Resource intruders and robustness of social-ecological systems: An irrigation system of Southeast Spain, a case study

I. Pérez, Marcus Janssen, A. Tenza, A. Giménez, A. Pedreño, M. Giménez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Globalization increases the vulnerability of traditional socialecological systems (SES) to the incursion of new resource appropriators, i.e. intruders. New external disturbances that increase the physical and sociopolitical accessibility of SES (e.g. construction of a new road) and weak points in institutional SES of valuable common-pool resources are some of the main factors that enhance the encroachment of intruders. The irrigation system of the northwest Murcia Region (Spain) is an example used in this article of the changes in the structure and robustness of a traditional SES as a result of intruders. In this case study, farmers have traditionally used water from springs to irrigate their lands but, in recent decades, large agrarian companies have settled in this region, using groundwater to irrigate new lands. This intrusion had caused the levels of this resource to drop sharply. In an attempt to adapt, local communities are intensifying the use of resources and are constructing new physical infrastructures; consequently, new vulnerabilities are emerging. This situation seems to be heading toward the inevitably collapse of this traditional SES. From an institutional viewpoint, some recommendations are offered to enhance the robustness of SES in order to mitigate the consequences of intruders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-432
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of the Commons
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Adaptability
  • Common-pool resources
  • Globalization
  • Groundwater
  • Institutions
  • Resilience
  • Water management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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