Beyond Awareness and Self-Governance: Approaching Kavango Timber Users' Real-Life Choices

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"Targeted illegal harvesting of hardwood in the woodland of Namibia’s Kavango region threatens forest stands. In a transforming setting, where wood is increasingly traded through value chains on a globalized market, local harvesters have complex incentives but also a crucially important position. Sustainability largely depends on their choices. Such choices are being influenced by awareness campaigns and decentralized forest management, which are being lauded and supported. Having produced an ethnographic awareness film (AF) on the problem of logging and the opportunities for community forests (CF) to reduce extractions while raising community income, we approach the influence of the instruments of film and community forests on forest-users’ real life choices with an economic public goods game. We compare villages that have experienced influences to a differing degree. We find more extraction in AF and no effect for CF at village level. Instead, the extractive impact of certain experimental and free riding personality types, whose strategies remain stable across the experiment, is equally distributed among villages. We discuss methodological implications and the fact that in a situation of ecological and socio-economic challenges certain players use game and real life opportunities to decouple individual choice from problem awareness and the social control-setting."
deforestation, community forestry, livelihoods, logging, public goods and bads