Linked projects


Mobilization of knowledge in Competing Claims contexts:

Enhancing the contribution of science to resource-use negotiations

Natural Resource Management (NRM) and land use planning are complex decision making processes in which stakeholders negotiate over competing claims. Stakeholders mobilize knowledge in such decision-making and resource-use negotiation processes in order to form coalitions, pursue their goals and create ‘space for change’. However, little is known about how the strategic use of knowledge influences the negotiation space for stakeholders that influences the outcome of negotiations. The objective of this study is to contribute to a better understanding of how stakeholders strategically mobilize knowledge in natural resource management negotiations. It seeks to generate insights in the existing types of knowledge, their mobilization and use in designing solutions for multi-stakeholder processes in competing claim contexts. Studying the use and contribution of these different types of knowledge will provide insight in the characteristics, factors and processes that influence the use of scientific knowledge in resource-use negotiation. This will lead to recommendations on how to enhance the contribution of science to resource-use negotiation. This research is based on a comparative case study approach. Two case studies will be conducted within existing Competing Claims research sites. A third case study will be selected in the Netherlands.

PhD researcher: Marc Schut (MSc), Communication & Innovation Studies group (CIS), Wageningen University

Project financed by the knowledge base fund of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

Modeling resilience of agro-ecosystems: Transformability in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

The combination of population increase and natural resource conservation has always been difficult. According to Cumming et al. (2006) a critical threshold of population density has been crossed in the area of the GLTP. Next to these internal dynamics the area has been designed to become a corridor between national parks. This will put extra pressure on the already existing claims on natural resources. When ecological, economic, or social (including political) conditions make the existing system untenable, then the capacity to create a fundamentally new system is called transformability (Walker et al. 2004). Transformability is seen as an essential element in socio-ecological resilience. This study provides a possibility to study the effect of experiences of crisis and surprises on the transformability of agro-ecosystems. This study is part of a larger PhD project ‘Modeling resilience of agro-ecosystems’. In the search for understanding agro-ecosystem dynamics we derived from complex systems thinking three propositions:

  1. 1)Agro-ecosystems have emergent properties that cannot be understood from the separate analysis of their social and ecological parts.

  2. 2)Agro-ecosystems are produced by co-evolution of social systems and ecosystems.

  3. 3)Agro-ecosystem dynamics are critically determined by cross-scale interactions.

Figure 1. Generalized model of threshold interactions showing all possible combinations of domains and scales and possible interactions between regime shifts at various domain-scale combinations. Figure by Kinzig et al. (2006)

The propositions are explored in the Competing Claims on natural resources research programme. This part of the research will be done in cooperation with > C. Murungweni.

PhD researcher: Dirk van Apeldoorn (MSc), Land Dynamics group (LAD), Wageningen University.

Project financed by Agroforum and the Dutch inter-ministerial BSIK fund.


Cumming, G.S., D.H.M. Cumming and C.L. Redman 2006. ‘Scale mismatches in social-ecological systems: Causes, consequences, and solutions’, Ecology & Society 11(1). [online] URL:

Kinzig, A.P., P. Ryan, M. Etienne, H. Allison, T. Elmqvist and B.H. Walker. 2006. ‘Resilience and regime shifts: Assessing cascading effects’, Ecology & Society 11(1). [online] URL:

Walker, B., C.S. Holling, S.R. Carpenter & A. Kinzig. 2004. ‘Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social-ecological systems’, Ecology & Society 9(2). [online] URL:



click on

this side bar to

return to >projects