Special Issue "Community, Natural Resources, and Sustainability: An Interdisciplinary and International Dialogue"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Hua Qin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Division of Applied Social Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
Interests: population and environment; vulnerability and adaptation to climate change; community and natural resources; risk and disaster; sustainable development; research methods and statistics
Dr. Jessica D. Ulrich-Schad
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Sociology and Rural Studies, South Dakota State University, USA
Interests: community; environment/natural resources; survey methodology; rural sociology
Dr. David Matarrita-Cascante
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, USA
Interests: community sociology; amenity migration; resource dependent communities

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Natural resource-based communities (communities with intimate ties to natural resources) are uniquely situated in the intersection of human society and the environment. Community related theories and approaches have been increasingly employed by researchers from a range of disciplines to study natural resource use and management in both developing and developed country settings. Due to the diverse perspectives and interests involved in the study of community and natural resources, there are considerable variations in the conception of the core concept community, research methods, and empirical findings, while synthesis across disciplinary lineages and development contexts is largely limited. As a concrete dimension of sustainability and sustainable development, community sustainability provides an overarching framework to bridging and integrating research on the multifaceted community–resources nexus. This Special Issue seeks to engage an interdisciplinary and international dialogue on the interrelationships of society, natural resources, and sustainability at the community level. We invite theoretical, empirical, and methodological research articles as well as practice-based papers that address a variety of relevant topics including but not limited to: (1) the relationships between natural resource dependency and community sustainability (or more specific aspects such as community vulnerability/adaptation, community capitals, and community resilience); (2) community approaches to common-pool or public natural resource management (e.g., community-based natural resource management or community involvement in resource management); (3) the impacts of demographic change (e.g., labor out-migration and amenity migration) on community and natural resources; (4) community responses to natural resource-related shocks/stressors (e.g., floods, wildfires, and forest insect disturbances) or resource-based growth (e.g., energy or tourism development); and (5) community contextual effects on individual natural resource-related attitudes and behavior. Studies using an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary approach, collaborative and comparative field-based research, and creative systematic reviews and meta-analyses are particularly encouraged.

Dr. Hua Qin
Dr. Jessica D. Ulrich-Schad
Dr. David Matarrita-Cascante
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Community sustainability
  • Resource dependency
  • Natural resource management
  • Demographic change
  • Community impacts
  • Community context
  • Sustainable development

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Community, Natural Resources, and Sustainability: Overview of an Interdisciplinary and International Literature
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1061; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031061 - 03 Feb 2020
Abstract
The Special Issue Community, Natural Resources, and Sustainability seeks to engage in an interdisciplinary and international dialogue on the interrelationships of society, natural resources, and sustainability at the community level. In addition to introducing the twelve research articles published in this collection, we [...] Read more.
The Special Issue Community, Natural Resources, and Sustainability seeks to engage in an interdisciplinary and international dialogue on the interrelationships of society, natural resources, and sustainability at the community level. In addition to introducing the twelve research articles published in this collection, we provide an overview of the existing literature on community and natural resource management, mainly through a review of previous reviews and a bibliometric analysis. While this literature is dominated by studies on various aspects of community-based natural resource management, the present Special Issue showcases multiple thematic areas of research that collectively contribute to a more complete understanding of the community-resources-sustainability linkages. Our review also pinpoints important gaps in existing meta-analyses and bibliometric analyses. Promising directions for future research are highlighted. Full article
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Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle
Effects of Community Perceptions and Institutional Capacity on Smallholder Farmers’ Responses to Water Scarcity: Evidence from Arid Northwestern China
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 483; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020483 - 17 Jan 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Community contextual factors including community perceptions and institutional capacity are among the key determinants in community-based water resource management. The Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework proposed by Ostrom is commonly employed to examine the outcome of common-pool resource management including water resources. [...] Read more.
Community contextual factors including community perceptions and institutional capacity are among the key determinants in community-based water resource management. The Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework proposed by Ostrom is commonly employed to examine the outcome of common-pool resource management including water resources. However, community perceptions typically examined in behavioral economics and comparative community analysis literature are rarely incorporated in institutional analysis studies. This study draws on the IAD framework to investigate smallholder farmer communities’ responses to water scarcity in arid northwestern China. Adopting alternating multiple regression and multivariate regression models, this study conducts an empirical analysis using farmer survey data. The results show that the perceptions of water scarcity promote community actions in coping with water shortage. The perception of production risks encourages overall community responses, as well as farming- and irrigation-related responses. Communities with a stronger institutional enforcement are more responsive in taking farming-, irrigation-, and infrastructure-related actions, as well as having better overall responses. The analysis also shows that community interactional capacities and socio-economic factors may influence community actions to mitigate and adapt to adverse effects of local water scarcity. Our findings provide insights for understanding social and institutional aspects of rural farming communities toward sustainable response decisions to overcome water scarcity challenges. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Invented Communities and Social Vulnerability: The Local Post-Disaster Dynamics of Extreme Environmental Events
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4457; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124457 - 27 Nov 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
This paper investigates post-disaster dynamics at the local level, in particular how local identity and social cohesion are affected after an extreme event. A particular case is investigated: the largest forest fire in modern Swedish history, which took place in 2014. The empirical [...] Read more.
This paper investigates post-disaster dynamics at the local level, in particular how local identity and social cohesion are affected after an extreme event. A particular case is investigated: the largest forest fire in modern Swedish history, which took place in 2014. The empirical material consists of interviews with forest professionals and organizations involved with the fire or the post-fire work and a postal survey to all people directly affected by the wildfire. The analysis finds that the experience of the wildfire and its social interpretation led to the invention of a particular community identity, one that strengthened the self-understanding of the community. Thus, the post-disaster dynamics are pivotal for what social practices that emerge and what local identities are invented and thus may greatly affect the capacity of a community to handle extreme events. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Upland Livelihoods between Local Land and Global Labour Market Dependencies: Evidence from Northern Chin State, Myanmar
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3707; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103707 - 16 Oct 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Livelihoods and agrarian change processes across upland South-East Asia have been explored for decades. Yet, knowledge gaps remain about contemporary livelihood strategies and land dependence in areas previously inaccessible to academic research, such as in upland Myanmar. Moreover, new strands of inquiry arise [...] Read more.
Livelihoods and agrarian change processes across upland South-East Asia have been explored for decades. Yet, knowledge gaps remain about contemporary livelihood strategies and land dependence in areas previously inaccessible to academic research, such as in upland Myanmar. Moreover, new strands of inquiry arise with continued globalisation, e.g., into the effects of remittances and labour migration on household incomes and livelihoods in distant upland areas. This study applied clustering techniques to income accounts of 94 households from northern Chin State, Myanmar to: (i) Identify households’ livelihood strategies; (ii) assess their dependence on access to land and natural resources; and (iii) compare absolute and relative incomes across strategies. We show that households engaged in six relatively distinct livelihood strategies: Relying primarily on own farming activities; making a living off the land with mixed income from agriculture and forest resources; engaging in wage employment; living from remittances; practicing non-forest tree husbandry; or engaging in self-employed business activities. We found significant income inequalities across clusters, with households engaging in remittance and wage-oriented livelihood strategies realizing higher incomes than those primarily involved in land-based activities. Our findings point to differentiated vulnerabilities associated with the identified livelihood strategies—to climate risks, shifting land-governance regimes and labour market forces. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
“Parknerships” for Sustainable Relevance: Perspectives from the San Francisco Bay Area
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1577; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051577 - 15 May 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
“Parknerships” (park partnerships) are an innovative means of enhancing people’s connections with conserved spaces and stories, drawing on the combined strengths of multiple organizations. As a specific type of collaboration, a parknership is focused among parks-related organizations sharing common goals of building positive [...] Read more.
“Parknerships” (park partnerships) are an innovative means of enhancing people’s connections with conserved spaces and stories, drawing on the combined strengths of multiple organizations. As a specific type of collaboration, a parknership is focused among parks-related organizations sharing common goals of building positive experiences for individuals, the community, and the environment. The need for parknerships is heightened in complex settings like urban areas, and with national organizations concerned with local relevance, such as the National Park Service (NPS). Although parknerships have emerged as a crucial mode of local connection and are increasingly highlighted in park guidance, scant information exists on what mechanisms contribute to their long-term, multi-effort success. We seek to address this by investigating what elements contribute to a sustainable and successful parknership. To frame this inquiry, we drew from the concept of relevance and framework of collective impact. Using semi-structured interviews (n = 14) with NPS and partners in the San Francisco Bay Area (an urban area with rich cultural diversity and long environmental history), we elicited understanding of sustainable parknerships. Participants emphasized the importance of the parknerships’ context, process, and goal. Consideration of these intersectional themes may be critical to sustainable, relevance-related collaborations among parknerships. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Fool’s Gold: Understanding Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts from Gold Mining in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1355; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051355 - 27 Apr 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
Extractive industries are often claimed to contribute to both poverty reduction and economic growth. Yet, there is also a body of research that suggests natural resource dependence can result in limited development, environmental degradation and social upheaval. This paper examines differences in the [...] Read more.
Extractive industries are often claimed to contribute to both poverty reduction and economic growth. Yet, there is also a body of research that suggests natural resource dependence can result in limited development, environmental degradation and social upheaval. This paper examines differences in the socioeconomic and environmental state of mining and non-mining communities in rural Vietnam in order to understand the extent to which mining contributes to livelihood development and socioeconomic well-being. In particular, we examine the role that “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) plays in supporting community development in Phuoc Son and Phu Ninh districts, Quang Nam province. Content analysis of newspapers, government documents and mining company reports provided a contextual overview of mining operations and community relations in each study area. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect information from local and regional stakeholders to further understand perceived impacts of mining operations on local communities. Our study finds that in comparison to non-mining communities, communities with active mines demonstrated increased job development, decreased poverty rates, enhanced infrastructure and social development along with increased incidences of CSR initiatives. However, a number of adverse effects from mining activities were reported including environmental degradation (e.g., deforestation, water pollution, etc.) increased criminal activity and drug addiction. Dependence on mine-related employment in local communities becomes acutely apparent when temporary mine closures result in widespread unemployment. Local governments may be the greatest beneficiaries of mining with increased tax revenues and enhanced management potential of leased land. Non-mining communities without direct benefits from mining activities maintained economic diversity and were therefore more resilient to economic shocks such as nearby mine closures. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Formation of a Community of Practice in the Watershed Scale, with Integrated Local Environmental Knowledge
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020404 - 04 Feb 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Rural communities around the world face formidable problems such as resource depletion, environmental degradation and economic decline. While the term ‘community’ is often used without clear definition or context, it can be viewed as a group of people emerging through social interaction. Through [...] Read more.
Rural communities around the world face formidable problems such as resource depletion, environmental degradation and economic decline. While the term ‘community’ is often used without clear definition or context, it can be viewed as a group of people emerging through social interaction. Through a series of collaborative action toward a shared goal, a community of practice can be formed. This paper proposes a hypothetical framework of integrated local environmental knowledge (ILEK), and applies it to analyze the processes of collaborative actions in the case of the Nishibetsu Watershed in Hokkaido, Japan. The case study identified several phases of actions, all initiated by a group of local residents on a grassroots and voluntary basis. These local resident-initiated collaborative actions had a particular confluence of elements to facilitate gradual strengthening of formal and informal institutions in the watershed scale beyond jurisdictional boundaries, making this a worthy case to study. The local residents used diverse types of knowledge, including livelihood-based technologies and skills of working as a group and with local governments, for establishing and strengthening various institutions for collaborative actions, with such knowledge being used in the manner of tools in a box of bricolage for community formation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Clan in Transition: Societal Changes of Villages in China from the Perspective of Water Pollution
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010150 - 10 Jan 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Societal relations in rural areas have entered into a new stage of adjustment over the past decade. However, the adjustment, which might bring about profound societal changes in countryside as well as in China as a whole, have not been paid much attention [...] Read more.
Societal relations in rural areas have entered into a new stage of adjustment over the past decade. However, the adjustment, which might bring about profound societal changes in countryside as well as in China as a whole, have not been paid much attention and very few studies have been conducted from the perspective of ecological resource crises. We use the case of a village as an example to show how water pollution, as one of the contributory factors, possibly affect the transition of clans and societal changes in Chinese villages. Through observation and interviews, we find that there is an apparent rise of “New Clanism” within clans, which gradually abandons the tradition of supremacy of clan interests and places family or individual interests at top priority. We also find that clan boundaries get increasingly obscure since the integrity of clans is undermined by the rise of new interest groups across clans, but the boundaries remain relatively clear due to the consistency (albeit incomplete) of clan interests. Some new clan élites and representatives of new interest groups get involved in village governance, which indicates that their goals have shifted from natural resources to social or political capital. The significance of our findings is that they provide not only a unique perspective for the interaction between society and resources, but also some new ideas for the future study of rural China at the environment-social interface. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Choice, Inclusion, and Access to Information: Understanding Female Farmers’ Participation in Kyrgyzstan’s Water-User Associations
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2346; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122346 - 15 Dec 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
Participatory processes have been widely promoted within the field of natural resource management as a method of supporting efficient resource use and, within these processes, much emphasis has been placed on gendered participation. In Kyrgyzstan, participation in irrigation management is organized through water-user [...] Read more.
Participatory processes have been widely promoted within the field of natural resource management as a method of supporting efficient resource use and, within these processes, much emphasis has been placed on gendered participation. In Kyrgyzstan, participation in irrigation management is organized through water-user associations (WUAs), a decentralized system of management commonly prescribed to increase equity and efficiency in water distribution. Women in Kyrgyzstan are active in irrigated agriculture particularly in light of changing demographics due to labor migration, yet they make up a small percentage of the members and leaders in these WUAs. This study draws upon interviews with WUA officials, village leaders, and female farmers in five communities in southern Kyrgyzstan to examine the determinants of female farmers’ participation in WUAs. We argue that female farmers are strategic in how they choose to irrigate outside of the WUAs as users or participate in WUAs as members or leaders, however their gender, age, and class limits their access to information about WUAs and inclusion in WUA activities. These findings suggest the need to reassess participatory processes in WUAs in order to increase female farmers’ inclusion in WUAs and demonstrates the complexity of gendered participation in natural resource management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Amenity/Lifestyle Migration in the Chilean Andes: Understanding the Views of “The Other” and Its Effects on Integrated Community Development
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1619; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9091619 - 12 Sep 2017
Cited by 5
Abstract
Within the context of domestic amenity/lifestyle migration, we are interested in understanding the way local rural residents and migrants: (1) view each other; and (2) how those views affect an integrated community development. Using alterity theory as a guiding framework, we engaged in [...] Read more.
Within the context of domestic amenity/lifestyle migration, we are interested in understanding the way local rural residents and migrants: (1) view each other; and (2) how those views affect an integrated community development. Using alterity theory as a guiding framework, we engaged in a qualitative study to examine such views and their effects along the lines of three axes: an epistemological (what people know about the other), an axiological (how people value the other), and a praxeological (how people interact with the other) one in the Chilean community of Malalcahuello. Findings suggests that, overall, both types of residents know little of the other, have and constantly reproduce negative value judgments of the other, and relate only in mundane non-significant ways. We provide explanations of how these relate to the reported diminished community development efforts in town. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Place-Based Rural Development and Resilience: A Lesson from a Small Community
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 889; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9060889 - 24 May 2017
Cited by 7
Abstract
Community resilience is central to reshaping the role and functions of rural areas; and development has increasingly come about via the capacity of communities to be resilient in the face of challenges. When policies designed and adopted in rural areas are place-based; these [...] Read more.
Community resilience is central to reshaping the role and functions of rural areas; and development has increasingly come about via the capacity of communities to be resilient in the face of challenges. When policies designed and adopted in rural areas are place-based; these policies should rely on resilient actors; belonging to resilient communities. The aim of this article is to focus on factors that can trigger or re-activate mechanisms that help to actively build resilience in areas that are heavily economically and socially impoverished using as a case study a very active and dynamic rural community. From the case study; three aspects emerge; all of which are closely interrelated; as having been particularly significant for building community resilience. The first was the rebuilding of previously frayed social ties within the community (growth of social capital and increased trust). The second was the ‘cascade effect’ of the first project started in the community; which led to the creation of many other initiatives. The third was the adoption of a systemic approach; able to bring together areas and sectors that had previously been disconnected (breaking down technical-legislative barriers). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Changing Community Variations in Perceptions and Activeness in Response to the Spruce Bark Beetle Outbreak in Alaska
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9010067 - 06 Jan 2017
Cited by 5
Abstract
Local sociocultural processes including community perceptions and actions represent the most visible social impacts of various economic and environmental changes. Comparative community analysis has been used to examine diverse community perspectives on a variety of socioeconomic and environmental issues. However, as the temporal [...] Read more.
Local sociocultural processes including community perceptions and actions represent the most visible social impacts of various economic and environmental changes. Comparative community analysis has been used to examine diverse community perspectives on a variety of socioeconomic and environmental issues. However, as the temporal dimension of community processes remains understudied, relatively little is known regarding how such community variations change over time. This study draws on longitudinal survey data from six communities on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska to explore temporal shifts in community differences in perceptions and activeness in response to forest disturbance associated with an extensive spruce bark beetle outbreak. The surveys were implemented in two phases over a 4-year study period. Results show that while community perceptions on the bark beetle condition waned and coalesced in some ways, significant differences remained or emerged with respect to other facets of local reactions. These shifting variances in community dimensions of the beetle disturbance were related to community positions along the beetle outbreak timeline and general community socioeconomic and biophysical situations (community context). The analysis also revealed community differences and contexts held an even more important role in predicting local responses to beetles in the re-survey. Taken together, findings from this research contribute a better understanding of the persistence and change in community variability as well as the continuity of community contextual effects. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Use and Perception of Podium Gardens in Residential Neighborhoods in Hong Kong
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9010057 - 01 Jan 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
This paper examines how a residential podium garden design can enhance the use of a garden and the satisfaction of its users. Two public and private housing estates are selected to analyze and compare spatial use and the perception of space in podium [...] Read more.
This paper examines how a residential podium garden design can enhance the use of a garden and the satisfaction of its users. Two public and private housing estates are selected to analyze and compare spatial use and the perception of space in podium gardens for public use. First, this paper explores the relationship between residential satisfaction and the physical conditions of podium gardens in public and private housing estates in Hong Kong. A total of 135 questionnaires are collected from two cohorts for each of these groups. People’s perceptions are compared with the physical conditions of the podium gardens. Second, this paper investigates how visibility and accessibility influence the quality and usability of podium gardens. The sense of community, safety and hygiene, and accessibility are examined and compared between public and private housing estate cohorts. In conclusion, opening a podium garden to public use can promote the degree of tolerance and enhance community cohesion. Regardless of whether a podium garden is open to the public or not, according to the responses, more people using the podium garden can increase its usability. Since public monitoring can enhance safety and hygiene, podium gardens should be highly visible from the surrounding buildings. A well-planned podium design thus can improve the social and physical qualities of living environments. Full article
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