Dealing with conflict: Natural resources and dispute resolution
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Conflicts over natural resources are becoming more frequent due to increasing populations, the clash between different value systems, and the greater economic and environmental demands on finite resources. The dynamics of conflict are complex as a result of interacting factors related to the parties involved, the nature of the resource, and the stage of development of the conflict. Where people are denied access to resources or are continually marginalised from resource-planning processes, disputes may escalate to civil strife. While the underlying causes of conflict may be clear, there is an urgent need for practical methods to address and resolve conflict. Mechanisms are required to promote understanding and cooperation of an increasing number of stakeholders, especially if resources are to be sustained to support present and future generations. The International Model Forest Network (IMFN) programme is one example of a multi-stakeholder approach in conflict prevention and resolution at the landscape level of resource management. The 'model forest' is essentially an experiment in partnership building. The programme is briefly described. It started in Canada in 1991 in order to address the challenges of sustainable forest management while taking into consideration economic, environmental, social and cultural needs, and was expanded a year later (at the 1992 UNCED Earth Summit) to include model forest initiatives in Mexico and the Russian Far East. The USA has recently joined the network. (CAB Abstract)
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