Policy, Governance and Local Institutions for Biodiversity Conservation in Costa Rica
Area de Conservacion Guanacaste
Committee ChairSchlager, Edella
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe goal of this dissertation is to advance the theory of common-pool resources in three different but interrelated ways: (1) Common-pool resources theory has identified a number of factors that play an important role on human groups' ability to engage in successful institutional change. However it is still not clear which are their causal relationships on specific contexts. This study looks at the relationship between two of the aforementioned factors: local leadership and local autonomy. It does so in the context of the decentralization of the governance of protected areas for biodiversity conservation in Costa Rica. (2) Historically, common-pool resources theory has paid limited attention to the interactions between local institutions and higher levels of governance. This study incorporates the analysis of cross-scale institutional linkages into the assessment of decentralization reforms in Costa Rica. (3) To do so it incorporates an analytical approach that allows for systematic and rigorous comparisons of small-to-moderate-sized Ns and is apt at handling multiple-causality outcomes. Looking at these issues in the context of the decentralization of biodiversity governance in Costa Rica is relevant because it is the most biodiverse country per unit of area in the world, and during the last twenty years has experimented with decentralization policies to create locally-based institutions for biodiversity conservation. Among my most relevant findings are: (1) that the presence of local leadership is positively related to institutions ability to gain local autonomy from the central government. (2) However, in the context of a class-based society with a strong urban-rural divide, the emergence of local leadership for conservation in rural settings is likely not able to take place by itself without support from within the bureaucratic structure. (3) More diverse are better than less diverse sets of cross-scale linkages in local institutions' ability to gain and maintain local autonomy overtime. (4) Local autonomy can help local institutions increase their potential for biodiversity conservation as long as there are well-defined institutional arrangements in place. Otherwise, local institutions might find themselves pursuing other agendas that might have an unclear relation with biodiversity conservation.