Changing Reef Values: An Inquiry into the Use, Management and Governances of Reef Resources in Island Communities of the Maldives
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The thesis is an exploration into the ways in which island communities living in coral reef environments value the surrounding reef resources. This research is conducted in seven communities in the Maldives. A qualitative approach is used as this inquiry involves gaining insight of human perceptions and behaviours. Discussions and interaction with participants in community activities and participant observation were the main inquiry methods used. Specifically, the research focuses on sand from the beach, coral from the house reef and fish in the island lagoon. The exploration of reef values show that multiple reef values exist and they are constantly changing. How communities interact with the resources and how the communities itself had changed over time contribute to this change in resource value. Physical and social factors, such as resource type, availability and location, physical characteristics of islands, community size, and socio-economic conditions, contribute to the changing reef values. Based on these changing values, it is recommended to go beyond one formal governance rules that fits all. Instead local adaptations based on local ways of valuing need to be considered. A most notable change impacting reef values is the migration of families to the capital. This reduces their interactions both with the reef environment and other community members. In addition, the current globalised education is causing the development of a predominantly globalised worldview among the present generations. In this new worldview, the sacred is separated from the secular. Thus, spiritual and moral beliefs have become isolated from resource management practices. I also find it of concern that local worldviews are being negated at the expense of concern for the global environment. I highlight the importance of schooling to instil knowledge about our local environments and local worldviews. It is also through education we can re-integrate the sacred into our practices and such changes need to be starting at an individual level.