The University of Arizona

Collective action and ecological sensibility for sustainable mangrove governance in Indonesia: challenges and opportunities

Astrid Meilasari-Sugiana


Theorists of Common Pool Resources (CPR) management suggest that distribution and devolution of power can localize consequential decisions over natural resources. The Government of Indonesia has encouraged the collective management of natural resources through self-governed local communes. It has also argued for consensual decision making over the use, allocation and distribution of natural resources at the village, district and regency level. Devolution has not, however, given most people access to strategic and structural power to decide on natural resource governance. Two cases in South Sulawesi are discussed. In the case of the hunting of Sinjai's bats, devolution for collective governance was marked by contention, unfettered competition, and resource overutilization. Management of Sinjai's coastal mangroves, however, suggests that social institutions can stimulate social sensibility, encourage attachment to the natural landscape, and instigate collective responsibilities. Community members acted in a way that benefited the overall good, avowing individual rights. Barriers and enablers to sustainable natural resource governance emerged from the local context in each case, including assertion of private ownership of mangrove plots; they did not emerge as a consequence of distribution and devolution of power alone, as CPR theory suggests.

Keywords: Devolution, collective action, reciprocity, ecological sensibility, mangroves, South Sulawesi

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