Opening /docrep/w7483e/w7483e05.htm
Chapter 3: The characteristics of the resource and resource management incentives

Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


Chapter 3: The characteristics of the resource and resource management incentives


Forest resources and their outputs: Goods and services
Resource characteristics
Categorizing outputs: Private, toll, common pool, and public goods and services
Implications for resource management
Case Study: Analysis of resource characteristics in Garin Dan Djibo


Chapter 2 discussed the importance of incentives as a key factor in people's behaviour toward the environment. It was noted that incentives come from many different sources. One kind of incentive is related to the resource itself. Certain characteristics of resources create incentives for people to act in one way or another. When a resource is very scarce and very valuable, for example, the incentives to steal that resource will be considerably stronger than if the resource is plentiful or not particularly useful. In both the Timifa mango case and the case study of Maman, the difficulties in controlling access to a resource that was somewhat remote gave people an incentive to poach, an action that they might not have taken if the resource had been controlled more closely by the owner.

This chapter discusses some of the characteristics of resources that are most important in determining incentives. The first step is to identify the resources and the product(s) that are involved in the problem. The next step is to analyse the incentives that are associated with that resource. Some characteristics of resources are particularly important in determining incentives for how people treat those resources. The following section distinguishes first between the resource itself and the outputs of the resource and then analyses two sets of characteristics that are particularly important: the feasibility of exclusion and the nature of consumption.

Forest resources and their outputs: Goods and services

First it is important to distinguish between the resource itself and the outputs of the resource. Trees and bushes, whether in a forest, on fields, in hedgerows or in gardens, are resources. These resources may be thought of as 'production plants' or factories that can generate various goods and services. The goods produced by a tree or forest resource can include such diverse items as fuelwood, construction materials, food for humans and animals, and raw materials for rope or medicines. Tree and forest resources can also produce services such as providing shade, protecting against soil and water erosion, producing green manure and nutrient pumping, storing water and providing habitats for wildlife and fish.

It is often not useful to speak generally of the characteristics of the resource. This is because each of its outputs will have different characteristics in terms of the analytic categories suggested below. It makes better sense to identify the output in question (fruit, fuelwood, shade) and then to consider its characteristics and the incentives that they create for managing the output in one way or another.

Resource characteristics

Two characteristics of outputs are important in creating incentives for how a resource is managed. The first characteristic is the feasibility of exclusion and the second characteristic is the nature of consumption.

Feasibility of exclusion is a term used to indicate whether it is easy or difficult to control access to a good or service. For any good or service it will be easier (higher feasibility of exclusion) or harder (lower feasibility of exclusion) for someone to keep other users from gaining access to the output. It may be relatively easy for individual farmers to keep strangers away from a single valuable mango tree in their compound. They and the members of their family can watch it and, if necessary, build a thorn fence around it. Maman found it considerably harder to control access to his gawo trees. The trees were not in sight of his compound and it would have been prohibitively expensive to fence the entire field. The problem of controlling access is often very difficult in the case of community forests or woodlots that are on the periphery of village lands and are sometimes shared by several villages. In cases such as these one would say that the feasibility of exclusion is low.

Determining the Feasibility of Exclusion

In determining the feasibility of exclusion it is useful to consider certain factors:

· Can the resource be seen and easily monitored (at low cost, with little or no extra effort) by the owner (s)?

· How far away is the resource?

· Can unauthorized users easily gain access to the output or do they need special tools or knowledge?

· Can the resource be fenced at a cost people can afford?

The feasibility of exclusion will vary according to the output and may change seasonally. It may be easier to control access to honey, which requires specialized skills to harvest, than to fruits, which can be collected from the ground by any passerby. It may be easier to control wood cutting in a community forest during the hunting season when many people are in the forest and can watch out for illegal cutting than during the rainy season when people are occupied in their fields.

The feasibility of exclusion has an important impact on people's incentives to care for a resource. In general, the more feasible it is to control access, the more the rights-holders feel that they have tenure security. That is, people believe that they will be able to gain the benefits of their property. When people feel that their tenure rights are secure, they are generally more willing to invest in improvements in the resource. In many cases, then, a higher feasibility of exclusion is associated with stronger incentives to nurture, protect and invest in a particular resource. In Maman's case, during the time that he felt that he was secure in his tenure and believed that he would gain the benefits of the gawo trees he had planted, he was willing to invest a lot of time and energy in the trees. Once he realized that he could not keep other people out of his field and therefore risked losing the benefits of the trees, he gave up, deciding that it was no longer worth the effort.

A second important characteristic of the resource is called the nature of consumption. The nature of consumption refers to whether the consumption of the good is subtractive or joint.

Consumption is subtractive when one person consumes a good for a particular purpose, with the result that another person cannot use the same good. Person A has subtracted all or part of the good from the total available and this prevents Person B from using that same good. The consumption of many forest goods is subtractive. The poles produced by Maman's gawo trees are an example. The individual who cut down Maman's trees was able to benefit from their use; Maman was not. The consumption of leaves and fruit is also subtractive. If one animal consumes the leaves of a certain bush, no other animal or person will be able to eat them.

Determining the Nature of Consumption

In determining the nature of consumption of an output it is useful to ask certain questions.

· Does the resource or resource system yield products that are harvested and then consumed by people or animals for food, housing, fencing, etc.?

· If one person benefits from the output, can anyone else enjoy the benefits of the same output?

· When one person benefits from these outputs, does it reduce the amount of benefit for anyone else?

· Does the resource produce services, such as protecting against wind or water erosion, providing water storage or improving air quality, that are consumed jointly by many people?

· Does the resource produce (as is often the case) a combination of harvested, subtractive goods and jointly consumed services?

In other cases, however, consumption of forest goods and services can be joint. This means that two or more people can benefit from the good or service at the same time without reducing the amount available for others. Consumption of such goods and services is non-subtractive. In Nepal, travelers' trees are planted and maintained along the main walking trails between villages. Many people can sit and enjoy the shade and shelter provided by these trees without in any way reducing their benefits for other people. In the case of Garin Dan Djibo, there were some joint benefits of Maman's and other farmers' gawo trees. The trees were a service to the community in so far as they helped to reduce wind erosion, improve air quality, moderate temperature extremes and promote water infiltration and retention. Anyone in the immediate village area could benefit jointly from the improved microenvironment without reducing the benefits available for others. Joint benefits, which have effects that are often dispersed throughout a community, are often less tangible and harder to measure than subtractive ones.

The nature of consumption will vary according to the output. Often goods are subject to subtractive consumption, while services may be consumed jointly. This was the case of Maman's gawo trees. One output (poles) was subject to subtractive consumption while others (reduced wind and water erosion) could be consumed jointly.

The nature of consumption, like the feasibility of exclusion, creates incentives and disincentives that influence the way people act toward resources. In general individuals are likely to feel a stronger incentive to protect resources from which they gain subtractive benefits. When the benefits are joint, and often less tangible, people may feel less of a personal stake in the resource, thinking that "someone else will take care of the problem." Since a larger community often benefits from a resource that has joint benefits, protection of that resource may require organization at the community level. This would be the case, for example, for a windbreak erected along one side of the village. It is often harder to organize the maintenance of such a windbreak than to persuade people to water privately owned trees from which they will enjoy subtractive benefits.

Categorizing outputs: Private, toll, common pool, and public goods and services


Private goods and services
Toll goods and services
Common pool goods and services
Public goods and services


The analysis becomes more interesting and the incentives and disincentives to environmental protection more clear when the two resource characteristics described above are combined. In Table 1 on page 29, the feasibility of exclusion is on the vertical axis while the nature of consumption is on the horizontal axis. Goods and services belong in one of the four boxes depending on whether feasibility of exclusion is easy or difficult and whether consumption is subtractive or joint. The result is four classes of goods and services that may be used to categorize the outputs of tree and forest resources:

· private goods and services;
· toll goods and services;
· common pool goods and services; and
· public goods and services.

The following sections treat these categories of goods and services in turn and consider how the characteristics of each type of good or service affect people's incentives to protect and invest in the resource.

Table 1: Categorization of goods and services from trees and forests2


 

NATURE OF CONSUMPTION

SUBTRACTIVE

JOINT

Private Goods and Services

Toll Goods and Services

FEASIBILITY of EXCLUSION

EASY

cut and stored fuelwood and building poles, forest product medicines, trees in fenced gardens, etc.

nature parks where entrance fee is charged for hiking, camping, tourism and wildlife viewing, etc.

Common Pool Goods and Services

Public Goods and Services

DIFFICULT

browse on trees/bushes and fruits fallen from trees in unfenced fields and woods, wildlife, fish in streams and lakes etc.

air quality, environmental duality, shade, protection of biological diversity, protection that trees provide against wind,: water erosion, etc.

2 Adapted from Ostrom, V. & Ostrom, E., 1977.

Private goods and services

When the feasibility of exclusion is easy and consumption is subtractive, an output is described as a private good or service. If a tree can be protected from outsiders it is likely that most of its tangible outputs fall into this category. This would include building poles, fuelwood, medicines, fruits, nuts and other forest products. It is also possible to have a private service. The shade from a gawo tree in the middle of a farmer's field is an example of a private service: it buffers crops planted near it and helps the soil retain its moisture during a drought. These benefits accrue only to the farmer who plants the land under the tree.

When there is high demand for a private good or service and this demand exceeds supply, potential users will compete for the limited supply.

This competition for resources, which often results in higher prices for the good, creates strong incentives for people to become producers of the goods that are in short supply. When access can be controlled and the benefits are subtractive, those who plant or protect trees are able to realize a profit, whether the trees are used for fuelwood, fruit and nut crops, building materials or traditional medicines.

Toll goods and services

When the feasibility of exclusion is relatively easy (as with a private good) but consumption of benefits is joint rather than subtractive, then the output is known as a toll good or service. Parks and game reserves are examples of toll goods or services. Access can be controlled to these areas at reasonable cost, and many of the outputs can be shared among numerous users. These outputs include the possibility of watching and photographing animals, and camping in beautiful surroundings. The demand for services and the ability to exclude those who do not pay for the services create an incentive to establish these parks and enable the owners to earn profits from their investment. In this way toll goods and services are similar to private goods and services: there is an incentive for entrepreneurs to invest in these products, and they do not necessarily require collective action (even though governments often do create and run parks).

Common pool goods and services

When the consumption of benefits is subtractive (as with private goods) but the feasibility of exclusion is difficult, then the output is known as a common pool good or service. Maman's gawo poles were an example of a common pool good. He could not keep people out of his field (at least not at a reasonable cost) and once the herder had cut the saplings, his animals had browsed the fallen branches and others had taken the stems for building poles, Maman could not use the trees for anything else.

The case study notes that farmers living in Garin Dan Djibo have small herds of goats and cattle. During the dry season the goats are left free to graze on the empty fields. The shrub and tree leaves on which they graze thus become a common pool good. Since access to the resource is not controlled, the goat owners capture the benefits of their goats' consumption and they have an incentive to increase the number of goats as much as they can. As all the owners increase their herd size, seeking private benefit, the goats may begin to damage or destroy the vegetation. In a case such as this, the private benefit exists at a cost to the larger group of users and the owners of the resource. This is often a problem in the governance of common pool resources.

The products of community forests (fuelwood, medicinal products, nuts, browse) have the characteristics of common pool goods when it is difficult to exclude outsiders from the benefits of these forests. In cases where it is difficult to control access to common pool resources and to regulate their use, individuals do not generally feel an incentive to protect these resources. Rather, if they want to use common pool products they have an incentive to use as much as they can as fast they can before someone else does. In cases such as Maman's, where the resources are not easily subject to exclusion, the owners may simply decide that it is not worth investing in these goods since they are not sure of reaping the benefits. This is known as a 'free-rider' problem because some people obtain benefits from others' efforts without making an investment in the effort. Hence when demand exceeds supply, common pool resources pose a particular kind of problem that requires active governance to solve.

Public goods and services

Public goods and services are those that have low feasibility of exclusion and are consumed jointly. As seen above, both of these factors tend to discourage private investment in the resource. Since people's individual interests do not usually favour good management of public goods, it often requires a high level of community organization and effective governance to ensure sustain-able management of these goods.

Reduced wind erosion is an example of a public service to which all have uncontrolled joint access. Adequate tree and bush cover on land exposed to strong winds will reduce wind erosion. The benefits of the tree cover will be enjoyed by many people in addition to the individual or family that planted or cared for the trees, since all the land within the wind shadow of the trees will remain productive longer than if the trees were not there.

What are the implications in terms of incentives for individuals? Since it is nearly impossible to exclude people from using land within the wind shadow, those who invest in trees to reduce erosion have no way to recoup their investments by demanding that people pay for access to reduced wind. If some farmers like Maman take the trouble to plant trees, others whose fields lie within the wind shadow will benefit from the public service of reduced wind erosion even if they are not willing to plant trees themselves. This is another form of the 'free-rider' problem noted above.

People have an incentive, as described above in the private goods category, to invest in trees from which they can harvest a private good such as poles, leaves or fruit. The incentive is much weaker when the output is a public good or service such as reduced wind erosion. If the direct benefits to the individual farmer are few (even if the overall benefits to the village would be many if many people planted trees) then people collectively may not show much interest in maintaining trees on their fields. Even when the direct benefits are appreciable many people may refuse to invest because they do not want others to 'ride free' on their efforts.

This is why economists note that when provision of public goods and services is left to private effort supplies are generally inadequate to meet demand. 'Underprovision' is the norm. People may well want better air quality, but acting solely as individuals they will not invest enough to get the better air that they all want. To obtain what they want, people need to get together, identify the public good or service that they desire and then organize collective action to obtain it. A village might decide that in order to deal with a severe wind erosion problem every family should plant 10 trees per hectare over a five-year period. If all the villagers know that there is an enforceable rule requiring every family to plant trees, they are more likely to comply. They are less likely to comply if they fear that they alone are investing the effort and that the main people to benefit will be their neighbours downwind who will not take the trouble to plant trees themselves.

Implications for resource management

The distinctions between private, common pool, toll and public resources are critical. They help to explain why in some situations people are willing to invest in managing resources sustainably while in others those same people will act in ways that are harmful to their resource base by increasing their herd sizes, for example, or by overharvesting their forest resources.

A first step for communities and development practitioners who are working together to improve the management of their forest resources is to identify the resources and outputs that present problems. There are numerous indicators of resource problems. One indicator is a notable deterioration in the quantity or quality of a resource. Villagers may notice that there are fewer varieties of medicinal plants than ill the past. The forester may observe that certain species of useful trees are not regenerating as they should. Both groups may be concerned by evidence of soil erosion. Another indicator of a problem area is the incidence of conflicts over tree or forest resources. Maman's anger over the theft of his gawo poles is a case in point. Disputes over the theft of fruit or the poaching of wood in a community woodlot are other conflicts that signal potentially important resource management problems.

Once the resource and outputs involved in the problem have been identified, the framework outlined above can be used to categorize the outputs according to types of goods and services and then to determine what incentives follow. What are the incentives to manage the resource sustainably? What are the incentives to exploit the resource without regard to its sustain-ability?

This will also be useful in determining what type of response is needed to change incentives and people's behaviour. This will vary considerably depending on the type of resource and output involved. In the case of a private good, where the individual reaps most of the benefits, the forester may be able to persuade people to plant more trees simply by informing them (if they do not already know) of the benefits. If villagers have places to plant trees where they can exclude unauthorized users the community forester might be able to inform them about species of mangoes that produce in the off-season when few fruits are available. Once they have this information individuals may eagerly invest in these varieties of mango. If the trees have the characteristics of private goods, people will feel secure that they will enjoy the benefits of their investment.

In the case of a common pool or public good, individual incentives alone are unlikely to lead people to invest because, as in Maman's case, they are not sure of recouping the benefits. In this case a broader community strategy may be required to modify the incentive structure so that people will be more likely to invest and will feel more secure that they will recoup the benefits of their investment. This is where it becomes important to study the community (Chapter 4) to see whether it has the capacity and desire to organize collective activities to promote better resource use.

There are many ways in which individuals and communities can modify the incentives related to resources in an effort to change behaviour and improve governance. Sometimes they involve taking a resource that is categorized as 'difficult' (common pool or public) and doing something that will make it more of a private or toll resource so that people will have a stronger incentive to protect and nurture it. Fencing may make a common pool resource that had low feasibility of exclusion into a toll or private resource for which access to benefits can be controlled. Dividing the responsibility for trees in a woodlot and guaranteeing that individuals who care for the trees will have rights to at least some of the output mimics the incentives for a private good and thus increases the chance that people will invest in maintaining the resource.

This chapter has discussed the set of incentives related to the characteristic of the resource or, more precisely, the output. The Guidelines Box on the following page focuses on practical suggestions for evaluating resource incentives before returning to the case study where these issues are dealt with in the context of Garin Dan Djibo.

Guidelines for Implementing an institutional Analysis: Studying the Characteristics of the Resource

The purpose of this part of the Study is to identify incentives to behaviour that are related to the characteristics of the resource.

1. Identify the outputs (goods or services) of the resource that are causing the conflictual or problematic situation (or, in some cases, the lack of outputs).

2. Determine whether access to the output in question is easy to control or difficult to control.

3. Determine whether the output is a subtractive good (in which one persons consumption necessarily diminishes the quantity available to the next potential user) or whether it permits joint consumption (in which many people may use the resource without diminishing the amount available to others).

The information needed to classify resources can be obtained by and discussion with various people. This can be done most effectively by actually visiting the sites and observing what happens around the resources. If livestock are roaming freely without herders in wooded and cultivated areas, it is likely that the resources are common pool and that access to them is open during that season. If fields or individual trees within fields are fenced, it is more likely that the resources have the characteristics of private goods. It may also be useful to do participatory mapping with the local population to understand more dearly where the resources under study are located in relation to other significant factors. How close are they to areas inhabited by local people, or by people from neighbouring villages? Are they close to public passageways? Are they concentrated in one or a few areas or are they widely dispersed?

4. Classify the output(s) according to Table 1 on page 29 into one of the following categories: private good, toll good, common pool good or public good.

In classifying the resource, do so without regard to the rules (the rule-related aspects of exclusion will be addressed in Chapter 5). Focus on whether exclusion is easy or difficult and whether consumption is joint or subtractive, given the location of the resources and any available technologies (such as fencing) that allow the community to control access to trees and forest resources.

5. In light of this classification identify the Incentives of community members to use the resource either sustainably or unsustainably.

In analysing incentives it may be helpful to keep in mind that in general higher feasibility of exclusion tends to result in stronger incentives for individuals to produce and maintain resources when demand exceeds supply. Private incentives to invest in producing or maintaining resources also tend to be stronger when the output is subtractive. In cases where the incentives created by the characteristics of the resource are insufficient to protect and maintain those resources as desired by the community, the collectivity may decide to create additional incentives by changing the rules governing resource access and use.

Case Study: Analysis of resource characteristics in Garin Dan Djibo

The extension agent who had met Maman returning from the fields spent several days mulling over the sad scene he had witnessed and asking himself why he had ever entered such a dismal profession. He thought about his brother's suggestion several years earlier that he join him in a business venture in the capital city and wondered why he had not taken him up on the offer. He despaired of ever accomplishing anything in these remote villages. For several days his thoughts were dominated by these pessimistic ruminations. One afternoon, while sipping mint tea behind the extension office, he got into a conversation with one of his colleagues in the forestry department and described his frustrations. The colleague shared his dismay but begged the extension agent not to give up his career and move to the city. By the third glass of tea they had vented most of their frustrations and the discussion began to take a more positive tone as they wondered together whether there was anything they could do to change the situation.

The extension agent and the forester decided to revisit Garin Dan Djibo, discuss what had happened with Maman and then try to work out some solution with the villagers. The forester proposed that they try some of the techniques he had learned recently at a workshop. He briefly sketched out the approach for his friend, explaining that they would have to get more information about the resources that were part of the management problem, about the community and its capacity for collective action, and about the rules system at work. With this information in hand they hoped they would be able to collaborate with the village to work out new resource governance arrangements that would protect the investments of farmers like Maman.

Maman, for his part, spent a similarly dismal several days pondering his wasted efforts and wondering whether he should take up an offer his uncle had made several years ago to join him in a radio repair venture he had set up in Abidjan. His wife was horrified at this idea, however, and cried out that she would rather remain poor in the village, where at least they were together and had food to eat, than lose her husband for she did not know how long to a distant and to her mind dangerous city. Discouraged and confronted with this family dilemma, Maman was surprised not long afterward to see the extension agent and local forester approaching his compound. He did not even want to talk about those wretched gawo trees, but in the tradition of the region he welcomed his guests warmly and they were soon discussing the situation over the requisite glasses of steaming tea.

Three glasses later, Maman was convinced that they should at least try to find a solution to his problem. The forester had persuaded him that this would benefit not only him but also other villagers both in Garin Dan Djibo and the surrounding area. If successful, such an initiative could have an important impact on the environment. Maman knew that there were at least a few other people in the village, and particularly in his neighbourhood, who knew about his problem and were concerned that a solution be found. They finished their tea, bought some kola nuts at the tiny shop near the centre of the village and set off together to talk to the chief of the village.

The chief was frail and elderly, the oldest man in the village. As soon as he heard that visitors were approaching he sent his younger wife to tell two of his closest peers on the Council of Elders to join him in the meeting. They arrived after a few minutes and after introductions and the presentation of the kola nuts Maman and his visitors explained the situation. The chief and elders listened carefully, occasionally interjecting questions or comments.

The chief was particularly concerned that Maman had not informed him earlier of the problem and expressed anger that he had heard about the damaged trees only through rumours that had been circulating in the village. Maman apologized, explaining that since he did not know who had cut the trees but suspected that it was a passing herder, he had thought there was not much that could be done about it. The chief and elders agreed that the forester could discuss the issue with the village, though they noted that it was difficult to get all the villagers together. They promised to inform the rest of the population of the situation and to try to identify some people who might want to work on the issue with the forester. The forester said that the team would study the issue and eventually present findings and proposals to the village concerning what might be done.

As they were leaving, the chief asked the forester what they should do about problems in their village woodlot. It had been set up nearly 20 years earlier by a previous extension agent who was working at the time with a project that had long since left the area. The villagers did not know whom the trees belonged to or who was allowed to cut them. The forester explained that the techniques they would be using to study the gawo issue could also be used to find a better management strategy for the woodlot. He suggested, however, that they first work on the gawo question and then examine the woodlot problem at a later date.

Formation of the Committee

Over the next few weeks a committee was put in place to work with the forester and extension agent. Two elders with a long history of concern for environmental issues in the community indicated an interest in participating and each of the village's three neighbourhoods also chose two people to work on the problem. Maman was one of the representatives from his neighbourhood. The forester at first suggested that one man and one woman be chosen as neighbourhood representatives, but the villagers persuaded him that since the issue concerned the trees on men's fields the men would be more interested in participating than the women. By then the rains had started and farmers were all busy with fieldwork, so the team decided to put off any further activities until after the harvest. They agreed to set aside a two-week period after the sale of the groundnut crop to work with the extension agent and forester to analyse the gawo tree issue and propose possible solutions to the rest of the village.

In late November the team gathered. The forester proposed a plan, explaining the kinds of information they would gather and suggesting different ways to collect it. He proposed that they carry out a modified Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), using a range of techniques to collect the information that might include interviewing other villagers, holding a few group meetings at which issues would be discussed and using tools such as Venn Diagrams and historical matrices to analyse relevant issues. Since herders from outside the village also had a stake in the issue, the team decided that half of its members would travel with the forester to a village some 15 km away where the herders congregated to water their animals at a tubewell. They would hold discussions with herders to get their perspective on the issue. Several men on the committee expressed concern that they could not devote two full weeks to the study because they had other tasks they needed to accomplish. The group decided to work from Thursday to Sunday for two consecutive weeks and then evaluate where they were in the process, working a few days into the third week if necessary.

On their first day together the forester explained the principles and tools of PRA, and the group sat down to draft objectives concerning what it wanted to learn about the situation. Over the next two weeks the committee and the forester, with occasional participation from the extension agent, gathered information about resources, the community and the rules systems at work in addition to other relevant information. (The information collected about each of these topics will be presented following the chapter in which the topic is addressed.)

Analysis of Gawo Characteristics

Once the information had been collected the team members began to organize it into the categories they had outlined from the beginning: information about the resource, the community and its rules system. Following the forester's guidance, they began by looking at the characteristics of the gawo tree and what those characteristics implied for the management problem they faced. They noted first that trees on fields close to the village rarely, if ever, suffered damage from cutting because people could easily see who was in the fields. Herders did not usually come so close to the village since they risked damaging gardens and otherwise getting into conflicts with the villagers. By long tradition in the area, however, after the fields were harvested they were open for grazing by both village and outside cattle. This meant that both local herders and strangers often passed through the outer fields of the village. Because these fields were out of sight of the inhabited part of the village, it was far more difficult to control what happened in these fields. So the team concluded that the gawos in question were in the category of a resource to which it was difficult to control access.

There was considerable discussion over the benefits of the gawo and how they should be classified in the schema proposed by the forester. All agreed from their own experiences in seeing the impact of gawo trees on their own crops that there were clear private benefits from the tree. Several team members were more skeptical about the public benefits, such as reducing wind and soil erosion. Maman suggested that they talk to the farmer whose fields were adjacent to his. The farmer confirmed that indeed his fields had produced somewhat better crops since Maman's trees had matured. This personal testimonial convinced the previously skeptical team members that the tree could produce both subtractive benefits and (particularly if it grew more thickly) joint benefits but that most of the relevant benefits for the purpose of their study were subtractive ones.

Given these characteristics (difficulty of exclusion and predominantly subtractive benefits), the team concluded that the gawos in question should be considered common pool goods. This conformed with what they already knew of the case: private incentives would probably be insufficient to persuade people to invest in the resource. Indeed they had Maman's experience as a case in point and could see that he had been discouraged from putting any more effort into protecting gawo trees because he could not control the distribution of benefits.

The team members were excited that the pieces of this resource puzzle were beginning to come together and make some sense. They were also beginning to see how they could carry out the same type of analysis to address the problems in their community woodlot. First, however, they were eager to continue their study of the gawo problem in hopes of finding some solution. They felt that this was all the more important since some members of the team who had not paid much attention to gawo before were becoming more interested as the study progressed. They wanted to find a solution at least partly so that they themselves could begin protecting gawo in their own fields! Their next step, then, was to think about their own community and how it might best organize a solution to the problem.


Previous Page Top of Page Next Page