«Dissertations Forestales 149 Forest law compliance in the High-Forest Zone of Ghana: an analysis of forest farmers’ livelihoods, their forest ...»
Following Nielsen (2003), variables that constitute legitimacy are divided into process (procedural legitimacy) and outcome (outcome legitimacy). The variables of process legitimacy include participation in the decision-making process, representation, transparency and the accountability of the rule-making process (Tyler 1990, Nielsen and Mathiesen 2003, Viteri and Chávez 2007). Outcome legitimacy is related to the rules themselves, their quality, and their practical implications for forest users. Important variables include the distributional effects of rules (e.g., granted rights to forest), consistency (the degree to which forest rules complement existing rules and practices and/or the ease with which forest users can adapt them), and coherence (i.e., perceptions among forest users that rules are meaningful in a broader context and will contribute to larger management objectives such as the regeneration of forest stocks and the solution of deforestation problems).
External context-specific variables are derived from the sources of non-compliance in the forest sector, including regulatory constraints, the capacity of authorities, corruption, property/ownership, market and trade, economic incentives and disincentives, the perceived fairness of legislation, forest culture, transparency and accountability, forest conflicts and poverty and livelihood needs (see Article IV for a detailed description of these variables).
The majority of these context-specific factors are not specifically related to individual-level motivations (with the exception of the perceived fairness of legislation). Instead, they are characteristics of the external environment and are assumed to influence compliance decisions by altering the motivational structure of the alternatives; more precisely, by altering the instrumental incentives, legitimacy and social and personal norms. For instance, shifts in context, most notably property rights, can activate certain motivations or cause shifts to occur between instrumental outcomes and normative preferences (Ostrom 1990, Vatn 2005, Biel and Thøgersen 2007). Property and use rights granted by the authorities’ decisions are likely to influence the legitimacy of authorities (Nielsen 2003) but also the perceived fairness of rules because as this study has shown, forest users often have predefined beliefs about their rights to the forest. Markets, on the other hand, can alter the instrumental distribution of benefits and costs in a variety of ways. Changes in demand can undermine compliance when the value of forest products increases (Sutinen et al. 1990, Nielsen 2003). Further, corruption may affect the likelihood and fear of sanction if it is realised that sanction can be avoided through informal payments to law-enforcement agencies. On the other hand, the perception that the law-enforcement agencies are corrupt affects judgments about the legitimacy of that agency as well as the norm of fairness.
Poverty influences the compliance of rural forest users such as farming communities by influencing the expected costs and benefits resulting from an illegal action but also by influencing peer behaviour and peer pressure. As this study (see Article III) and other studies (e.g., Gezelius 2004) have shown, peer pressure declines if non-compliance occurs for subsistence reasons but increases if it occurs for the purpose of the commercial use of resources.
6. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
This section is divided into four parts. In the first part, the results are discussed in terms of the relevant theoretical and empirical literature, and the major assumptions derived from the results are outlined. An attempt is made to address results and issues that, although relevant, have been discussed to a lesser degree in published PhD articles. The second part outlines the major policy implications of the study, and the third outlines some methodological and conceptual limitations. Finally, in the last part of this section, some concluding remarks and needs for further research are provided.
6.1 Discussion of results
Assessing livelihoods and recognising livelihood as a factor in law compliance behaviour Assessing and understanding the livelihoods of forest communities in the context of the EU FLEGT VPA in Ghana requires an in-depth analysis and thorough understanding of larger governance, policy, and institutional issues such as the rights and powers of forest communities (Article I). These issues directly define and influence the forest-based livelihoods of the vulnerable and marginalised communities who are dependent on forest resources (Baumann 2000, Cotula and Mayers 2009). Currently, the sustainable livelihoods framework (SLF or framework hereafter) is the most widely applied methodology for livelihood assessment and acts as a model for frameworks and methodologies with similar objectives (DFID 2002, Brocklesby and Fisher 2003). Governance, policy and institutional issues (e.g., rights to the forest, power relationships, participation, laws and norms and culture) in the SLF are covered in a broad area known as ‘policies, institutions and processes’ (Carney 1998, DFID 2002). Various challenges with regards to the assessment of complex issues such as power relations, political capital, institutional dynamics and changes using the SLF have been acknowledged (Baumann 2000, Carney 2002). This research does not study the methodological limitations of the SLF in detail. However, it informs further studies aiming to assess the livelihood impacts of forest policy instruments, such as the EU FLEGT to draw due attention to the policy and institutional aspects of such instruments.
Expanding further on the issue of livelihood, its relevance throughout this thesis should be highlighted. The struggle for livelihood was identified as one of the major reasons why farmers ascribe a high importance to forests (Article II) as well as one of the relevant factors influencing farmers’ law compliance behaviour (Article III). The former confirms the well-established finding that farming communities in Ghana primarily derive their livelihoods and subsistence benefits from forests, unlike commercial benefits (Blay et al.
2008, Abane 2009, Appiah and Pappinen 2010). The latter finding, on the other hand, proposes that farmers will disobey certain forest rules if those rules compromise their ability to maintain their tenuous livelihoods. The lack of compliance with the tree-felling rule directly confirms this assumption, showing an increased level of non-compliance due to, among other reasons, livelihood and subsistence needs (Article III). The latter finding, however, might be specific to the forest users in this study. Namely, livelihood is an important factor in rule compliance for those groups who most directly depend on the forest for subsistence—e.g., forest communities and impoverished rural populations. However, the relevance of livelihood as a factor of compliance in the context of the timber industry and illegal timber extraction is likely to be smaller (Article IV). In the case of illegally operating timber companies, factors such as market and economic incentives are likely to prevail (Contreras-Hermosilla 2002, Contreras-Hermosilla and Peter 2005, Tacconi 2007a, Blaser 2010).
Importance and interpretation of forest values by farmers and the societal and cultural contexts of their concepts of value Concerning forest values and their importance to farmers, it should be stressed that use forest values (e.g., the opportunity to use the forest for timber, farming, food production, rainfall, bushmeat, etc.) were perceived to be more important in comparison to non-use forest values (e.g., the opportunity to enjoy the forest’s beauty or the intrinsic values of the forest). Furthermore, farmers perceived many forest values in the context of their livelihoods and subsistence (Article II/Table 3). Comparing these results with the results from studies conducted in different societal, economic and cultural contexts, it can be observed that the same forest values are interpreted and understood differently in different contexts. For instance, the public in the United States associates economic forest values with various commodities, intensive harvesting and financial benefits (Bengston and Xu 1995, Manning, et al. 1999), whereas farmers in Ghana associate them with life-supporting and subsistence needs (e.g., the provision and sales of unprocessed food from forest and other non-timber forest products, building of shelters). Similarly, whereas environmental values are often associated with biodiversity, endangered species, wilderness and climate regulation (Bengston and Xu 1995, Manning, et al. 1999), in this study, they are associated with rainfall for farming, soil fertility, and bushmeat (Article II/Table 3). These findings imply that the meaning of forest values depends on the specific socio-economic and cultural context in which forest values are examined. This is in accordance with earlier studies, which show that values are grounded in wider social and cultural (Bengston 1994, Williams and Watson 2007) as well as ethical contexts (Saastamoinen 2005).
Similarly, the assigned importance of forest values differs among different contexts. For instance, the prominent shift in forest value orientation from utilitarian to non-utilitarian and from anthropocentric to biocentric suggested to have occurred in Australia (Web et al.
2008) and the United States (Manning et al. 1999, Bengston et al. 2004) is not observed in the current study. Although additional reasons and explanations are worth examining, an obvious implication of the results is that people are more likely to value aesthetic or intrinsic forest values once their basic livelihood and subsistence needs are satisfied.
Values and law compliance behaviour The study suggests certain linkages between farmers’ forest values and their forest law compliance behaviour (Article II). This finding is generally consistent with the cognitive hierarchy model (McFarlane and Boxall 1999, Vaske and Donnelly 1999) and supports the normative perspective on law compliance (Tyler 1990). However, the observed results should not be overstated. As shown in Articles III and IV, human behaviour, both in general and in terms of law compliance in particular, is highly complex and therefore difficult to study and model. The current study does not conduct an in-depth analysis concerning the impacts of values on law compliance behaviour. Further, the analysis did not include some important theoretical variables, such as the fear of sanction, the perceived fairness of rules, and social norms (Becker 1968, Tyler 1990, Nielsen 2003) The primary strength of this specific analysis involves the provision of a theoretical framework within which to study an interesting and novel empirical issue, as well as the provision of forwardlooking assumptions regarding potential associations between forest values and compliance (Article II). Therefore, additional and more detailed studies are needed to further explore these associations. In this context, it is recommended that researchers consider a wider range of variables with potential influences on law compliance behaviour (Article IV). The application of theories that address the impact of context on motivations and behaviours in specific situations, such as the theory of planned behaviour, is also recommended (Ajzen 1991, Karppinen 2005).
Factors in forest law compliance The perceived fairness of forest rules, domestic and livelihood needs for resources, existing social norms, fear of sanction, and the legitimacy of authorities are all found to influence farmers’ compliance with forest legislation. This finding contradicts the so-called economic or deterrence model of compliance—the major model currently informing the policy response to forest illegalities, according to which compliance depends on instrumental factors (i.e., expected benefits and costs). This model has been criticised by scientists from various fields, including sociology and psychology, for being limited, omitting the normative, social, and cognitive dimensions of human behaviour and their impacts on policy and practice (e.g., Carrol 1987, Elster 1989, Elickson 1998, Murphy 2005). This study suggests that normative (e.g., social norms, personal morality, fairness), instrumental (e.g., fear of sanction and economic benefits), and contextual factors (e.g., corruption, trade, poverty) engage in complex interactions that collectively influence law compliance behaviour in specific situations (Articles II-IV).
Concerning the compliance of forest farming communities in particular, Article III identified livelihood needs and the perceived lack of fairness as the two major reasons for the high rate of non-compliance with the tree-felling rule. Drawing on these specific
findings, the following hypothesis concerning farmers’ forest law compliance is proposed:
to the extent that the forest rules decrease the livelihood options of farmers and the perceived fairness of the rules, non-compliance with those rules increases. Thus, ensuring alternative livelihood options, reducing people’s vulnerability, and enhancing the perceived fairness of forest rules should be fundamental parts of any initiative aimed at improving compliance with forest rules among farmers and generally reducing the illegality of forest activities.
Although the relevance of the norm of fairness emerged as most prominent, other general norms based on tradition, culture and religion also influenced farmers’ compliance with forest rules (Article III). An additional norm that significantly influenced compliance is peer behaviour and the social approval of non-compliance. The study’s findings suggest the following assumption: the higher the levels of social approval for non-compliance and the perceptions that others do not comply are, the higher are the rates of individual noncompliance (Table III). This assumption, however, is context-dependent. For instance, in the case of the tree felling rule, the actual non-compliance is even higher than the social approval for non-compliance, which again elevates the importance of context in rule compliance behaviour.