How Community-Based Rangeland Management Achieves Positive Social Outcomes In Mongolia: A Moderated Mediation Analysis
Evidence-based policy guidance necessary for addressing mixed outcomes of community-based rangeland management (CBRM) is limited, dominated by case studies, and lacking coverage of diverse ecological settings. In remedy, we studied 65 traditional neighborhoods and 77 formally-organized CBRM groups across four ecological zones and investigated how and when CBRM obtains greater social outcomes than non-CBRM neighborhoods. We measured pastoralists’ social capital, rangeland management practices, and behavior using a mixed-methods approach including qualitative interviews, focus groups, and quantitative questionnaires of 706 herder households. We applied a conditional process analysis method, novel to CBRM studies, to investigate potential mechanisms by which CBRM affects social outcomes.
CBRM members used significantly more information sources, had stronger leadership, more opportunities for knowledge exchange, and rules for resource use, which were significantly associated with greater social outcomes including the use of traditional and innovative rangeland and herd management practices, proactive behavior, and social networking. Access to diverse information sources emerged as an important variable related to strong local leadership, knowledge exchange, and setting rules for rangeland use. Ecological context had a strong association with the level of CBRM social outcomes achieved through this process. The statistical effect of CBRM, mediated by information, leadership, knowledge exchange, and rules, was significantly greater on proactive behaviors of desert steppe herders compared to herders in non-desert steppe zones. Further, CBRM mediated by the same four variables, was associated with higher social networking among herders in the mountain and forest steppe, steppe, and desert steppe but not in the eastern steppe. Our findings suggest why CBRM outcomes have been mixed in Mongolia and elsewhere, and point to the importance of accounting for local context in facilitating development of pastoral institutions. Policies to support CBRM should consider prioritizing resource users’ access to diverse information, leadership development, and involvement in elaborating community rules for resource management and local forums for information exchange.