Institutional diversity and local forest governance

Institutional diversity and local forest governance

Krister Andersson, Jean Paul Benavides , Rosario León


  • We investigate the effects of distinct institutional arrangements on forest conditions.
  • We analyze observations from 200 rural communities in Bolivia.
  • Institutions for rule-making, monitoring, and sanctioning affect forest conditions.
  • The more governance activities local users engage in, the better it is for forests.


Scholarship on common-pool resource governance suggests that collective outcomes vary with the strength of the local arrangements for compliance monitoring. Following Elinor Ostrom’s approach to question panaceas, we explore the possibility that there are multiple institutional designs can help sustain forests. We test this argument with data from a sample of 200 forest user groups in Bolivia and find broad empirical support for our propositions: Local monitoring can be an important predictor of forest governance performance, but focusing on monitoring alone can be misleading. Sometimes other aspects of the local governance system, such as self-organized rule making and sanctioning, are more important in explaining why some groups govern their forests more effectively than others. We also find that the more governance functions that communities decide to organize themselves, the more likely it is that local forests are sustained.

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