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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Abel, Troy D.

Second Advisor

Rossiter, David A.

Third Advisor

Singleton, Sara (Sara G.)


This research focused on levels of trust, participation levels, and the emergence of polycentric governance among buffer zone community stakeholders in a case study of La Amistad International Park in Costa Rica and Panama. In this investigation, I combined a human geography of regions perspective with Common Pool Resource (CPR) theory to analyze the management structure of a bi-national park (a UNESCO Biosphere and World Heritage Site) and its progress toward the UNESCO Biosphere goals. These goals focus on socio-economic development for human well-being and educational and research opportunities addressing global to local issues related to integrated conservation and development. I analyzed the trust factor from Elinor Ostrom's resource user conditions and two of Ostrom's eight institutional arrangements for CPR success: (1) collective-choice arrangements and (2) multiple layers of governance. These elements lead to a clearer understanding of the current institutional arrangements in the park. I conducted an exploratory case study using a qualitative, mixed-methods approach consisting of semistructured interviews, questionnaires, and observation. This project showed how the global and local forces have produced the present structure of management with fortress conservation practices at varying degrees in the four regions. Additionally, this research demonstrated how the community member's trust in stakeholder and governmental conservation efforts drops with lower levels of collective action. There have been many international measures such as the Park in Perils Program and the UNESCO Biosphere with the idea of greater stakeholder involvement; however the efforts and results of these efforts vary greatly across the four regions with some success on the Pacific side of the park and little to none on the Atlantic side.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Protected areas--Parque Internacional La Amistad (Costa Rica and Panama)--Citizen participation; Parks--Management--International cooperation; Parque Internacional La Amistad (Costa Rica and Panama)

Geographic Coverage

Parque Internacional La Amistad (Costa Rica and Panama)




masters theses




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