The importance of rule enforcement to local level forest management
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Current studies of community level resource management focus on the factors that impede or help individuals to overcome their collective action problems. Dozens of factors have been identified in this literature. While important, such work is limited by the lack of theory that connects these factors with outcomes, and the near total lack of hypothesis testing beyond the case level. We argue that despite the possible differences between individuals or the characteristics of the resource they use, the regular monitoring and sanctioning of rules is a necessary condition for successful resource management. We offer a preliminary test of this hypothesis by pairing rule monitoring and sanctioning against other factors considered important in the literature, and by using a sample size of 172 user groups from the International Forestry Resources and Institutions Research Program (IFRI). We find strong support for our hypothesis that rule enforcement -- i.e. regular monitoring and sanctioning -- tends to dominate the other factors with regard to the probability that a forest is in good condition.
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