Political Ecology Methods

It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that consumption of natural resources will result in unpredicted consequences for humanity. That is why federal as well as local governments promote a direct political intervention in controlling natural resources. Nevertheless, this intervention is hindered by hard combinability of social and natural sciences that create a theoretical foundation for a desired governmental intervention. A tendency to make natural resources more politically-driven resulted in dramatic discrepancies in methodology. This evidence has been confirmed with a scientific community, and appropriate reaction to the issue has also emerged. In such a way, an article “Analyzing Decentralized Natural Resource Governance” by Floriane Clement (2009) also indicated another, more harmful trend. Natural resource management tries to balance political and environmental perspectives since a lack of any aspect will be negatively reflected on credibility of regulations. Thus, a current state of natural resource management demonstrates a strong presence of political perspective that disables social and natural sciences to merge for addressing environmental issues.


An overall analysis of the presented article in a combination with supplementary sources shows that contemporary social and natural sciences are still hardly combinable. First of all, an excessively proactive focus on a political perspective should be indicated. Governments and related organizations attempt to implement various policies without a profound consideration of environmental aspect. Appliance of diverse policies does not render sufficient knowledge about environmental changes and patterns according to which natural resources are consumed. Undoubtedly, a political desire to regulate and rationalize consumption of natural resources is apparent, but a modern natural resource management does not depict a problem from the environmental perspective. Governments and related executive groups are strongly convinced that an appropriate policing matters. It is certainly not true, as long as numerous discrepancies in governmental frameworks are always found. Thus, an entirely different approach has to be taken.

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As a consequence, political ecology methods are mainly oriented at rationalization of natural resources consumption. Hence, governments do not assume that a possibility to enlarge or at least leverage availability of natural resources exists. To the greatest extent, all efforts aimed at deployment of effective policing should be redirected toward implementation of technologies and models that will be able to supply natural resource base or at least present a credible alternative to them. In other words, production of natural resources can be hypothetically emulated. One may argue that such solution aggressively contradicts basic natural laws, but it is worth saying that designing of the suggested alternatives requires a deep understanding of environmental changes, so that humanity will be able to adjust to upcoming changes in the environment. Nevertheless, an evident disregard of environmental perspective can be traced at all political and organizational levels. This issue is also caused by an external factor.

In fact, a strong lack of territorial and methodological unification is also a problem, which thwarts governments in relatively reasonable management of natural resources. Every single political as well as ecology-related entity recognizes the problem in different ways. Thus, entirely opposite approaches to its solution emerge but do not contribute much to the overall progress. While territorial separation is obviously natural, lack of consistency in methodology can be explained with the fact that communication between top regulators and local executives is fairly weak. In the light of declined top-down approaches to solution of the problem, bottom-up frameworks seem not to work because of excessive independence of local executive groups and direct users of natural resources. These factors make a so-called marginalization of natural resource management. For example, lack of sufficient NRM policies in South African countries results in illegal harvest collection and fishing, which exarcerbates spread of famine. In highly developed countires, marginalization produces less harmful impacts, but its destructive effect is evident. Even the most up-to-date methodology includes gaps that allow acting regardless the established policies concerning consumption of natural resources. Hence, governments need to return to more top-down regulation of natural resource management.

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Most Prominent Focus

Apparently, political focus is the most prominent. Intrusion of politics in environmental issues has become a distinct trend in recent years that is why coverage of political perspective is persistent nowadays. This trend is also followed with research community, as it has obtained entirely new field of research . By the same token, focusing on a political side of the problem presupposes a strategic agenda. For instance, political entities, which demonstrate their strong environmental awareness, are regarded as more credible. Business representatives also react on this message in the same way because they expect these political entities to promote more favorable conditions for accessing natural resources. In consequence, all stakeholders actually seek for gaining economic advantages rather than preserving natural resources. Focusing on a political perspective implies that there is a possibility to evade NRM regulations.

Likewise, capitalism form of business and ownership also contributes to prominence of political focus. Capitalism, as independent economy school, suggests investing in a particular resource with a further collection of profits that are substantially larger. Each stakeholder realizes this principle to a different extent. Therefore, attempts to optimize politically-based framework presuppose less investing expenditures. Generally speaking, a current methodology of natural resource management keeps trying to gain as much natural resources as possible with less effort for their preservation. For example, Maine state government attempts to limit lobster fishing without introducing any solution to restoring a balance of lobster population. Henceforth, consumption of lobsters in the area will remain the same while population of lobsters will decrease. Investing in preservation of natural resources will result in benefits in the long-term perspective, which is why politically-prominent framework is deployed. However, environmentally-based methodology may require investments and related work to be done, which should last for more than one generation. A complexity of this requirement does not deny a feasibility of the task, so that political framework enables governments to solve short-term issues, which will emerge later again.

Besides that, deviation from top-down control of natural resources management caused an excessive liberalization of local executive groups. Governments fail to understand that dealing with natural resources is not similar to regulating business. As a matter of fact, preservation of natural resources should be strictly controlled. Under these circumstances, environmental perspective does not receive an appropriate attention because political entities consider natural resources in the same way as local businesses. Provided that liberalization of business results in distinct benefits for entrepreneurs as well as the government, preservation of natural resources has to be controlled in the opposite way. Top-down control does not deprive local representatives of participation while potential users of resources will be not limited to an extent which makes consumption of natural resources unprofitable. Overall, political perspective of natural resource management should eliminate any agenda applied and focus on integration with environmental aspects of the issue.

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Additional Challenges

To speak about additional challenges that prevent social and natural sciences from a complex cooperation is unstable data. Different locations are peculiar owing to their unique natural conditions, which change extremely fast. Thus, researchers are unable to detect a stable source of data. In the same way, a situation of natural resources consumption also differs from state to state, which is why all data are hard to collect for a complex analysis. At any rate, these issues are a matter of appliance appropriate research methodology, which is a feasible task for a contemporary science community. As it has been mentioned earlier, natural resources management should reduce presence of a political agenda and become more environmentally-driven. In the same vein, a more top-down regulation model is needed, as long as it will provide unified collection of data.

To return to the subject of a vague methodology, it is appropriate to mention that it also causes impossibility to allocate costs for related initiatives. Simultaneous implementation of social and natural sciences for purposes of natural resources preservation is not a regular initiative, which is why it is not recognized as an independent governmentally-funded activity. That leads to ineffective development of the environmental as well as political framework. A possibility to bridge social and natural sciences for this purpose is hypothetically present, but its real fulfilment depends heavily on the question of costs and measurements of performance. Regarding that, a modern framework for natural resource management is recommended to be entirely amended. In addition, a contemporary framework lacks distinct objectives, which naturally vary depending on location and type of natural resources. Specification of central objectives will reflect on a more vivid understanding of costs needs and metrics for evaluating performance concerning environmental as well as political perspectives.

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It is appropriate to make a general comment on the fact that connection between social and natural sciences is extremely weak. A strong presence of political orientation can be observed, thereby creating a field for developing frameworks particularly oriented toenhancing policing of natural resource management. Environmental perspective is not paid appropriate attention, so that politically-based methodologies deal with short-term problems that keep emerging later again, though. To the largest extent, little care is rendered to preservation of natural resources because of unreasonably liberal regulative body. Natural resource management is not the same concept as business or governance, which is why it is supposed to be strictly controlled for purposes of unification, alignment, and orientation to specific objectives. For the same reasons, current frameworks are inefficient as they do not address distinct issues of NRM. Finally, impossibility to reasonably allocate costs that results in a vague methodological planning should be admitted.

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