Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems ResearchTitle: Unlikely alliances and their implications for resource management in the American West
|HILLIS, A - Boise State University|
|BERRY, KATE - University Of Nevada|
|SOUZA LEAO SWETTE, BRIANA - Stanford University|
|ASLAN, CLARE - Northern Arizona University|
|BERRY, SHEILA - University Of California - Cooperative Extension Service|
Submitted to: Environmental Research Letters
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/24/2020
Publication Date: 5/4/2020
Citation: Hillis, A.V., Berry, K., Souza Leao Swette, B., Aslan, C., Berry, S., Porensky, L.M. 2020. Unlikely alliances and their implications for resource management in the American West. Environmental Research Letters. 15(4):045002. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab6fbc.
Interpretive Summary: Collaborative governance of natural resources is increasingly common in the American West, where patchworks of public, private, and tribal interests intersect. In this context, unlikely alliances, or partnerships among diverse actors who have historically been at odds, have a growing potential to impact communities and the environment. Relatively little research has synthesized the importance of unlikely alliances across diverse contexts. In this paper, based on a review of the literature, we develop a framework to understand the factors that shape unlikely alliances and their impacts. We illustrate this framework using seven case studies from across the region. Our analysis suggests that unlikely alliances arise in the presence of a crisis, when appropriate leadership is present, when some participants have a history of previous interaction, and when pooling resources is beneficial. Common outcomes of unlikely alliances include positive environmental impacts, transformed social relationships, changes to environmental policy, and shifts in power structures. We discuss the role of unlikely alliances for the future of resource governance in a changing American West.
Technical Abstract: Collaborative, or participatory governance is an increasingly common means of addressing natural resource issues and conflicts, especially in the American West where patchworks of public, private, and tribal interests characterize the region’s lands and resources. In this context, unlikely alliances, or partnerships among diverse actors who have historically been at odds, have a growing potential to shape social and environmental outcomes. While these unlikely alliances have received greater attention in recent years, relatively little research has worked to synthesize the concept across diverse contexts and disciplines. Based on a review of the literature on unlikely alliances in natural resource governance, we develop a framework that synthesizes the individual motivations and contextual factors that influence their formation, as well as the social and ecological outcomes that they create. We use this framework to analyse seven illustrative cases of unlikely alliances. Our analysis suggests that unlikely alliances in the American West are likely to arise in the presence of a crisis, when appropriate leadership is present, when some of the actors have a history of previous alliance, and when motivated by a desire to pool resources. Common outcomes include environmental improvement, transformation of social networks, policy change, and shifts in power relationships. We discuss the role of unlikely alliances in the social-ecological future of the American West. Our paper highlights the role of unlikely alliances in shaping patterns of natural resource governance, and provides a focus for further research in this realm.