3 years ago

Impact of Local Empowerment on Conservation Practices in a Highly Developed Country

Vera Helene Hausner, Sigrid Engen
Community-based conservation, where local decision makers are responsible for balancing conservation and development, is often preferred to exclusionary conservation that prioritizes use-limitation through strict regulation. Unraveling the evidence for conservation impact of different governance regimes is challenging. Focusing on conservation practices before and after a reform can provide an early indication of behavioral changes acting as a precursor to changes in social and ecological outcomes, which generally need more time to materialize. A recent reform in Norway provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the impact of local empowerment on conservation practices in protected areas. We analyzed 1,466 decisions in 31 protected areas before and after the reform while accounting for differences between private and public property ownership. We found that the conservation practices were liberal both before and after the reform. The impact of local empowerment on conservation practices was contingent on land tenure: more use was allowed after the reform on private land. We conclude that conservation impact evaluations could benefit from a before-and-after spatial approach taking into account land tenure for analyzing the impacts of local decision making.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/conl.12369

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