Making friends with benefits: an investigation into the use of incentives for the conservation of forest commons

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Title: Making friends with benefits: an investigation into the use of incentives for the conservation of forest commons
Authors: Travers, Henry
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: The use of incentives to encourage sustainable natural resource use is widespread in conservation. Yet, the relative or combined effects of conservation interventions on resource use can be difficult to predict. This is particularly so in contexts with weak institutions or poorly defined property rights, conditions that typify forest commons. In this study, I investigate the effect of different policy options, currently being implemented or under consideration in a protected area in Cambodia, on the resource appropriation of indigenous smallholder farmers in order to develop a framework for predicting the effectiveness of conservation interventions. I begin by evaluating the progress made towards two project targets relating to the security of natural resources important for local livelihoods, showing that, whilst security issues exist, the project has so far been successful in protecting key resources. I also evaluate an existing programme of indigenous land titling, which is shown to be consistent with conservation goals but vulnerable to interference from land grabs. Using two approaches for predicting behavioural response to planned interventions, experimental games and scenario analysis, I demonstrate that collective performance payments are more effective than individually contracted payments or increased law enforcement effort. Previous research has shown that externally imposed rule enforcement can undermine existing norms for cooperation, particularly in contexts where social cohesion is high. I build upon this research by demonstrating that exogenous rule enforcement, when coupled with reward payments that have been found to encourage high levels of cooperation, can increase resource extraction compared to when payments are offered in isolation. The research presented highlights the difficulty of predicting the effect of policies designed to reduce resource use, particularly when interventions interact to increase the institutional complexity in which resource use decision-making takes place, but offers a novel framework for the investigation of intervention effectiveness.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: May-2014
Date Awarded: Sep-2015
Supervisor: Milner-Gulland, E.J.
Sponsor/Funder: Natural Environment Research Council
Economic and Social Research Council
Department: Department of Life Sciences (Silwood Park)
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Life Sciences PhD theses

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