This chapter reflects on the lessons learned from an iterative participatory modelling process applied to socio-environmental management in a semi-arid protected area in northern Nicaragua. The aim of the study was to understand vulnerability and support local stakeholders in adapting to socio-economic, environmental and policy pressures. The chapter reports on the genesis and the approach developed. The authors collaboratively co-created with stakeholders a set of conceptual models that identify key issues and make explicit local perceptions on the functioning of a complex social-ecological landscape. They coupled computer models to explore the implications of farmers’ choices of land use and management expressed in a range of ecological and socio-economic indicators. Through ‘playing with modelling’ workshops they communicated back simulations’ results to discuss the current and potential future states of the local silvopastoral system. The authors reflect on the relevance of social learning processes and substantive outcomes in contexts with incomplete knowledge, and discuss the challenge of linking different knowledge systems together in order to assist decision-making, promote local interactions, and strengthen local agency and ownership of learning processes.
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