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Open Access Thesis

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Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

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Month Degree Awarded



Due to the alarming rate of global wetland depletion, the Ramsar Convention, an international wetland conservation and management treaty, was signed in 1971. As of today, 172 countries are signatories. The intricate connection of local communities, their indigenous knowledge and hence their participation in the wetland governance has been recently recognized by Ramsar to protect the community's right over wetlands and to establish the joint stewardship of government and communities on these vital resources. Ramsar Convention provides a broader framework for participatory wetland governance; however, there needs to be more clarity on how various countries understand, perceive, and adopt community participation in their national policies. The case of India, where communities depend on wetland bodies for lives and livelihoods, makes an appropriate case for similar countries in South Asia. Qualitative research methodologies are applied at various stages of the research. The participatory wetland governance proposed under the Ramsar Convention and India's national and state policies is analyzed based on the framework developed under this research. The pair of state and wetland sites are selected for detailed case analysis to understand the diversities and commonalities of the policy framework. The comparative examination between Ramsar and India and across the four sites helps to understand the policy diversions.

The policy diversions from Ramsar's framework are observed in national and state policies. However, the case studies provide new insights embedded in the contextual setting to draw policy recommendations to create better opportunities for community participation in India and Ramsar Convention. The meaning of community participation in theories is prone to various interpretations in practice. This research provides a way to decipher the meaning of participation, bridge the gap between theories and practice, and propose practical and achievable community participation in wetland governance.


First Advisor

Anita Milman

Second Advisor

Scott Jackson

Third Advisor

Juniper Katz

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Available for download on Friday, March 01, 2024