Spread across diverse ecological and social geographies, SIOL works towards conservation of nature and natural resources through the collective action of local communities. The crux of SIOL efforts lies in locating forests and other natural resources within the prevailing economic, social and ecological dynamics in rural landscapes. Globally, SIOL hopes to see an increasing influence on two fundamental issues in governing shared natural resources a socio-ecological systems approach and a Commons paradigm, which together could have a far-reaching impact on worldviews on development.
In India, SIOL has played a pioneering role in furthering the concept of Commons as an effective instrument of local governance, as economic assets for the poor and for the viability of adjoining farmlands. It has also highlighted that by strengthening the institutional dimension, the collective action spins off from effectively managing natural resources to other spheres of village life such as education, health and access to economic opportunities.
The three fundamental dimensions or cornerstones of SIOL are:
- Ecological Restoration
Conserving nature, restoring and managing natural resources, such as land and local biodiversity, hydrological and nutrient cycles
- Commons and Community Institutions
Strengthening institutions and enhancing the capacity to self-govern, promoting inclusionary processes and collective decision-making;
- Rural Livelihoods
Securing livelihoods that are dependent on natural resources, and assisting communities to determine and adopt consumption levels within the ecological capacity of the area.