Environmental Practice


RESEARCH ARTICLE: Co-Management of Natural Resources: Opportunities for and Barriers to Working with Citizen Volunteers

Ryan  Plummer  a1 c1 and Susan M.  Arai  a2
a1 Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
a2 Department of Community Health Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Article author query
plummer r   [Google Scholar] 
arai sm   [Google Scholar] 


Co-management is an innovative approach for managing the natural environment and providing opportunities for outdoor recreation. It combines the efforts of government agencies legally responsible for environmental quality with those of citizens and interest groups using such resources. This article documents the experiences gained from a co-management process involving the Tine River (a pseudonym) corridor in Ontario. The analysis focuses on revealing factors that fostered opportunities and presented barriers to the voluntary nature of the process. Sharing common objectives, the presence and characteristics of a network, and willingness to share information appear to create opportunities for continued involvement. Different perceptions of intent, particularly between nongovernment and government participants, and failure to fulfill commitments, appear to destroy opportunities for involvement by citizens. Implications from this study are particularly relevant to government agencies, which are identified in this particular case as being responsible for creating significant barriers to this new mode of operation through both past and current actions. Recommendations are made for environmental professionals to foster opportunities and limit barriers to working with volunteers in pursuing co-management.

Environmental Practice 7:221–234 (2005)

(Received November 17 2004)
(Revised September 12 2005)
(Accepted October 21 2005)

c1 Address correspondence to: Ryan Plummer, Associate Professor, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Ave., St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1; (fax) 905-984-4843; (e-mail) rplummer@brocku.ca.