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Resolving the links between poverty and rule-breaking in a conservation context

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - ConHuB (Resolving the links between poverty and rule-breaking in a conservation context)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2021-06-01 do 2022-11-30

Issue being addressed
Poverty is frequently perceived to be the root cause of illegal natural resource use – the hunting or extraction of wildlife not sanctioned by the state. When unsustainable, such activities threaten the conservation of ecosystem services and endangered species. However, understanding what motivates the individuals involved constitutes a major challenge. Understandably, rule-breakers are generally unwilling to discuss their motives freely for fear of punishment or shame (Keane et al. 2008). Furthermore, severe, multifaceted poverty overlaps with regions prioritised for their globally important biodiversity (Fisher & Christopher 2007). This association exacerbates the problem that illegal activities pose for policy-makers responsible for managing and policing the use of nature. The dominant approach to conserving biodiversity is to establish protected areas (Ferraro et al. 2011) for example, the famous Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Such areas typically prohibit resource use and manage infractions through law enforcement (Mackenzie et al. 2012). However, the designation of protected areas and the establishment of rules restricting resource use do not guarantee compliance, as demonstrated by ongoing illegal resource use (Jepson et al. 2001).

Importance to society
Illegal and unregulated natural resource use has an increasingly conspicuous profile in the global policy arena. This includes the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which calls for urgent action to halt biodiversity loss and the poaching of protected species (United Nations Development Programme 2015). Yet the dynamics of poverty and illegal resource extraction are poorly understood. Solving this problematic cocktail of poverty, exclusion from resources and drivers of illegal resource use requires a new approach to understanding why people break rules and to what extent poverty underpins behaviour. By deploying theoretically robust research, CONHUB will be at the forefront of developing a more nuanced understanding of the prevalence and drivers of illegal resource use and the design of mechanisms enabling pro-poor responses to conservation non-compliance.

The overall aim of ConHuB is to provide the first robust evidence for the relationship between poverty and rule breaking. It will do so by specifically:
1. Investigating the historic and contemporary context of illegality and national parks, including links to past injustices associated with access to natural resources;
2. Testing the utility of geographic profiling as a tool for developing spatial sampling strategies for studies on sensitive topics;
3. Examining how measures of multidimensional poverty, socio-psychological characteristics and socio-cultural beliefs relate to rule-breaking behaviour;
4. Developing the systematic application and analysis of cutting-edge techniques designed to ask people directly about their involvement in illegal behaviours.
The following activities were conducted prior to launching fieldwork activities at CONHUB study sites in Tanzania and Indonesia:
1. Agreements signed with three partner organisations, one in the UK, one in Tanzania and one in Indonesia.
2. Project management and implementation protocols established with partners in Tanzania and Indonesia.
3. Team of nine, three located in the UK, three in Tanzania and three in Indonesia recruited.
4. Conducted scoping trips to Indonesia and Tanzania to co-ordinate with in-country partners on logistical, bureaucratic and scientific preparation for fieldwork.
5. Established collaboration with researcher in the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute to facilitate data sharing and collaborative research activities.
6. Research permits secured for study sites in both countries.
7. Literature review required to finalise conceptual framework of the main study completed.
8. Template data collection tools for the main study developed and protocols for digital data collection established.
9. Ethics approval secured from host institution.
10. Literature review of specialised questioning techniques and experimental design completed.

The following activities have been completed at CONHUB study sites in Tanzania and Indonesia
1. Training of field teams and translation and collaborative development of survey tools.
2. Focus group discussions exploring multidimensional poverty indicators, legitimacy of protected area institutions and activities conducted by people inside protected areas in study landscapes.
3. Experimental study of specialised questioning techniques designed, and data collected.
4. Research investigating local sensitivity of conservation rule breaking concluded.
5. Result of items 2-4 used to finalise ‘main’ study design and survey instrument.
6. Spatial data for study sites collated and sampling strategies designed.
7. Pilot study of ‘main’ questionnaire completed.

Additional activity
1. Systematic review of randomised response technique literature, with a focus on research conducted in conservation and natural resource management, has been completed ready for journal submission.
2. Geographic profiling completed for Tanzania study site. Results will be incorporated into outputs due later in the project.
3. CONHUB website launched at
4. Experimental study to investigate impact of question sensitivity versus comprehension of randomised response technique instructions designed for Tanzania study site.
Much conservation and natural resource management activity occurs in lower-middle-income countries. However, work developing methods and models of human behaviour typically occur in western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic (WEIRD) countries. During this reporting period, working in Tanzanian and Indonesia, the CONHUB team have implemented a study which deploys an experimental design to assess respondent comprehension of a suite of specialised questioning techniques. The results of this novel study have informed the choice of methods to be utilised in our study-site wide assessment of the links between multidimensional poverty and conservation compliance.
The CONHUB team in Tanzanian rush to refuel the field vehicle before a rainstorm arrives
CONHUB Team Leader, Stephen Sankeni counts beans used in an experimental test of five methods
CONHUB launch with partners at the Research Centre for Climate Change, Universitas Indonesia
Discussion under a tree. Often CONHUB focus group discussions in Tanzania were conducted outside
Leejiah developing survey tools with the CONHUB Indonesia Team, Jaya, Karlina & Ira
A CONHUB focus group discussion with ladies in rural Tanzania facilitated by Joseph Kaduma
You never know what the next fieldwork challenge will be, as shown by the CONHUB field vehicle