Social-ecological feedbacks lead to unsustainable lock-in in an inland fishery

Sarah Laborde, Alfonso Fernández, Sui Phang, Ian Hamilton, Nathaniel Henry, Hahn Chul Jung, Aboukar Mahamat, Mouadjamou Ahmadou, Bruna Labara, Saidou Kari, Michael Durand, Bryan Mark, Paul Scholte, Ningchuan Xiao, Roland Ziebe, Mark Moritz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This interdisciplinary paper presents an empirical analysis of techno-institutional lock-in in a regional fishery, in the Logone floodplain in the Far North Region of Cameroon. In the Logone floodplain, one fishing technique is spreading exponentially even though it is changing the social, hydrological and ecological dynamics of the system in ways that are largely considered problematic by local communities. We use a complex systems framework to analyze large hydrological and socio-economic datasets. Results show how social-ecological feedbacks foster the spread of the technique and contribute to the process of lock-in. The lock-in leads to a resistance to change despite awareness of the technique’s impact, a situation that may also be described as a social-ecological trap. We identify and explain four kinds of positive feedback loops relating to socio-economic, behavioral, demographic and hydrological processes, respectively. We also identify possible solutions that consider the complexity of the feedback loops across multiple dimensions of the floodplain system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-25
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume41
Early online date27 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

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