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Clarifying the degree and type of public good collective action problem posed by natural resource management challenges

Rebecca M Niemiec, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department, Colorado State University
Sarah McCaffrey, USDA Forest Service, 240 West Prospect Road, Fort Collins, CO 80526 USA
Megan S. Jones, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department, Colorado State University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11483-250130

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Abstract

Increasingly, scholars have sought to understand the role of collective action across property boundaries to address natural resource management challenges. Although the growing focus on collective action for natural resource management has led to many new and potentially useful insights for governance and outreach, we suggest that researchers and practitioners may benefit from taking a step back to think about the degree and type of collective action that is needed for each particular social-ecological context. We use the examples of invasive species management, fire management, and habitat conservation to argue that categorizing certain natural resource management challenges by the degree and type of public good collective action problem (i.e., continuous and step level) they create can provide insight into effective policy and management solutions for each problem. In so doing, we build on experimental psychology and economics research that suggests that outreach and governance solutions that work for one type of public good collective action problem may be less effective for addressing another type of problem that does not require collective action. We conclude by arguing for more studies examining: (1) how aspects of the social and ecological context determine the degree and type of public good collective action problem posed by natural resource management challenges, and (2) how the drivers of land manager decision making and the resulting effective governance solutions vary by the type and degree of public good collective action problem.

Key words

collective action; conservation; fire; habitat; invasive species; private lands; public good

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087