Identifying Salient Drivers of Livelihood Decision-Making in the Forest Communities of Cameroon: Adding Value to Social Simulation Models

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This paper describes a participatory and collaborative process for formalising qualitative data, using research from southeast Cameroon, how these results can provide input to an social simulation model, and what insights they can provide in better understanding decision-making in the region. Knowledge Elicitation Tools (KnETs) have been used to support a body of existing research on local strategies that build community adaptive capacity and support sustainable forest management under a range of socio-environmental and climatic stressors. The output of this approach is a set of decision rules which complements previous analysis of differentiated vulnerability of forest communities. Improvements to the KnETs methodology, such as new statistical measurements, make it easier to generate inputs for a social simulation model, such as agent attributes and heterogeneity, as well as informing which scenarios to prioritise during model development and testing. The KnETs process served as a vehicle to structure a large volume of empirical data, to identify the most salient drivers of decision-making amongst different actors, to uncover tacit knowledge and to make recommendations about which strategic interventions should be further explored in a social simulation and by local organizations planning interventions. It was notable that there were many common rule drivers for men and women from the same households, though they participated in the game-interviews separately. At the same time, though strategies were common to both poor and better-off farmers, differences lay in the package of strategies chosen - the number and type of strategies as well the drivers factors - and how they were prioritised with respect to each farmer's goal.

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