Co-creating Knowledge, Understanding, and Action for Effective Natural Resource Conservation
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Previous research shows that socio-cultural factors play an important role in determining the outcomes of natural resource conservation. Conservationists have discovered that when such factors are not properly incorporated from the earliest planning stages, projects are often less successful than hoped and at times outright failures. Thus, several core values that vary among cultures were studied to examine their relationships to natural resources and conservation. This study investigated the relationships between natural resources and conservation and the 3 value orientations individualism, collectivism, and locus of control and socio-demographics in the North Rupununi, Guyana. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected in 5 villages (Annai Central, Apoteri, Rewa, Aranaputa, and Wowetta) via participant observation and mostly structured interviews of 167 local residents. Field research took place from January to November 2008, and interviews occurred from July to October of the same year. Analysis indicates the following results for this sample. Neither the individualism measurement used in this study not the locus of control scale showed many statistically significant associations, but some interesting patterns and trends appear in the case of locus of control. In contrast, the collectivism scale showed associations to several of the natural resource items. The main conclusions from the study are that to promote more successful conservation, professionals need to focus on several factors that promote more effective communication and negotiation. Developing equity among participants; empowering people through their own knowledge, influence, and options; establishing respect by and for all parties; co-creating a common mental model among the parties; and fostering the competence and confidence of all parties to actively participate in the negotiations are key to success. This can be especially tricky in cases in which the various parties come from different socio-cultural backgrounds, such as in the case of Western scientists working with remote indigenous peoples. Coming to a shared mental model and feelings of true equity among the parties is even harder then because the disparate backgrounds make common understanding difficult at best. However, it is that much more necessary when common backgrounds are absent. In such cases, a well-trained, culturally sensitive, and neutral facilitator can be the most useful tool to help co-create the right circumstances for authoring solutions which foster natural resource conservation that can succeed.
SubjectNorth Rupununi, Guyana
locus of control
natural resource conservation
Weber, Laura (2012). Co-creating Knowledge, Understanding, and Action for Effective Natural Resource Conservation. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from