Principal Investigators: Cyrus Samii, Alexandra C. Hartman, Darin Christensen
Country: Liberia

Dates of Intervention: September 2017 to August 2018

Background: The intervention is motivated by increased pressure on Liberia's forest resources. First, external demand has increased, including from international investors. Between 2004 and 2009, Deininger and Bylerlee (2011) report that investors acquired or renegotiated concession agreements covering roughly 17 percent of Liberia's land area. Second, local demand has simultaneously increased. Following the end of the Liberian civil war in 2003, resettlement and population growth have increased forest activities, ranging from harvesting timber for local construction (pit-sawing), producing charcoal, and hunting and gathering forest animals and plants (Rivard 2016).

Research Design: The aim of this experiment is to provide information and training that will allow communities to make decisions about forest use that are optimal relative to their conservation or development goals. To help communities manage their forests in a way that maximizes their own welfare, we propose to test the impact of training community members a) to monitor and report about activities ongoing in their communal forests and b) to negotiate over their natural resources with techniques designed to improve the quality and durability of deals they make. We investigate these questions in 120 Liberian communities. Two groups receive either the community monitoring or negotiation treatment, one group receives both and the final group serves as a control.

Hypotheses: We hypothesize that community monitoring (i) can increase knowledge among community members and leaders about the activities ongoing in the forest, (ii) that this information can reduce the cost to leaders and community members’ of enforcing compliance with forest use patterns that does not degrade the value of the forest resource, and then (iii) that this can reduce actual in forest use patterns that degrade the value of forest stocks for external investment opportunities (including timber concessions or carbon credit arrangements).