The role of institutions in community wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe

Peer Reviewed
1 January 2018

Institutions play a significant role in stabilising large-scale cooperation
in common pool resource management. Without restrictions to govern human
behaviour, most natural resources are vulnerable to overexploitation. This study
used a sample size of 336 households and community-level data from 30 communities
around Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, to analyse the relationship
between institutions and biodiversity outcomes in community-based wildlife
conservation. Our results suggest a much stronger effect of institutions on biodiversity
outcomes via the intermediacy of cooperation. Overall, the performance of
most communities was below the desired level of institutional attributes that matter
for conservation. Good institutions are an important ingredient for cooperation
in the respective communities. Disaggregating the metric measure of institutions
into its components shows that governance, monitoring and enforcement are more
important for increased cooperation, while fairness of institutions seems to work
against cooperation. Cooperation increases with trust and group size, and is also
higher in communities that have endogenised punishment as opposed to communities
that still rely on external enforcement of rules and regulations. Cooperation
declines as we move from communal areas into the resettlement schemes and with
increasing size of the resource system. A very strong positive relationship exists
between cooperation and biodiversity outcomes implying that communities with
elevated levels of cooperation are associated with a healthy wildlife population.
Biodiversity outcomes are more successful in communities that either received
wildlife management training, share information or those that are located far away
from urban areas and are not very close to the boundary of the game park. Erecting
an electric fence, the household head’s age, the number of years in school and
number of years living in the area negatively affect biodiversity outcomes. One
policy implication of this study is to increase autonomy in CAMPFIRE communities
so that they are able to invest in good institutions, which allows them to
self-organise and to manage wildlife sustainably.

Sustainable Development Goals

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Publication | 26 April 2018