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Building local institutions for national conservation programs: lessons for developing Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programs

Wain Collen, International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Lund University; PlanJunto
Torsten Krause, Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies
Luis Mundaca, International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Lund University
Kimberly A. Nicholas, Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08156-210204

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Abstract

For programs that aim to promote forest conservation and poverty alleviation, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), the participation of indigenous communities is essential to meet program goals. Using Ostrom's theory of collective action for common pool resource management, we evaluated the institutions governing indigenous participation in the Programa Socio Bosque incentive-based conservation program in Ecuador. We conducted structured interviews with 94 members in 4 communities to assess community institutions for 6 of Ostrom's principles, using 12 measures we developed for the principles. We found substantial variation between communities in terms of their institutional performance. The best-performing community performed well (>50% of interviewees reported successfully meeting the measure) on 8 of the 12 measures. The weakest performed well on only 2 out of 12 measures. Overall, our results indicate that there is stronger performance for constitutional-level institutions, which determine who gets to make the rules, and some collective-choice institutions, which determine how local rules are made. We identified specific challenges with the day-to-day operational institutions that arise from participation in nation state–community conservation programs, such as restricted resource appropriation, monitoring and compliance, and conflict resolution. We found that top-down policy making has an important role to play in supporting communities to establish constitutional-level and some collective-choice institutions. However, developing operational institutions may take more time and depend on local families’ day-to-day use of resources, and thus may require a more nuanced policy approach. As some countries and donors find a jurisdictional REDD+ approach increasingly attractive, complementing top-down policy measures with bottom-up institutional development could provide a stronger platform to achieve the shift from current land use driving deforestation to a lower-carbon-emissions land management trajectory.

Key words

Amazon; common pool resource (CPR); forest governance; forest policy; Socio Bosque

Copyright © 2016 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