Understanding non-participation in local governance institutions in Indonesia

Miller, Adam; Ahmad, Abrar; Carmenta, Rachel; Zabala, Aiora; Muflihati; Kartikawati, Siti Masitoh; Damatashia, Putri; Sagita, Novia and Phelps, Jacob (2024). Understanding non-participation in local governance institutions in Indonesia. Biological Conservation, 294, article no. 110605.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2024.110605


Community-centered approaches are crucial and impactful strategies for the global climate and biodiversity crisis. However, these approaches hinge upon participation for both pragmatic and ethical reasons. While there is a growing body of research in this field, most studies focus on those who opt in to these community-based approaches. Research focuses on how interventions do or do not achieve the intended cross-sectoral outcomes that are flagship among these strategies. Few studies seek to understand the objective and subjective constraints of non-participants. We investigated why community members chose not to participate in a community-centered conservation approach in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. We used snowball saturation sampling and semi-structured interviews across nine villages, surveying both non-participants and key informants. Our results show that non-material factors such as time, lack of understanding, and feeling uninvited drove non-participation. Non-participants did not identify a lack of interest in program activities or services as a primary reason for opting out. Key informants suggested that participation could be improved with better outreach around objectives, potential benefits, and data feedback loops that quickly communicated results to community members. These results have implications for conservation strategies around the globe as findings suggest investing in non-material factors (e.g., improved messaging and considerations of time burdens) are significant constraints to participation. Payment for ecosystem services and carbon finance schemes often invest considerable time and money in incentivizing participation with material benefits, and our results suggest a more significant consideration should be placed on time requirements, messaging/outreach, adaptive feedback loops, and democratizing data ownership.

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