An agent-based model to support community forest management and non-timber forest product harvesting in northern Thailand


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participatory agent-based simulation
computer-assisted role-playing game
Companion Modelling (ComMod)
knowledge exchange

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Wimolsakcharoen, W., Dumrongrojwatthana, P., Le Page, C., Bousquet, F., & Trebuil, G. (2021). An agent-based model to support community forest management and non-timber forest product harvesting in northern Thailand. Socio-Environmental Systems Modelling, 3, 17894. (Original work published 2021)


Agent-based models are popular in common-pool resource management to represent complex systems and stimulate collective action and management, where they are used to evaluate scenarios of stakeholders' choice in participatory simulations. We developed the "CoComForest" (COllaborative COMmunity FOREST management) model to support community forest management (CFM) and non-timber forest product (NTFP) harvesting in Nan Province, northern Thailand. The model was used as a computer-based role-playing game to support sharing of perceptions and knowledge among stakeholders, and in participatory simulations to explore future CFM scenarios. The Unified Modelling Language was used to build the conceptual model, subsequently implemented under the CORMAS (COmmon-pool Resource and Multi-Agent System) simulation platform. Several tests were conducted in the laboratory for verification and calibration before using this tool with 21 diverse stakeholders during a field workshop. Three different participatory gaming and simulation sessions were organized. The first one focused on the co-validation of the model with participants. They accepted most of the model functionalities and the scheduling of the rounds of play. The model was used in the subsequent two sessions to simulate the scenarios of firebreak establishment and introduction of outsiders intensively harvesting NTFPs, respectively. The results showed that the intensive harvesting practices of outsiders accelerated the depletion of resources, whereas the prevention of wildfire by establishing firebreaks could increase the resource availability in the landscape. The debriefing session at the end of the workshop focused on the analysis of simulation results and the relationships between the players' decision-making and their actual circumstances. Individual in-depth interviews conducted after the workshop helped to evaluate the use of this model with local stakeholders. Most participants considered the model as a useful common representation of the system they manage collectively. Its use in participatory simulations facilitated communication among the stakeholders searching for an adapted and acceptable collective action plan to improve CFM at the sub-district level in order to prevent the overharvesting of NTFPs by outsiders.

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