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What (De)Motivates Forest Users’ Participation in Co-Management? Evidence from Nepal

1
Institute for Tropical Forestry & Forest Products, Technische Universität Dresden, 01737 Dresden, Germany
2
Institute of Forestry, Tribhuvan University, Pokhara P.O. Box 43, Nepal
3
Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, DK 1870 Copenhagen, Denmark
4
Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forests and Environment, Biratnagar 56600, Nepal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(6), 512; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10060512
Received: 15 May 2019 / Revised: 11 June 2019 / Accepted: 14 June 2019 / Published: 16 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Abstract

The co-management concept has been echoed in scientific literature for over two decades. Emphasis has been tailored towards an understanding of structural and functional issues linked to its application and the outcomes thereof. However, a crucial aspect which still begs for scientific and policy edification, concerns the motivational drivers of actors’ participation in co-management arrangements. Studies contend that actors are motivated to participate in co-management based on their perceived benefits (e.g., income). Conclusions from these lines of argument further raise a theoretical quagmire, requiring further grounding, with regards to context-specific (de)motivators of users’ participation in co-management. The case of Nepal is pertinent. Although Nepal has a rich community-based forest management history, scientific investigations have virtually ignored the motivational drivers of participation in the co-management of natural resources (forests). Against this background, this paper seeks to explore the following: (i) the decision-making and monitoring structure of rules regulating the co-management of forests, (ii) the implications of this system on users’ motivation to participate, and (iii) the motivational drivers of users’ participation in co-management. To achieve this, five focus group discussions and 10 key informant interviews were conducted in five villages (Kunjo, Titi, Parshyang, Cchayo, and Taglung) within the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA). We further employed narratives, framework, and thematic analyses to discuss the decision-making structure and motivational aspects of co-management. The results point to the following conclusions: (1) Despite the rather top-down decision-making setting, users remain motivated to participate in co-management. (2) Interestingly, the motivation by actors to participate is not largely driven by users’ perceived benefits. The results present another twist, a deviation from the previously understood rationale, which should be factored into co-management theory development. However, the paper equally makes a succinct request for further studies, including quantitative investigations, to ground this assertion. View Full-Text
Keywords: participation; co-management; forest users; benefits; ACA; Nepal participation; co-management; forest users; benefits; ACA; Nepal
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Kimengsi, J.N.; Bhusal, P.; Aryal, A.; Fernandez, M.V.B.C.; Owusu, R.; Chaudhary, A.; Nielsen, W. What (De)Motivates Forest Users’ Participation in Co-Management? Evidence from Nepal. Forests 2019, 10, 512.

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