Using Data on Social Influence and Collective Action for Parameterizing a Geographically-Explicit Agent-Based Model for the Diffusion of Soil Conservation Efforts

Peer Reviewed
1 January 2018

Social influence affects individual decision-making on soil conservation. Understanding the emergent diffusion of collective conservation effort is relevant to natural resource management at the river basin level. This study focuses on the effect of subjective norms and collective action on the diffusion of Soil Conservation Effort (SCE) in the Lake Naivasha basin (Kenya) for the period 1965–2010. A geographically-explicit Agent-Based Model (ABM) version of the CONSUMAT model was developed: the CONSERVAT model. In our model, we have represented heterogeneity in the physical environment and in the social network using empirical data. To parameterize the model, physical data, and social data from a household survey (n = 307) were used. Model simulation results show that it is possible to reproduce empirical spatiotemporal diffusion patterns of SCE levels which are quite sensitive to the way in which social survey data are used to initialize the model. Overall, this study demonstrates (i) that social survey data can effectively be used for parameterization of a geographically-explicit ABM, and (ii) that empirical knowledge on natural environment characteristics and social phenomena can be used to build an agent-based model at the river basin level. This study is an important first step towards including subjective norms for evaluating the effectiveness of alternative policy strategies for natural resource management.

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Publication | 10 January 2019