The complex links between governance and biodiversity
We argue that two problems weaken the claims of those who link corruption and the exploitation of natural resources. The first is conceptual. Studies that use national level indicators of corruption fail to note that corruption comes in many forms, at multiple levels, and may or may not affect resource use. Without a clear causal model of the mechanism by which corruption affects resources, one should treat with caution any estimated relationship between corruption and the state of natural resources. The second problem is methodological: Simple models linking corruption measures and natural resource use typically do not account for other important causes and control variables pivotal to the relationship between humans and natural resources. By way of illustration of these two general concerns, we demonstrate that the findings of a well known recent study that posits a link between corruption and decreases in forests, elephants, and rhinoceros are fragile to simple conceptual and methodological refinements.
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