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Ecological restoration of rural landscapes: stewardship, governance, and fairness

Martin, Paul
Restoration ecology 2016 v.24 no.5 pp. 680-685
ecological restoration, environmental policy, farmers, governance, land tenure, land use, landscapes, public policy, research policy
Much rural environmental policy reflects a largely unquestioned belief that if farmers' stewardship ethos could be improved, unsustainable land use would largely be resolved. This article suggests that though a high level of farmer commitment to sustainable land use is necessary for effective stewardship, this is far from sufficient to achieve the desired ends. This article highlights institutional challenges that are not being adequately addressed and poses unanswered questions for public policy and research. These arise from issues that include land tenure norms and rules; governance complexity and fragmentation causing transaction costs and frustration; and problems of fairness related partly to the economic incapacity of some landholders to do what is needed for sustainable land use. This article suggests rural natural resource governance should consider more carefully the accountability of government and the socioeconomic issues of rural sustainability.