Participatory governance and public participation through community engagement are increasingly recognized as key elements for the success of nature conservation and biodiversity enhancement. Communal Governance Systems (CGSs) play a crucial role in biodiversity conservation, with results from some studies showing that areas governed communally are ‘diversity hotspots’ because of the ancestral sustainable interaction between human activity and nature necessary for long term survival of local communities. In addition, they are a unique repository of governance approaches and institutions, traditional resource management practices and local cultural heritage. CGSs have contributed prominently to the great cultural and natural diversity that we find in the Mediterranean, particularly in agdals, himas and dehesas/montados and other cultural landscapes and High Nature Value Systems in the region. Some CGSs have disappeared while others have survived, and they are being revived in the face of environmental and social crises and as people collectively search for new participatory systems.
This collective effort involving partners from Morocco, Spain, Greece and Lebanon explores how CGSs in these four countries impact biodiversity conservation and sustainable cultural landscapes while consolidating knowledge and tools for encouraging public participation and community engagement.