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Co-management: Learning from the experience of the Wildlife Management Advisory Council for the Northwest Territories

Roberts, Karen Lorraine





Co-management is a joint management process that brings local resource users and government representatives together to share the management responsibility for local or regional resources. The purpose of this study is to further knowledge and understanding of the co-management process. An evaluation of the Wildlife Management Advisory Council for the Northwest Territories (WMAC-NWT) one of five Western Arctic co-management committees established under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, provides the focus for the study. Standards, identified from an extensive literature review of co-management theory and practice, provide a guide for evaluating the WMAC-NWT, including the institutional structure, membership, and operations of the committee. The evaluation indicates that the WMAC-NWT is a successful co-management regime and that co-management can work. Key strengths of the WMAC-NWT include: formal and legal structure; strong definition of authority and mandate; power being conferred to the community level; ecologically sound management that respects local cultures; continuity of membership; member's expertise and performance; consensus decision-making; links to the Inuvialuit Game Council and secretariat; and interagency coordination. Primary concerns regarding the WMAC-NWT's operations include: complexity of the regime; lack of knowledge of the land claim and the regime among the parties to the regime; community involvement and communication; and the integration of Indigenous knowledge. The WMAC-NWT's experience also offered general lessons for co-management practice and specific lessons for co-management regimes established pursuant to land claim settlements.

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