Community-based management and participatory monitoring of natural resources have been advocated as better strategies because they are cheaper than externally-driven alternatives and promote pro-environmental behaviors. However, the successful implementation and sustainability of such initiatives depends on resource users' willingness to engage. Some studies claim that resource users will only participate and invest their time in management when the financial benefits received exceed the costs. However, evidence suggests that people cooperate and may volunteer even when not directly rewarded. We evaluated whether economic benefits earned from resource exploitation or cooperative behavior better explained the likelihood of people's voluntary participation in monitoring. We studied an Amazonian forest community in Brazil, who harvested and traded a commercially-important non-timber forest product (NTFP), and gathered data using the following procedures: a survey applied to 166 adults in order to estimate people's NTFP dependence, cooperative behavior and intention to engage in monitoring tasks; and the implementation of pilot-monitoring tasks to observe who participated. Based on mixed-effects regressions, the results indicated that both factors can predict intended and actual participation, although cooperative behavior was a stronger and more consistent predictor. Thus, fostering community cooperation may outcompete financial benefits in ensuring engagement in natural resource management.
Ecological Economics – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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