Conservation, *development and collaboration: Analyzing institutional incentives for participatory conservation in Uganda
Throughout the world, scholars and practitioners are increasingly promoting participatory conservation strategies as improvements over traditional protected area models that focus on enforcement. Despite this widespread support, most examples in practice have experienced little sustained success at either eliciting participation or improving ecological outcomes. This dissertation addresses this policy dilemma by examining how different community conservation incentives encourage the participation of local people in the conservation of Ugandan national parks. This thesis draws on arguments from the new institutionalism literature to portray the content and outcomes of participatory conservation policies as resulting from the daily decisions and interactions of individuals. Employing insights from theories of credible commitment and self-governance, I argue that analysis of participatory conservation strategies must take into account both how the process of institutional design creates incentives for individuals to collaborate as well as how the resulting institutional arrangements protect against strategic behavior and tie the cooperation to behavior that promotes conservation. To analyze how both the process and the policy create incentives for encouraging local participation in conservation in Uganda, this study examines three empirical puzzles. First, why did the Ugandan national park authority select policies advocating collaboration in conservation of national parks? The second puzzle explains the variation in local rights and responsibilities existing in the two collaborative agreements. The final question examines collaborative agreements at Mt. Elgon and Bwindi National Parks to assess the extent to which collaboration improves participatory conservation outcomes. My analysis employs archival, key informant interview and rural household survey data obtained through ten months of field research in Uganda. Results indicate that in situations of mutual mistrust, individual decisions whether or not to cooperate are contingent upon the degree of credible commitment demonstrated by the park authority, the extent the rules reflect local values and the costs of non-compliance. Therefore, collaborative institutions need to provide not only incentives to participate, but demonstrate assurance mechanisms. These results indicate the importance in identifying both how the process of collaboration and the attributes of the rules themselves influence the day to day decisions to cooperate of local people.
0768: Environmental science