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Title: Exploring real and hypothetical impacts of community-based conservation interventions
Author: Lewis, Amy R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 5927
Awarding Body: Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2019
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Community-based conservation projects have been promoted as a way of achieving both conservation and development goals. There is a growing literature surrounding the challenges of implementing such projects and achieving the outcomes sought, however questions remain including: To what extent do donors value community aspects of conservation projects? Does community conservation effectively build the capacity of participating communities? To what extent might interventions such as Payments for Ecosystem Services and promoting communication improve the ecological outcomes of such projects? In this thesis I attempt to answer these questions focusing on the case of community conservation conducted by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Madagascar. I use a combination of methods which rely on hypothetical scenarios (choice experiments and experimental games), and an evaluation of self-reported impacts measured using a Before-After-Control-Impact design. Firstly, I conducted a discrete choice experiment with visitors to Durrell's Jersey Zoo to explore the impact of highlighting community involvement in a conservation project (rather than species or habitat aspects) on likely donations. Respondents showed the highest willingness to pay for projects that have local community involvement in management. By simultaneously conducting a revealed preference study through an experimental campaign asking for real donations, I attempted to validate the choice experiment findings. With the level of donation we requested, most respondents made a donation so I was not able to demonstrate an effect of campaign type on real donations. Secondly, I conducted a household survey in Northern-central Madagascar across nine communities around a lake where a community conservation project was planned, and eight around an otherwise similar lake with no planned conservation project. I used this to develop indicators of community capacity and found that the levels and changes in indicators differed, showing a requirement for capacity to be considered in multidimensional space. In the following Chapter I used these measures of community capacity to evaluate the impact of capacity building activities carried out over the first two years of a community-based conservation project aimed at preparing the first lake for the reintroduction of the world's rarest duck. For this evaluation I used a before-after-control-impact approach allowing a robust estimation of impact. I found no evidence of impact in composite scores of capitals, though I found evidence of the impact of the intervention on some indicators of social capital. My analysis also revealed some evidence of elite capture of training and resources. Finally, I used an experimental game played with community members in both conservation and non-conservation sites to explore the hypothetical impact of potential interventions to improve ecosystem service provision by reducing pesticide use amongst farmers. I found that incentives in the form of subsidies increased co-operative behaviour and decreased the rate of non-cooperative behaviour. Enhancing communication did not increase the provision of ecosystem services across the game landscape, however it did increase cooperative behaviours between players. I argue that experimental games such as this have value beyond research and could be used as a tool for communities and conservation projects to explore the potential pros and cons of various interventions collaboratively. Together these chapters provide helpful evidence to improve the marketing, evaluation and future design of community-based conservation projects, in Madagascar and elsewhere, which will ultimately contribute to maximising benefits for both people and wildlife.
Supervisor: Jones, Julia ; Gibbons, James Sponsor: Leverhulme Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: CBC ; DCE ; WTP ; Community-based Conservation ; Discrete choice experiment ; Willingness-to-pay ; Games ; Watershed ; Wetland ; Madagascar ; Conservation ; BACI ; Impact evaluation ; Pesticides ; Community capacity ; PES ; Payments for Ecosystem Services ; Communication