The role of incentive-based instruments and social equity in conservation conflict interventions


Rakotonarivo SO, Bell AR, Abernethy K, Minderman J, Duthie AB, Redpath S, Keane A, Travers H, Bourgeois S, Moukagni L, Cusack JJ, Jones IL, Pozo RA & Bunnefeld N (2021) The role of incentive-based instruments and social equity in conservation conflict interventions. Ecology and Society, 26 (2), Art. No.: 8.

Conflicts between biodiversity conservation and other human activities are multifaceted. Understanding farmer preferences for various conflict mitigation strategies is therefore critical. We developed a novel interactive game around farmer land management decisions across 18 villages in Gabon to examine responses to three elephant conflict mitigation options: use of elephant deterrent methods, flat-rate subsidy, and agglomeration payments rewarding coordinated action for setting land aside for elephants. We found that all three policies significantly reduced participants’ inclinations to engage in lethal control. Use of deterrents and agglomeration payments were also more likely to reduce decisions to kill elephants in situations where levels of social equity were higher. Only the two monetary incentives increased farmers’ predisposition to provide habitats for elephants, suggesting that incentive-based instruments were conducive to pro-conservation behavior; different subsidy levels did not affect responses. Likewise, neither participants’ socioeconomic characteristics nor their real-life experiences of crop damage by elephants affected game decisions. Killing behavior in the games was 64% lower in villages influenced by protected areas than in villages surrounded by logging concessions, highlighting the need to address conservation conflicts beyond protected areas. Our study shows the importance of addressing underlying social conflicts, specifically equity attitudes, prior to, or alongside addressing material losses.

conservation conflict; human behavior; human–elephant conflict; human–wildlife conflict; interactive game; monetary incentives; stakeholder engagement

Ecology and Society: Volume 26, Issue 2

FundersEuropean Commission (Horizon 2020)
Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online30/04/2021
Date accepted by journal19/01/2021