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During the last decade, field experiments regarding the study of common pool resource governance have been performed that replicated earlier findings of laboratory experiments. One of the questions is how the decisions made by participants in rural communities are influenced by their experience. This paper presents the results of field experiments in Colombia and Thailand on fishery resources. Context information is derived from the communities via in-depth interviews, surveys and role playing exercises. The use of different methodological tools allowed to link decisions in field experiments with contextual variables for two fishery villages. Explanation of core variables in social dilemmas is given, the degree of cooperation levels, preferred rules, rule compliance and enforcement. Main findings include: i) fishermen made decisions in the field experiments that reflected their own experience and context, ii) agreements for rule crafting are possible only under specific conditions that guarantees livelihoods and sustainability, iii) the broader context determines cooperation levels at a local level, iv) inequalities in the sanctioning of rule breakers decrease the possibilities of reaching cooperation agreements, and v) high levels of trust among local fishermen is not a sufficient condition for resource sustainability, when trust in external rule makers and enforcers is low.
Keywords: Field experiments; Role games; Fisheries; Rules; Cooperation; Trust
This paper presents a framework for the study of policy implementation in highly uncertain natural resource systems in which uncertainty cannot be characterized by probability distributions. We apply the framework to parametric uncertainty in the traditional Gordon–Schaefer model of a fishery to illustrate how performance can be sacrificed (traded-off) for reduced sensitivity and hence increased robustness, with respect to model parameter uncertainty. With sufficient data, our robustness–vulnerability analysis provides tools to discuss policy options. When less data are available, it can be used to inform the early stages of a learning process. Several key insights emerge from this analysis: (1) the classic optimal control policy can be very sensitive to parametric uncertainty, (2) even mild robustness properties are difficult to achieve for the simple Gordon–Schaefer model, and (3) achieving increased robustness with respect to some parameters (e.g., biological parameters) necessarily results in increased sensitivity (decreased robustness) with respect to other parameters (e.g., economic parameters). We thus illustrate fundamental robustness–vulnerability trade-offs and the limits to robust natural resource management. Finally, we use the framework to explore the effects of infrequent sampling and delays on policy performance.
Keywords: Resource management; Uncertainty; Robust control; Policy implementation; Learning; Vulnerability
A critical challenge faced by sustainability science is to develop strategies to cope with highly uncertain social and ecological dynamics. This article explores the use of the robust control framework toward this end. After briefly outlining the robust control framework, we apply it to the traditional Gordon–Schaefer fishery model to explore fundamental performance–robustness and robustness–vulnerability trade-offs in natural resource man- agement. We find that the classic optimal control policy can be very sensitive to parametric uncertainty. By exploring a large class of alternative strategies, we show that there are no panaceas: even mild robustness properties are difficult to achieve, and increasing robustness to some parameters (e.g., biological parameters) results in decreased robustness with respect to others (e.g., economic parameters). On the basis of this example, we extract some broader themes for better management of resources under uncer- tainty and for sustainability science in general. Specifically, we focus attention on the importance of a continual learning process and the use of robust control to inform this process.
Keywords: natural resources; resource management; vulnerability; policy design; environmental policy