Environmental Uncertainty and Self-monitoring in the Commons: A Common-pool Resource Experiment Framed Around Bushmeat Hunting in the Republic of Congo

Publication Year:

Bushmeat is often a common pool resource issue and is a major threat to wildlife in west and central Africa. Participatory monitoring systems have been proposed to both better monitor natural resources and to engage resource users in Community Based Natural Resource Management systems, in a variety of social-ecological systems. However, studies of self-monitoring schemes in bushmeat hunting systems are scarce, and there are no empirical studies of the impact of self-monitoring on bushmeat hunting. We used a lab-in-the-field common pool resource experiment framed around a bushmeat hunting system, in which participants made individual decisions on time allocation between hunting and farming under three different conditions: without communication between group members, with communication, and with communication and a self-monitoring system. We found that self-monitoring was associated with a lower level of hunting and lower rate of resource decline. However, contrary to expectations, communication alone was not enough to lower hunting levels. We draw on behavioural economic and psychological research on environmental and social uncertainty and self-perception to explore how the act of self-monitoring could have changed behaviour by changing how participants perceived the resource, each other, and themselves. Our results support the notion that hunter self-monitoring could be a useful tool to initiate behaviour change, as well as providing estimates of resource trends. Keywords: Common-pool resource, Self-monitoring, Wildlife conservation, Bushmeat, CBNRM, Experimental economics, Dictator game, Demand effects.

Publication Title:

Ecological Economics

Item Type:
Journal Article

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