Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy

PiN Framework

  1. The PiN approach to landscape assessments

PiN aims to promote the uptake of existing knowledge and to generate new knowledge on the interrelationships between humans and nature, focussing initially on the cultural and material use of species and their contributions to local livelihoods and well-being.

The PiN approach will document the benefits and values of the material and cultural uses of biodiversity, identify where biodiversity benefits (and costs) are located in the landscape, and how these benefits are realised and distributed.

PiN takes mixed methodology approach to assessment design and data collection, and landscape assessments will have an phased workflow, allowing teams to build upon existing knowledge and use qualitative and quantitative data collection methods as appropriate.

    1. A mixed methodology approach

The PiN mixed methodology workflow (Figure 3.1) has three sequential phases:

  • Phase I – a interdisciplinary situation analysis (ISA, is based in part, on earlier IUCN work, including Integrated Wetland Assessment Tool, Highland Aquatic Resources Conservation and Sustainable Development programmes, amongst others). The main purpose of the ISA is to contribute to the construction of a secondary data baseline that will serve as the basis for identifying knowledge gaps and designing data collection strategies according to the needs of the assessment, and avoiding the duplication of efforts. The ISA has four steps: establishing the assessment team; scoping the assessment; reviewing secondary data; and identifying further data requirements and defining data collection protocols for Phase II), and the output is a synthesis report.

  • Phase II – the collection of qualitative and quantitative data and cultural narratives. The purpose of Phase II is to undertake primary data collection to fill any remaining gaps in the empirical assessment by collecting complementary information on the biodiversity-based system and narratives about human–nature interrelationships. It is likely that some mix of natural and social science methods will be necessary to fill the information gaps identified in Phase I. The final output of Phase II is a synthesis that brings together biological, social, cultural, ecological and local knowledge of biodiversity, employing not only qualitative and quantitative data, but also the narratives of communities. The synthesis should describe both the current role that biodiversity plays in the livelihoods and well-being of stakeholders at the assessment site, and its potential role.

  • Phase III – a data integration and analysis process. Early in the process of PiN development it was recognised that using species as an analytical unit gave rise to the possibility to utilise the IUCN Species Information Service as a source of secondary data about use and conservation status of species and to develop a platform for linking secondary data sources. The Red List of Ecosystems may also provide information related to threats to ecosystems, and thus provide information about the availability and stability of biodiversity.

1.2 The biodiversity based system

The biodiversity-based system is the basis for the landscape assessment, and used to trace out the workings of a biodiversity-based system begins by identifying the biodiversity that is utilised.

Figure 2.1 Photo: People in Nature Figure 2.1 (source) illustrates landscape approach for understanding the linkage between use and biodiversity at various levels, with uses followed through four phases:

  • appropriation (e.g. hunting, harvesting);

  • transformation in to a secondary product (e.g. by butchering, drying, cooking);

  • exchange (e.g. trade, sale, barter, giving rise to commodity chains); and

  • consumption.

Understanding how biodiversity is currently used and its potential for future utilisation is essential to understanding the potential of nature to contribute to responses to change. Potential use incorporates historically utilised species, reported uses within similar environments and/or among similar cultural groups as well as currently used species.

Why previous use has been abandoned and why potential use is not realised can be analysed to help understand what determines use, as well as the potential of nature to contribute to new development paths. If current use is less than potential use, then there is potential for biodiversity to contribute to responses to change and play a role in the emergence of new development pathways.

Availability, stability, access and perception are the four analytical categories that are considered necessary to understand current and potential uses of biodiversity, and should be analysed within the four phases of appropriation, transformation, exchange and consumption.

Availability refers to the amount and quality of biodiversity available, or the supply of a species for appropriation, or that can potentially be used by people if other conditions (e.g. access, perception) are also met.

Stability refers to the reliability of the supply of biodiversity, and can be viewed as a stock, where availability is a flow. Stability is affected by both short and long term influences; for example, the short term stability of species may refer to seasonal variations, while long term stability would refer to the variations in species abundance.

Access refers to ‘the ability to benefit from things – including material objects, persons, institutions, and symbols’. Within PiN, understanding access requires the mapping of access to biodiversity and the distribution of benefits from production or extraction, transformation, exchange and consumption amongst the actors involved. Access is inextricably linked with governance, and can only be understood in terms of the relative power of individuals and groups to exercise their rights, and so should be examined in a highly disaggregated manner.

Perception refers to an individual’s awareness of something as the result of their practical interrelationships with nature in their everyday life. Perception affects all four phases of use, and is concerned specifically with how cultural and idiosyncratic understandings (not material presence in the environment) affect flows of biodiversity. Perception is used to address cultural processes (a gap in other frameworks).

While culture has often been considered as a distinct category of value people hold in relation to nature, using perception as an analytical category allows cultural processes to be brought into the understanding of use and potential use – provisioning is cultural. Perception is developed through cultural processes, via the values that influence how people interact with biodiversity (e.g. what animals can be hunted) and as instrumental knowledge about biodiversity (e.g. the skills and knowledge necessary to hunt and to process what is hunted).

Examining availability, stability, access and perception helps to identify the factors that affect flows of biodiversity at present, as well as historically, and potentially in the future.

1.3 Features of the PiN approach: social aspects

The first phase of PiN gave primary attention to the development of the biodiversity-based system. Further development of the conceptual framework in this second phase of PiN will focus on determining what the benefits derived from the use of biodiversity are, how they are, or can be, realised and distributed, in addition to consolidation and testing of the existing well-developed parts of the framework.

This will help to develop a robust approach to differentiating values and impacts arising from changes in the availability and/or management of biodiversity (i.e. the distribution of benefits and costs based on age, class and gender, etc.) and incorporating the dynamic nature of those interrelationships.

A specific framework will be developed for the exploration of impacts on the lives and livelihoods of individuals, households, groups and communities, to provide an understanding of how changes may affect their human–nature interrelationships, so that local priorities and choices about development pathways can help to mitigate or minimise any negative impacts, and strengthen positive impacts.

This will involve an examination of how identified material and cultural uses contribute to the lives and livelihoods of the individuals, households, groups and communities at a PiN assessment site. In order to do this, the contributions of current biodiversity use must be assessed, and the relative contribution of this use compared to that of other livelihood activities.

Different components of the use chain – from appropriation, transformation, exchange and consumption – are undertaken by individuals, and thus, gender sensitive analyses should build understanding of the situation of individuals (not only households) in order to improve understanding of intra-household distribution issues and differential vulnerabilities of different social groups.

The multidimensionality of poverty and well-being is recognised – each study will need to select dimensions appropriate to the local context (including subjective dimensions), that demonstrate the contribution of biodiversity and incorporate cultural values. There will also be ‘core’ dimensions that demonstrate the contribution of different uses, likely to be initially those in alignment with the use domains – food, health, energy, shelter, income and trade, etc..

The framework will also incorporate the analysis of the dynamics of poverty and well-being (and their impact on vulnerability) including both temporal and spatial dynamics, which will help to build understanding of interlinkages and feedbacks between and within elements of the social and ecological components of the system.

Contextual information including regarding governance, power relations and political economy will also be critical to helping to understand the questions of why people are poor, why they have or do not have access to resources, etc. (also identification of factors generating opportunities or acting as constraints).

      1. Development pathways and resilience

Development resilience is ‘the capacity over time of a person, household or other aggregate unit to avoid poverty in the face of various stressors and in the wake of myriad shocks. If and only if that capacity is and remains high over time, then the unit is resilient’ (Barrett & Constas, 2014:14626). This may mean that supporting change within a stability domain may not be sufficient to alleviate poverty and what is needed is the transformation of society.

Actors can use their agency, individually or collectively, and in responding to change in ways that prevent people from sliding into or remaining in poverty, they may (individually or collectively) resist change (e.g. to retain the current configuration of their social–ecological system), adopt new technologies or transform elements of the system through transition from one development pathway to another. Different strategies may be used over time, sequentially or in tandem, depending on the pressures and response opportunities available.

Resilience is partly dependent on the biodiversity of a specific landscape, and partly on the factors that shape the material and cultural uses of biodiversity and enable certain activities to be adopted or adapted in response to change.

1.4 Cultural narratives

Recognising that an approach focussing on biodiversity and species is based on a perspective that favours a western understanding of nature, the framework includes a module for collecting cultural narratives, which is designed to allow communities to express their many and varied perspectives on the interrelationships between people and nature.

Though cultural narratives could be incorporated within a qualitative methods set, it has been assigned a separate and specific module because its purpose is to represent human and nature relations from a specific cosmology or worldview whose outcomes may not always be integrated into the outcomes of other qualitative methods utilised.

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