Presented by Dr. Forrest D. Fleischman, Dept. of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University
Abstract: Government officials are key actors in the process of conservation in most parts of the world, yet there is relatively little research examining how they carry out conservation programs. In this paper I present the results of a year-long ethnographic study of forester decision-making in Central India, and use this to develop a typology of the kinds of political influences conservation managers face in their work. Although much research has emphasized the importance of developing bottom-up engagement in conservation programs, I find that whether the political influence comes from above or from below, it is likely to have negative effects if it has narrow, particularistic goals. By contrast, I find that in the Indian context constructive engagement is encouraged by competitive electoral politics and the presence of political entrepreneurs.
Biography: Forrest Fleischman is an Assistant Professor in natural resource & ecosystem policy in the department of Ecosystem Science & Management at Texas A&M University. His research focuses on understanding how political influences impact the decision-making of natural resource managers at small and large scales, with the goal of understanding how natural resource management policies can be improved. His current research focuses on two areas. The first focus is on forest manager decision-making within the context of large bureaucratic agencies. He uses ethnographic methods to study how foresters employed in India’s large centralized forest bureaucracies are influenced by the broader political economy of India as they make decisions about a diversity of public programs, and he is developing survey methods that will enable him to compare these findings with foresters and other environmental regulators in other countries, including the United States and Mexico. The second focus is on understanding how environmental governance works at large scales. As part of the Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database (SESMAD) team, he is developing a protocol that will enable the comparison of national forest management regimes across the tropics, with the goal of informing global carbon policy.
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