Co-managing complex social-ecological systems in Tanzania : the case of Lake Jipe wetland

C.P.I. Mahonge

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


It has been conventional among co-management scientists to view social-ecological systems and actors and institutions found in these systems monolithically. Such a view is simplistic and conceals the complex nature of social-ecological systems and associated institutions and actors. In essence, a social-ecological system is a complex system comprised of multiple, diverse and dynamic social-ecological units, players and rules. This thesis entitled Co-managing complex social-ecological systems unveils the aforementioned complexity in which Lake Jipe wetland in Tanzania is the central case. This case depicts intra-, inter- and cross-scale interactions among multiple and dynamic institutions, actors and ecological systems at different dimensions of space and time. While some candidates of actors and institutions play separate roles, others play interdependent and linking roles across the multiple sectoral social-ecological units. The thesis introduces the layering concept of institutions and actors in three sectoral arrangements at Lake Jipe. It argues that not only do the institutions and actors found in social-ecological systems operate next to one another but also they work interdependently. This concept extends the existing knowledge of co-management practitioners and scholars about the diversity and complexity of inter-linked human-environment systems that traverse the current monolithic view and conceptual boundaries. As such, the thesis avoids a simplistic monolithic approach that may end up in superficial treatment of complex environmental management problem and sheds light on how to study and approach intricate social-ecological systems using models that recognise the diversities of these intricate systems.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Mol, Arthur, Promotor
  • Bush, Simon, Co-promotor
Award date22 Oct 2010
Place of Publication[S.l.
Print ISBNs9789085856528
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2010


  • environmental policy
  • ecology
  • wetlands
  • resource management
  • natural resources
  • social participation
  • management
  • fisheries
  • agricultural production
  • livestock farming
  • pastoralism
  • tanzania
  • africa south of sahara
  • community participation


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