Nilsson L, Bunnefeld N, Minderman J & Duthie AB (2021) Effects of stakeholder empowerment on crane population and agricultural production. Ecological Modelling, 440, Art. No.: 109396. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2020.109396
Conflicts between opposing objectives of wildlife conservation and agriculture are increasing globally due to rising human food production and competition with wildlife over land use. Conservation conflicts are often complex and driven by variability and uncertainty in wildlife distribution and stakeholder wealth and power. To manage conflicts, empowering local stakeholders by decentralizing decisions and actions has been suggested to promote democratization and awareness of stakeholders. There is, however, a current gap in the understanding of how stakeholder empowerment (e.g., farmers’ and managers’ practical, time or monetary resources) affects policy effectiveness. In this study, we apply an individual-based model of management strategy evaluation to simulate the conservation conflict surrounding protected and thriving common cranes (Grus grus) causing damage to agricultural production in Sweden and along the European flyways. We model the effect of farmer empowerment (i.e., increasing budgets to affect populations and agricultural production) in four management scenarios, in which we manipulate the availability and cost of two actions farmers may take in response to crane presence on their land: non-lethal (scaring) or lethal (culling) control. We find that lower budgets lead to increases in population size due to increased use of less costly scaring instead of shooting. Higher farmer budgets lead to increased population extinction risk. Intermediate budgets allow farmers to control the population size around the management target and limit impact on agricultural production to intermediate levels. Our study highlights that stakeholder empowerment and culling strategies based on the number of stakeholders, and particularly their power to implement effective actions, needs careful consideration and monitoring when setting management targets and strategies. Further, our results show that empowering individual farmers has the potential to contribute to conflict management and to balance agricultural with conservation objectives, but increased stakeholder involvement also requires careful planning and monitoring.
Conservation conflict; Grus grus; Human decision making; Individual-based model; Management strategy evaluation; Multi-objective management
Ecological Modelling: Volume 440