Interdependence of common-pool resources: lessons from a set of nested catchments in Australia

Ashutosh Sarker, Helen Ross, Krishna K. Shrestha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of common-pool resources (CPRs) has evolved from consideration of single-use to multiple-use resources, though the focus remains predominantly on single natural resources such as water. However, both ecological connections and human actions mean that one CPR can exist interdependently rather than in isolation from others. This article investigates this interdependence with a case study of a set of nested CPRs in the Lockyer, the Brisbane River, and Moreton Bay catchments in Southeast Queensland, Australia. An in-depth case study involving a review of relevant literature, conceptual analysis and 6 years of participant observation by one of the authors, shows that the catchment has several interdependent CPRs, linked through ecological processes and mediated by human actions that create positive or negative externalities for many resource users. We argue that the concept of "externality" can enhance our understanding of, and ability to recognize, the socioecological interdependence among CPRs and their users in a catchment, which is critical to clarify the extent of shared interests needed to underpin the design and use of appropriate collaborative management approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-834
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Catchment
  • Collaborative management
  • Common-pool resources
  • Externality
  • Interdependence
  • Socioecological systems

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