- Improving compliance with furbearer trapping rules
Building capacity to comply with conservation laws and rules is a common goal.
An overwhelming number of conservation crime-related interventions are built upon the idea of deterrence. Deterrence suggests the certainty, severity, and swiftness of sanctions will gain compliance with conservation laws or rules. (There are lots of other ideas on lawbreaking criminology, including Strain Theory, Social Learning Theory or Social Bonding. There are also other ways to promote compliance with rules, such as Social Marketing).
As more resources are invested in reducing risks from conservation crime, we will need more methods and tools to understand how effective they are. Deterrence is a concept with broad application to conservation crime.
There are two forms of deterrence theory. Classical deterrence says “rational” actors will perform behaviors they perceive as pleasurable and shy away from behaviors they perceive as painful. The threat of a punishment that is perceived certain, severe, and swift and criminal behavior will be detected and punished. This form of the idea doesn’t explain all human behavior, particularly in a conservation context. Newer notions of deterrence theory suggest we should consider additional variables to understand why people break rules, including moral emotions (e.g., shame, guilt, embarrassment), social disapproval, and motivation. There are many forms of deterrence. The two most common kinds are specific deterrence (e.g., aimed at a known offender) and general deterrence (e.g., aimed at the general population). In conservation, it may be really useful to think about restrictive deterrence, or how rule breakers adapt in order to limit the magnitude, frequency or seriousness of their offenses to avoid pain.
How can rules be efficient, effective, and responsive to local communities?
As the global community has gained increased understandings bout the scope and scale of conservation crimes, a range of societal responses have either emerged or been redirected. New rules and programs have been created, old rules have been updated, and the range of stakeholders vested in reducing risk has increased. This growth has paralleled interest in answers to the question: how can the efficacy of decision-making be improved for conservation crime?
Now is an appropriate time to critically reflect upon not only the opportunities, but some of the challenges and key considerations for governance for and in response to conservation crime.
Enhanced, equitable, and effective governance of natural resources has long been a priority for the global community. Conservation crime occurs alongside issues of declining state sovereignty and the consequent rise of competing forms of governance (e.g., private, inter-, transnational). Who is responsible for creating and enforcing rules? The state? Local communities? Public-private partnerships?
Natural resource management is often decentralized because federal or state agencies lack sufficient capacity to effectively govern, and as a result of emphasis from scholarly and policy communities on community-based management and broader global political economic processes over the last four decades. Community-based conservation and natural resource management is not a perfectly functioning governance system but can produce sustainable benefits for people and natural resources under the right conditions. But if community-based conservation systems are increasingly asked to manage conservation crimes, then communities may be newly tasked with monitoring crime rates, responding to and preventing crime, or partnering with crime control authorities they previously have not engaged with. Although responsibilities for conservation governance may be devolved to communities, these communities are not always vested with authority or deputized for law or order needed for conservation crimes (nor is it necessarily desirable for communities to undertake the associated risks).
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Technology and innovation permeate many dimensions of conservation crime.
Implementing innovative technologies provides opportunities to counter conservation challenges at multiple levels and within every step of the crime process by providing those individuals, organizations, and governments working to dismantle illegal wildlife trade the tools and sophisticated structures necessary for a more holistic and integrated approach to address these problems. One of the potentially most significant benefits that modern technology can contribute to the fight against conservation crime is the ability to coordinate huge amounts of data over space and time more efficiently. This benefit extends across many facets of the wildlife trade chain from patrolling for poaching activity in the field to customs clearance in consumer countries.
Technology and innovation can be both a cause of and a solution for conservation crimes.
Technology also poses challenges. Technological advances have enabled offenders to organize more complicated and successful covert operations. This has contributed to a dramatic rise in poaching and trade and has made situational crime prevention, market reduction approaches, and enforcement more challenging. Modern weapons and technologies for locating wildlife enable illegal killing to occur at much higher success rates than in the past. Modern criminals can more effectively disguise wildlife parts for consumption . In some cases, criminals employ sophisticated, encrypted online communications to plan illicit activities as well as coordinate and maintain networks.
Corruption and organized crime are cousins in the conservation crime space.
Corruption is unique to conservation, but the context of corruption in conservation is complicated. This is because conservation often includes a grey zone between violations of the rule of law and rules in use, or, crime and harm. In general, corruption can be closely aligned with organized crime syndicates; we are just starting to solidify the knowledge base about corruption in conservation. Social norms (i.e., social standards of behavior), play into both corruption and organized crime. Both provide inroads for corrupt behavior or the coercive practices wielded by organized crime syndicates. Perceptions of risk are an important component to think about here—the perceptions of costs and benefits of both corruption and reform and worry about retribution or retaliation or sanction all influence whether or not people engage in illicit behaviors.
Defenders of conservation rules are as diverse as the contexts within which they operate.
Law enforcement authorities, rangers, informal guardians and communities are all involved in defending conservation laws and rules. Police are the most widespread and tradition law enforcement authorities; a lot of the research focused on enforcement in conservation crime involve understanding police recruitment, retention, leadership, and sometimes corruption. Police and other law enforcement officers have and will continue to play a key role in successful conservation. There is a growing body of research about how law enforcement authorities can collaborate with private or parastatal partners on resource sharing. Or, how local guardians may more directly engage local community members in patrolling.
The idea of community-based policing marries community-based conservation with policing. It is growing in popularity in many instances because local communities may support police through reporting, disrupt crime event in progress, prevent crime from occurring at all, and build social cohesion to respond to conflict constellations that ultimately help limit securitization.
Although the institution of policing really hasn’t been explored in depth within the conservation context, there is increasing media coverage of all female ranger teams apparently operating with great efficacy. Additional research is needed in this space, as well as to enhance understanding about how community-based police, and traditional law enforcement authorities, perceive they should intervene for various conservation crimes.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of Congo
Conservation crimes are often motivated by economic factors.
The demand side of the illegal natural resource supply chain can be a huge driving force for criminality. Wildlife may be trafficked for traditional medicine or exotic pets, plants may be trafficked for unique landscapes, and timber trafficked for intricate furniture. Importantly, economic factors, such as alternative livelihoods or sustainable use, can be part of the solution for some conservation crimes.
Demand for wildlife can also be driven by culture, tradition, civil resistance, boredom and frustration, and religion. Ultimately, all drivers of demand should be considered to reduce risks from conservation crime.
Demand reduction using social marketing, risk communication, or campaigns have been implemented in many demand markets. Sometimes demand is particularly great in cities or urban hubs, where more reliable transportation and communication (via mobile phone or social media) enable novel connections between source locations and demand markets. These connections suggest disciplines such as supply chain management and operations research have a lot to offer in terms of understanding the dynamic nature of illicit supply chains.
Markets for natural resources can be regulated, and thus are often deemed to be illegal. Commercial bans on trade, such as China and the U.S.’s 2018 ban on commercial ivory, also involve diplomatic coordination and evidence-based decision making.
Compliance and non compliance behaviors are extremely important to conservation crime.
A scientific understanding of human behavior associated with conservation crime is fundamental for designing effective policies and programs. Different groups of people comply or do not comply with conservation rules and laws for different reasons. The more we understand motivations, attitudes, perceptions, behavioral intentions and behaviors surrounding conservation crime, the more we can focus efforts to reduce risk. There are many different ways to example compliance with conservation rules.
Most individuals comply with laws and regulations out of deference to authority or belief that behavior prohibited by law is morally wrong. In other words, most people comply because they believe it is the right thing to do.
For others, violations result from unintentional acts due to lack of awareness or inability to comply with regulations. In other cases still, individuals are motivated to intentionally violate laws and regulations. Compliance is more likely to occur when there is awareness and understanding of the regulation or rule. Further, positive perceptions of the appropriateness of the behavioral restriction set by a rule (including agencies and agents related to the rule) reflect a high level of legitimacy and will usually lead to compliance. A high level of pro-compliance coercion, or presence of threat, generally leads to compliance, as long as the punishment is greater than the possible personal gain. Finally, the more any given rule is congruent with an individual’s self-interest, the more likely it is that individual will comply with the rule. Compliance has both internal and external considerations. External considerations include those influences that an individual cannot control himself/herself, but that another individual could change and manipulate. Internal considerations are influences which occur and are processed within the individual, such as thoughts, perceptions and feelings towards something or someone, which another actor cannot directly manipulate.
Compliance, and non compliance can be measured using a range of tools from the social sciences.
Interdisciplinary science carries with it a unique set of methodological challenges and opportunities.
Similarly, conducting policy-relevant science is distinct from strictly theoretical inquiry or bench science. Conservation criminology, for better or worse, carries with it all of these attributes.What are the implications of this? First, the methods that are employed to frame, analyze, and interpret research questions and hypotheses carry with them a larger burden of proof, in my opinion.
Can you justify the appropriateness of your decision to use a particular method to collect data? How do you justify using a particular theory to guide your approach for measuring variables and social phenomena the way you are?
The issue of ethics in conservation criminology is multifaceted. I think principles from indigenous criminology really reflect some of the root principles for conservation criminology to attend to. Essentially IndCrim argues that the failure to address issues of representation of Indigenous people in conversation about crime control systems rests in part with the paternalistic tendencies of settler-colonizer governments and the Eurocentric bias of many within mainstream criminology. Dominant explanations of the causes of this problem, and policies and interventions designed to alleviate it, tend to pathologize Indigenous people, presenting them as individuals prone to criminality, and their cultural knowledge, philosophies, and social practices as deviant and criminogenic. IndCrim mostly refers to the analytical and epistemological approach to examining relationships between indigenous peoples, criminal justice systems, and the criminological academy. It is based on historical and contemporary conditions, holds that Indigenous knowledge is vital for the purpose of gathering, analyzing and disseminating findings, and aims to speak truth to power.
How does conservation crime connect to other serious crimes?
Convergence, or overlap, of conservation crimes with other serious harms such as human trafficking, drug trafficking or small arms trafficking, is an issue of interest for many security sector actors. Does conservation crime converge with terrorism and terrorist threat financing? If conservation crimes do converge with other serious crimes, can efforts to reduce risks from conservation crimes serve as a force multiplier? Answers to these questions are nuanced and have huge implications for socio-environmental systems, particularly when policy and programs from serious crime control are applied to conservation spaces and stakeholders.
Convergence enables a large community of scientists to think broadly about societal problems as well as solutions.
Another way of thinking about convergence and conservation crime is the extent that legal supply chains are being exploited by illegal supply chains. Transportation methods or financial and informational flows used by legal businesses may be exploited by illegal actors, at cost to legal systems and rule-following individuals. Legal corporations and businesses of all sizes may be unknowingly exploited by illegal conservation crime actors, and may potentially be culpable for sanctions by law enforcement authorities if they do not take action to reduce such exploitation.
A third way of thinking about conservation crime convergence is to consider how the global problem connects with other social problems, such as zoonotic disease or invasive species spread. Plants are often trafficked with small amounts of soil, within which a range of invasive species may be unknowingly transmitted. Reptiles are often trafficked alive for pets, carrying with them zoonotic diseases that may have previously been confined to a smaller endemic area of the world. Serious diseases and pandemics, such as Ebola, may be unknowingly moved from animals to humans because of illegal natural resources trade.
How does security apply to natural resource use?
Like compliance and non-compliance, security is coupled with insecurity. Most of us are old enough to be aware of the contemporary emergence of security after 9/11. The idea has since been mobilized in a number of ways including: governing security, governing through security, selling security, imagining security and tackling insecurity.
In classical terms, security means the integrity of territoriality organized sovereign nation states within the system of international law as represented by the United National since the end of World War II. New, broader concepts promote thinking about security policy beyond the military capacity of nation states but also the ability to use political and socioeconomic crises that threaten to cross the threshold to violence and to do so as early as possible using non-military and if necessary, military means. The concepts explicitly includes interests in securing strategic resources which serve to safeguard affluence in the industrialized nations.
Political theory proposes three types of security: (1) security from threats such as enemies; (2) security, or access to, basic goods and rights; and (3) security of states of being, such as peace. The first type of security is most commonly diffused in our popular culture, but really, all three types are relevant to this course. Security is a concept that is closely aligned with concepts of power and power relations. It is interesting to think about how society chooses to respond to security, or rather, insecurity. Risk and fear factor into responses to insecurity, particularly the security architectures and technologies. In many ways there tends to be a top-down command and control approach to security, which can be at odds with the highly decentralized forms of community-based natural resources management that prosper in regions with rich biodiversity and conservation challenges. Top-down approaches often involve surveillance and security management by authorities with little evidence that the strategy actually works.