Chapter 12: Does government regulation complement existing community efforts to support cooperation? Evidence from field experiments in Colombia
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In 2003, the Consejo Comunitario of Bahia Malaga (a community on the Pacific Coast of Colombia) collectively decided to stop harvesting a mollusk called piangua for three months each year. The idea was promoted by the community leaders and harvesters in order to preserve the piangua upon which community members rely for subsistence. During these months, the community exerted what they called social control to enforce the restriction. Because the Pacific Coast of Colombia is considered a hot spot of biodiversity, the sustainable management of natural resources in the region is a priority for local and federal governments, as well as international agencies. Government agencies decided to observe the harvest restrictions, but not intervene. Instead, the agencies gave the community an opportunity to self-regulate before deciding whether government intervention was warranted. There is much empirical evidence that many such communities are able to manage local natural resources more effectively than standard economic theory predicts.

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