droogtes. 'n Betekenisvolle verskil was gevind tussen HB en NHB praktiseerders vir die HB Toepassing Puntelys en die Aanpasbaarheid Puntelys (p<0.01). Die meederheid van HB praktiseerders het ―ware holistiese en ―aanpasbare praktyke toegepas (80%) terwyl NHB praktiseerders se metodes meestal ―semi-holisties en ―korttermyn probleem hantering was (65%). HB praktiseerders het ook 'n waarneembare neiging gehad om innoverende en omgewingsbewuste metodes te rapporteer in verband met veeboerdery uitdagings en was meer waarskynlik deel van 'n studie groep wat sosiale kapitaal gebou en sosiale leer bevorder het. Die resultate het aangedui dat HB 'n raamwerk voorsien wat holistiese beginsels oordra na grondbestuur en so die holistiese konteks en weerstandigheid toeganklik maak vir die individuele bestuurder vir daaglikse praktiese besluitneming en toepassing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/79824
This item appears in the following collections: