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The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021919/00001

Material Information

Title: The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Effects of Communication Processes on Perceptions of Key Stakeholders and the Public about Natural Areas
Physical Description: 1 online resource (124 p.)
Language: english
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: areas, biological, communication, conservation, corridors, diffusion, knowledge, mesoamerica, perceptions, policies, protected, trifinio
Interdisciplinary Ecology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Interdisciplinary Ecology thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Mesoamerica is a global biodiversity hotspot. However, socio-economic development processes have led to fragmentation and degradation of natural areas, becoming a major threat to Mesoamerican biodiversity. The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project (MBCP) promoted biological corridors between protected areas to reduce the effects of fragmentation. The project used several diffusion channels advocating the concepts of protected areas, biological corridors, sustainable development and biodiversity-friendly land use practices. Based on the theory of diffusion of innovations, I analyzed how different communication channels affected the diffusion of MBCP concepts among the general public and relevant stakeholders. I conducted face-to-face surveys of a random sample of 600 residents of Trifinio, an area of conservation priority within Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. I compared results to a similar survey conducted five years earlier. Local awareness of MBCP decreased from 8% in 2001 to 2% by 2006 (Chi-sq=21, p < 0.01). Mean public knowledge of MBCP concepts was low but increased 4% between 2001 and 2006 (t-test=5.6, p < 0.01). In 2006, knowledge increased 20% between respondents who had heard about MBCP and those who had not (Mann-Whitney U=1422, p < 0.01). The most frequently cited sources of MBCP information were television (28%) and posters (47%) in 2001, and television (43%) and workshops (29%) (Fisher's p < 0.01). I also conducted a qualitative analysis of 98 semi-structured interviews with journalists, politicians and land users, selected from a non-random sample among stakeholder groups of San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, Guatemala City and Trifinio communities. Respondents exposed to interpersonal and mass media channels showed more knowledge of MBCP concepts than those exposed to one type of channel only, but most preferred interpersonal channels as a source of project information. Leaders of national groups had more knowledge and more of them reported behaviors favoring MBCP implementation, but more local leaders engaged in land-use practices directly favoring biological connectivity. A bottom-up project-design approach, intensifying the use of interpersonal channels at the local level, could have engaged more people in land-use practice behaviors advancing the implementation of biological corridors in the field. These could have served as demonstrative examples to advance the diffusion of MBCP concepts among the public and relevant stakeholders.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Jacobson, Susan K.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2010-05-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0021919:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021919/00001

Material Information

Title: The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Effects of Communication Processes on Perceptions of Key Stakeholders and the Public about Natural Areas
Physical Description: 1 online resource (124 p.)
Language: english
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: areas, biological, communication, conservation, corridors, diffusion, knowledge, mesoamerica, perceptions, policies, protected, trifinio
Interdisciplinary Ecology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Interdisciplinary Ecology thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Mesoamerica is a global biodiversity hotspot. However, socio-economic development processes have led to fragmentation and degradation of natural areas, becoming a major threat to Mesoamerican biodiversity. The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project (MBCP) promoted biological corridors between protected areas to reduce the effects of fragmentation. The project used several diffusion channels advocating the concepts of protected areas, biological corridors, sustainable development and biodiversity-friendly land use practices. Based on the theory of diffusion of innovations, I analyzed how different communication channels affected the diffusion of MBCP concepts among the general public and relevant stakeholders. I conducted face-to-face surveys of a random sample of 600 residents of Trifinio, an area of conservation priority within Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. I compared results to a similar survey conducted five years earlier. Local awareness of MBCP decreased from 8% in 2001 to 2% by 2006 (Chi-sq=21, p < 0.01). Mean public knowledge of MBCP concepts was low but increased 4% between 2001 and 2006 (t-test=5.6, p < 0.01). In 2006, knowledge increased 20% between respondents who had heard about MBCP and those who had not (Mann-Whitney U=1422, p < 0.01). The most frequently cited sources of MBCP information were television (28%) and posters (47%) in 2001, and television (43%) and workshops (29%) (Fisher's p < 0.01). I also conducted a qualitative analysis of 98 semi-structured interviews with journalists, politicians and land users, selected from a non-random sample among stakeholder groups of San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, Guatemala City and Trifinio communities. Respondents exposed to interpersonal and mass media channels showed more knowledge of MBCP concepts than those exposed to one type of channel only, but most preferred interpersonal channels as a source of project information. Leaders of national groups had more knowledge and more of them reported behaviors favoring MBCP implementation, but more local leaders engaged in land-use practices directly favoring biological connectivity. A bottom-up project-design approach, intensifying the use of interpersonal channels at the local level, could have engaged more people in land-use practice behaviors advancing the implementation of biological corridors in the field. These could have served as demonstrative examples to advance the diffusion of MBCP concepts among the public and relevant stakeholders.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Jacobson, Susan K.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2010-05-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0021919:00001


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1 THE MESOAMERICAN BIOLOGICAL CORRIDOR: EFFECTS OF COMMUNICATION PROCESSES ON PERCEPTIONS OF KEY STAKEHOLDERS AND THE PUBLIC ABOUT NATURAL AREAS By LUIS ANTONIO RAMOS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008

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2 2008 Luis Antonio Ramos

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3 To the two Suns of my galaxy and the Launiverse where we graciously float A los dos Soles de mi galaxia y el Launiverso donde amorosamente flotamos

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank Laura Ines, Sol Andrs, Sol Antonio, Carmencita and Paco, my parents, Abue Graciela, an d Jos Luis for their unconditional suppor t. I also thank my advisor Susan Jacobson, for her prompt advice and support; my commit tee members Glenn Israel, Robert Buschbacher, Tom Ankersen and Janaki Alavalapati for their constructive comments; the Compton Foundation, the UF Program for Studies in Tropi cal Conservation, the UF Tropical Conservation and Development Program and the School of Na tural Resources and Environment for their financial support. I thank the following friends a nd colleagues for their invaluable help in the field: Jos Roberto Cabezas, Sonia Suazo, Ondina Paz, Juan Carlos Montufar and all the personnel of Plan Trifinio, Amy Diaz, Jaime Mora les, Marina Cabezas, Carlos and Mara del Carmen Valle and family, Zulma de Mendoza, Carlos Lopez and Mario Barahona. Lastly, I thank all respondents that pr ovided their valuable time a nd comments during interviews.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........7LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................................8LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS.......................................................................................................... 9ABSTRACT...................................................................................................................................10CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................12Mesoamerican Biological Corridor........................................................................................ 15MBCPs Communication Strategy.........................................................................................19Literature Review.............................................................................................................. .....25Research of Communication Channe ls in Diffusion of Innovations...................................... 32Research Objectives............................................................................................................ ....352 EVALUATION OF THE COMMUNICATION STRATEGY OF THE MESOAMER ICAN BIOLOGICAL CORRIDOR PROJECT: EFFECTS ON PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTIONS..................................................................................36Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........36MBCP Communication Strategy..................................................................................... 41Research Objectives........................................................................................................ 43Methods..................................................................................................................................44Study Site..................................................................................................................... ....44Survey Design and Analysis............................................................................................ 44Semi-Structured Interviews............................................................................................. 48Results.....................................................................................................................................48Public Surveys.................................................................................................................48Knowledge of MBCP Concepts...................................................................................... 50Perceptions of MBCP Concepts...................................................................................... 51Differences between Respondents Exposed to MBCP.................................................... 54Effects of Sociodemographic Traits................................................................................ 55Effects of Communication Channels............................................................................... 56Journalists Semi-Structured Interviews........................................................................... 58Discussion...............................................................................................................................63Limitations of Study........................................................................................................... ....68Conclusions and Recommendations.......................................................................................68

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6 3 DIFFUSON OF CONCEPTS OF THE MESOAMERICAN BIOLOGICAL CORRIDOR PROJECT AMONG KEY ME MB ERS OF STAKEHOLDER GROUPS....... 72Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........72The MBCP Communication Strategy.............................................................................. 74Theoretical Framework................................................................................................... 75Study Hypotheses............................................................................................................77Methods..................................................................................................................................78Study Site..................................................................................................................... ....78Stakeholder Analysis....................................................................................................... 79Results.....................................................................................................................................81Socio-Demographic Character istics of Respondents...................................................... 81Knowledge of MBCP Concepts...................................................................................... 83Perceptions and Attitudes toward MBCP Concepts........................................................84Associations between Communication Channels, Knowledge and Opinions................. 88Reported Behaviors Favoring MBCP..............................................................................89Document Review........................................................................................................... 90Discussion...............................................................................................................................92Limitations of Study........................................................................................................... ....96Conclusions and Recommendations.......................................................................................974 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................................................................. 99APPENDIX A ENVIRONMENTAL, AGRICULTURE A ND FORESTRY BEST MANAGEME NT PRACTICE PROGRAMS IN EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA OR HONDURAS......... 103B KEY INFORMANTS SEMI-STRUCTURE D IN TERVIEWS GUIDE QUESTIONS.......105C LIST OF LAND-USER ASSOCIATIONS AND GOVERN MENT INSTITUTIONS APPROACHED BY THE STUDY......................................................................................107LIST OF REFERENCES.............................................................................................................108BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................124

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7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1-1. Sample of research on diffusion of innovation (DoI) conduc ted between 1992 and 2005 categorized by field a nd research topic.............................................................................. 30 2-1. Survey Items..........................................................................................................................46 2-2. Socio-economic index used in 2006 MBCP survey.............................................................. 49 2-3 Sociodemographic characteristics of 2001 and 2006 respondents.........................................50 2-4. Comparison of knowledge items between 2001 and 2006 respondents................................51 2-5. Comparison of opinion and channels of communication items between 2001 and 2006 respondents........................................................................................................................52 2-6. Comparison of statistically significant results of su rvey items from respondents exposed to MBCP between 2001 and 2006 (p<0.05)........................................................ 55 2-7. Logistic regression analysis of factors affecting respondents mean MBCP knowledge...... 58 2-8. Journalist demographic characteristics (frequencies)............................................................59 3-1. Socio-demographic data of respondents................................................................................ 82 3-2. Knowledge of MBCP concepts by stakeholder group and location...................................... 83 3-3. Reported MBCPs concepts by location................................................................................ 84 3-4. Sources of information by stakeholder group and location...................................................88 3-5. Associations between MBCP knowledge and communication channels..............................89 3-6. Self-reported behaviors after knowing about MBCP............................................................ 90

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8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1-1 Logic model for MBCP communication component............................................................. 21 1-2. Logic model of MBCP s communication strategy................................................................ 23 2-1. Rate of adoption, type of adopters and stages in diffusion of innovations theory................ 39 2-2. MBCP communication strategy.............................................................................................43 2-3. 2001 and 2006 Percentages of reported channels as local, national and MBCP sources of information....................................................................................................................57 2-4. Number of MBCP written press public ations between years 2000 and 2007 by country..... 60 2-5. MBCP information sources reported by journalists.............................................................. 61 2-6. Number of mass media pr oducts that mentioned the Meso american Biological Corridor and its concepts, published between 2000 and 2006......................................................... 63 3-1. Reported sources of MBCP inform ation throughout the life of the project......................... 86

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9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CCAD Central American Comm ission of Environment and Development [Comisin Centroamericana de Ambiente y Desarrollo] OTS/OET Organization for Tropical Studies /Organizacin de Estudios Tropicales MBC Mesoamerican Biologi cal Corridor Initiative MBCP Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project WSC Wildlife Conservation Society WWF Worldwide Fund for Nature

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10 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE MESOAMERICAN BIOLOGICAL CORRIDOR: EFFECTS OF COMMUNICATION PROCESSES ON PERCEPTIONS OF KEY STAKEHOLDERS AND THE PUBLIC ABOUT NATURAL AREAS By Luis Antonio Ramos May 2008 Chair: Susan K. Jacobson Major: Interdisciplinary Ecology Mesoamerica is a global biodiversity hotspot However, socio-economic development processes have led to fragmentation and degradation of natural areas, becoming a major threat to Mesoamerican biodiversity. The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project (MBCP) promoted biological corridors between protec ted areas to reduce the effects of fragmentation. The project used several diffusion channels advocating the co ncepts of protected areas, biological corridors, sustainable development and biod iversity-friendly land use practi ces. Based on the theory of diffusion of innovations, I analyzed how different communication ch annels affected the diffusion of MBCP concepts among the general public and re levant stakeholders. I conducted face-to-face surveys of a random sample of 600 residents of Trifinio, an area of conservation priority within Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. I compared results to a similar survey conducted five years earlier. Local awareness of MBCP decreased from 8% in 2001 to 2% by 2006 (X2=21, p<0.01). Mean public knowledge of MBCP con cepts was low but increased 4% between 2001 and 2006 (t test=5.6, p<0.01). In 2006, knowledge increased 20% between respondents who had heard about MBCP and those who had not (Mann-Whitney U=1422, p<0.01). The most frequently cited sources of M BCP information were television (28%) and posters (47%) in 2001,

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11 and television (43%) and workshops (29%) (Fis hers p<0.01). I also conducted a qualitative analysis of 98 semi-structured in terviews with journalists, poli ticians and land users, selected from a non-random sample among stakeholder groups of San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, Guatemala City and Trifinio communities. Respondents expos ed to interpersonal an d mass media channels showed more knowledge of MBCP concepts than those exposed to one type of channel only, but most preferred interpersonal channels as a sour ce of project informati on. Leaders of national groups had more knowledge and more of them reported behaviors favoring MBCP implementation, but more local leaders engaged in land-use practices directly favoring biological connectivity. A bottom-up project-design approa ch, intensifying the use of interpersonal channels at the local level, could have engaged more people in land-use practice behaviors advancing the implementation of biological corridor s in the field. These could have served as demonstrative examples to advance the diffu sion of MBCP concepts among the public and relevant stakeholders.

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12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Biodiversity and development are inextricably linked, particularly in developing countries (Seely et al. 2003). The concepts of biodiversity and sustainab ility have been introduced to em ergent countries' development agendas in the past couple of decades, and specifically after the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, these concepts do not appear to be ad opted by enough individuals or organizations to provoke noticeable changes in local development processes yet. Environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and natural hab itat reduction and fragmentation ar e still current issues in the developing world (Houghton et al. 1991, UNEP 2004). The notion of biological corridors to lessen ecosystem fragmentation is also a re latively new approach in conservation biology, beginning to appear in resear ch journals in the early 1980s (Noss 1983, Rosenberg et al. 1997, Bennett 2004) Frequently, people at national, multinational or global decision-making levels design natural resource and conservation projects from a top-down approach (Glendinning et al. 2001). These levels generally are different from thos e where local changes are expected (Ramrez & Quarry 2004, Duffy 2005). However, due to the co mplexity of activities to address relationships among the different stakeholders levels (f unding and implementing organizations and beneficiaries), projects find difficulty conducting in-depth eval uations of local impacts (GAO 2002, Rossi et al. 2004). The concept of biological connectivity betw een natural areas wa s introduced in the agendas of conservation efforts in Mesoameri ca by the Wildlife Conser vation Society in the early 1990s with the Paseo Pantera Project (Coa tes 2003), which evolved into the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor initi ative (MBC). The MBC is now a governmental program of Central

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13 American nations and Mexico that attempts to protect the rich but th reatened Mesoamerican biodiversity by promoting the de velopment of biological corri dors to interconnect natural protected areas along Mesoamerica. The MBC is an approach to reach regional sustainable development through the conservation and linkage of natural protected areas (PCCBM 2004). Mesoamerican governments conducted a project with the goal of establishing a long-term regional MBC implementation program through cap acity building, education and diffusion of key conservation and development concepts. One of the main objectives of the MBC project (MBCP) is to have an impact on local knowledg e and perceptions about land use and natural areas throughout Mesoamerica (UNDP 1999). Trifinio is one of the MBC priority areas. The borders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador meet precisely at the heart of the ar ea at the top of Montecristo Mastiff, which is enclosed by one of the remaining cloud forests in Mesoamerica. Montecristo is essential to the hydrological cycle that provides water to the lowlands dry subt ropical forest during the sixmonth seasonal drought. These ecosystems, and others, are used by wildlife in their seasonal local migrations (Janzen 1983). Unguided deve lopment and local residents dependence on natural resources are major th reats to these unique ecosy stems and to the supply of environmental goods and services they provide to Trifinio inhabitants. These characteristics made Trifinio a priority area for conservati on and sustainable development where biological corridors made sense. MBCP introduced biologic al connectivity concepts to this and 10 more priority areas in Mesoamerica. The three countries that shared Trifinio are historically, geographically, politically, ecol ogically and socio-economically more homogeneous than any other set of Mesoamerican nations (PerezBrignoli 1989, Coates 2003). This homogeneity makes Trifinio an interesting site to evalua te the local impacts of a regionally planned

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14 conservation program. The segments that form Trifinio share an even stronger socioeconomic and ecological homogeneity than the countries they belong, yet are ruled by different governments and are affected by differ ent programs, in addition to MBCP. There are numerous examples of conservati on programs trying to modify peoples attitudes and behavior toward natural resources in develo ping and developed countries. Several authors have stressed the importance of creative means of communication and diffusion of key concepts to influence perceptions, attitudes and beha viors toward conservation and sustainable development issues (McKenzie-Mohr & Smith 1999, Jacobson 1999, Glendinning et al. 2001, Ramrez & Quarry 2004). However, the impact s of communication effort s have seldom been critically evaluated (G lendinning et al. 2001). Natural resour ces communication efforts need to be based on research to compleme nt any development activity; yet, communication initiatives in support of environmental and natural resource s management have mainly focused on the dissemination and adoption of tec hnical packages showing limite d impacts (Ramrez and Quarry 2004). The theory of Diffusion of Innovations (Do I) has been used extensively in research by many different fields to evaluate the process of changes in att itudes and behavior toward a new idea or technology (Wolf 1994, Nutley et al. 200 2, Hubbard & Hayashi 2003, Rogers 2003). DoI has been particularly utilized to study the effects of communi cation on the innovation adoption process (Lin & Burt 1975, Nilakant a & Scamell 1990, Fichman 1992, Warriner & Moul 1992, Rai 1995, Heong et al. 1998, White & Jacobs 1998, Shao 1999, Hubbard & Hayashi 2003, Hubbard & Mulvey 2003, Godes & Ma yzlin 2004). This theory has been often applied to study the diffusion of new agricultural t echnology (Reece 2003, Heong et al. 1998) and environmentally sound agricultural concepts (Warriner & Moul 1992, Coughenour 2003, Feder & Savastano 2004, Walters et al. 200 5). Nevertheless, it has been seldom used to assess the

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15 diffusion of new approaches in conservation of biodiversity and natural areas management (Ira 2001, Jacobson et al. 2003). The funding organization, UNDP, conducted a su mmative evaluation of the MBCP after the project was finished. The evaluati on focused on outputs and budget (PCCBM 2007). However, assessment of impacts at different geopolitical levels was not conducted. This represented an opportunity to evaluate the diffu sion of conservation and sustainable development concepts and to determine the effects of different channels of communication on knowledge, perceptions and policies. This dissertation evaluated the impacts of the MBCP communication strategy on the diffusion process among the public and stakeholde rs. Chapter 1 offers an introduction to Mesoamerican Biological Corridor initiative, a review of the literatu re about diffusion of innovations research and my res earch objectives. Chapter 2 pr esents the evaluation of the impacts of the MBCP communication strategy on the publics knowledge and perceptions, and on the publication of MBCP mass media products Chapter 3 conveys the assessment of MBCPs diffusion process among members of re levant stakeholders. Finally, chapter 4 summarizes conclusions and recommendations drawn from all research results. Mesoamerican Biological Corridor In todays world of political alliances and globalization, Mesoam erica is the name used to identify the seven Central Am erican countries (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize) and the tr opical Mexican region. Myers et al. (2000) recognized this region as one of the 25 biodivers ity hotspots in the world due to its species richness and high numbers of endemic species. Mesoamerica represents approximately 0.5% of the planets territory, yet it is believed to contain 7% of the known global biodiversity (UNDP 1999, UICN 2000, Miller et al. 2001). Biogeographers recognize a la rge diversity of ecosystems

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16 represented by 22 distinct ecoregions occurring in this small territory of 768,990 Km2, ranging from coral reefs and lowland rainforests to pine savannas, semi-arid w oodlands, grasslands, high mountain forests, and paramo (UICN 2000, Mill er et al. 2001, PCCBM 2002a, Coates 2003) The Mesoamerican countries share many attribut es facilitating recognition of the region as an ecogeographical unit. Some of these character istics related to biodive rsity conservation are: (1) all countries together are considered an important biodiver sity rich area in the world (UNDP 1999, Myers et al. 2000) (2) deforestation and hab itat fragmentation is widely spread throughout the region (Houghton et al. 1991, Myers et al. 2000, CCAD 2003a, CCAD 2003b, Coates 2003, Donald 2004), and (3) important remnants of natural ecosystems cross countries boundaries (CCAD 1992, Garcia 1996, UNDP 1999). There is a shared understanding among Mesoam erican politicians that Mesoamerican countries have a better opportunity of overc oming their environmenta l and other problems working as a consolidated region than as i ndividual nations (CCAD 2003a). Historically, Central American countries have made many atte mpts to organize as a consolidated nation or region since their independence from Spain in 1821 (Perez-Brignoli 1989). A regional initiative to conserve and use Mesoamerican biodiversity in a sustainabl e manner has evolved during the past 2 decades: the MBC. During the early 1990s, the Wildlife Conservation Society proposed the creation of an extended biological corridor interconnecting the largest natural areas in Central America as a way to confront regional biodive rsity loss due to habitat fragmentation, recognized as a major threat to the region (Coates 2003,). After many years of lobbying fo r this proposal to the Central American and Mexican governments, they adop ted this new idea under the name MBC (Garca 1996), as an approach to achieve sustainable development (Miller et al. 2001). It triggered the

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17 participation of national and inte rnational organizations in mappi ng projects proposing routes for national biological corridors and lobbying for the idea of a multi-n ation integrating project. Due to the international awareness toward biodiversity conservation and sustainable development that the World Summit of 1992 brought (UNEP 2002), Mesoamerican governments responded by creating their Government Environm ental Agencies or elevating the existing ones to a higher hierarchical decision-making level within government structures. In 1990 the Central American Commission for Envir onment and Development (CCAD)1 was established as one of the first multi-governmental organizations in a regi onal effort to consolidat e the region as a block of countries to face globaliza tion (Ankersen 1994). Non-government organizations (NGOs) also bloomed in Mesoamerica during this decade. With this new set of government and non-government organizations, an influx of international support for biodive rsity conservation and sustaina ble development arose in the region. The interest of Central American nations to work as a region caught the attention of international funding agencies. Organizations such as World Bank (WB), Global Environmental Facility (GEF), United Nations Development (UNDP) and Environmental (UNEP) Programs, United States Agency for International Develo pment (USAID), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC ), among others, have supported several environmental and community development program s and projects at different geographical and organizational scales: community, national and multinational government projects. Some of these organizations have invested very large amounts of funds (Guzman et al. 2003) seeking changes in knowledge levels, perceptions and attitudes toward environmental issues and behavioral changes in sustainable development processes. 1 CCAD is the forum of Environmental Ministries of Centra l America, in which Mexico participates as a permanent observer. http://www.sgsica.org http://www.ccad.ws/an tecedentes.html

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18 The Presidents of the Central American Republics and Mexico, at their XIX Summit in Panama City in 1997, agreed to politically support the MBC initiative (UNDP 1999). The Presidents defined the MBC as follows: a land-use-planning system for organizing the territory into natural areas under special management, core zones, buffer zones, multiple -use zones and areas of interconnection, organized and consolidated to provide a gr oup of environmental goods and services to Central American and world societies, pr oviding opportunities for social agreement to promote investment in conservation and sustainable use of natu ral resources, all with the end of improving the quality of life for the regions inhabitants. (UNDP 1999) The MBC considered the region s biological richness an im portant element to achieve sustainable development, and recognized th e extended fragmentation of Mesoamerican ecosystems as the mayor cause of the regions biodiversity decline. Thus, MBC proposed to connect protected areas through bi ological corridors by promoting conservation of non-protected ecosystem patches, environmentally sound productive activities such as forestry, timber production, agroforestry, best management agriculture practices, and ecotourism as a way to conserve biodiversity and pursu e sustainable development. The MBC linked conservation and sustainabl e development, attracting considerable amounts of resources (CCAD 2003a, Fuentes et al. 2003). By December 2002, the World Bank claimed they had invested U.S. $400 million in proj ects directly related to the MBC, and U.S. $1.8 billion indirectly (Guzman et al. 2003). In 1999, Mesoamerican governments obtained U.S. $12.3 million from the Global Environmental F acility (GEF) and the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ) to conduct a projec t to establish a multi-nationally integrated program for the consolidation of the MBC. Mesoamerican governments complemented the investment with U.S. $4.5 million in kind (UNDP 1999) and commanded CCAD to implement the project Establishment of a Program for th e Consolidation of the MBC, between 2000 and 2006.

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19 While the overall goal of the MBC initiative is to consolidate a network of biological corridors interconnecting Mesoamerican protected areas, the proj ects general objective was to establish the bases for a long-term regional MB C program by providing in formation and training to governments and other relevant stakeholders (UNDP 1999). The specific objectives of the MBCP were (PCCBM 2004): 1. Compatibility of management policie s and instruments across countries. 2. Establishment of a biodiversity information and monitoring system. 3. Development of alternative strategies for fi nancing conservation in protected areas and biological corridors. 4. Diffusion and outreach of MBC initiative and the Projects concepts, progress and achievements. 5. Development of national and regional institutional capacities. MBCPs Communication Strategy Diffusion of key concepts was one of the ma in objectives of MBCP. These concepts were the: role of natural protecte d areas in development; importance of biological connectivity among natural areas to enhance envir onmental services; sustainable us e of biodiversity; and use of biofriendly land-use practices to develop biological corridors. These concepts were specific elements of an umbrella notion of land use pl anning of a territory which main purpose would be to provide environmental goods and services. M BCP assumed that there was little awareness of such concepts and favorable perception to ward them was low (Ramrez 2005, communication specialist of MBCP, personal communication). A specific expected outcome of the project was to increase public knowledge and raise consciou sness of the need for interconnected natural areas. Since the diffusion of such concepts among a population over 30 million was beyond available resources, MBCP selected to propaga te these concepts by training a network of

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20 information opinion leaders that would spread the information among the general public and relevant stakeholders. MBCP al so used mass media channels, such as television and radio spots and programs, and pamphlet dissemination. Groups of organized stakeholders were addressed directly through workshops and seminars. In 20 01, the MBCP conducted a survey to establish a knowledge and perception baseline in each country (Ramrez 2004, PCCBM 2002b). A survey was conducted by personal interviews of 500 res pondents per country, 200 in each capital city and 300 in rural communities of at least one prior ity area in each country. These priority areas were pre-established by Central American governments in the Convention on Biodiversity Conservation and Protection of Priority W ild Areas in Central American (CCAD 1992)2. From this survey and the MBCP objectiv es, a communication strategy was developed (Ramrez 2004 unpublished, PCCBM 2002b). The project used different activities to diffuse its main concepts and increase the understanding of MBC among the general public and specific stakeholders groups. Since one of the objec tive was to develop capacities among relevant stakeholders (UNDP 1999), some of the groups were specifically addressed, such as legislators and government agents, land users (farmers, fore sters, and cattle-ranchers), tourism industry, non-government organizations (NGOs), environmenta l journalists, and local communities within priority areas. I schematized this ge neral communication stra tegy in Figure 1-1. 2 Criteria for these conservation prior ity areas included sharing natural ec osystems by two or more countries, ecosystems limits extended over geopolitical borders, and existence of protected areas within the ecosystems.

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21 PROBLEM Little awareness of ecosystem fragmentation in Mesoamerica and role of biodiversity in sustainable development ACTIVITIES1-Production of diffusion material 2-Knowledge and perceptions baseline survey (2001) 3-Workshops with Mesoamerican environmental mass media journalists. 4-Workshops and seminars with regional and local stakeholders 5-Electronic bulletin and Web page to make MBC material available on line. OUTPUT1-Public dissemination events of MBC concepts by regional and national mass media (TV, radio, press) 2-Relevant stakeholder groups participated in workshops and seminars OUTCOMEChanges in knowledge and perceptions toward MBC concepts by general public and stakeholders PROBLEM Little awareness of ecosystem fragmentation in Mesoamerica and role of biodiversity in sustainable development ACTIVITIES1-Production of diffusion material 2-Knowledge and perceptions baseline survey (2001) 3-Workshops with Mesoamerican environmental mass media journalists. 4-Workshops and seminars with regional and local stakeholders 5-Electronic bulletin and Web page to make MBC material available on line. OUTPUT1-Public dissemination events of MBC concepts by regional and national mass media (TV, radio, press) 2-Relevant stakeholder groups participated in workshops and seminars OUTCOMEChanges in knowledge and perceptions toward MBC concepts by general public and stakeholders Figure 1-1 Logic model for MBCP communication component Program evaluators suggest the construction of logic models to depict programs theory as a sequence of steps from programs inputs or services to expected re sults (Rossi et al. 2004, GAO 2002, Israel 2001). Logic models are expressed as diagrams that show the major components of a program in logic sequence in cluding external factor s that could affect programs objectives (Israel 2001). The MBCP involved a set of diverse stakeholders that include international funding orga nizations, governments, and differe nt sectors of society from which complex relationships and demanding expectations arose. The project rationale was abundantly expressed in the Project Document ( UNDP 1999). Objectives, activities and outcomes were mentioned in a generalized fash ion, and in a few instances with concrete expectations. The inputs of the communication component of the MBCP started with its coordinator who was a communication specialist with ample expe rience in natural resources and environment fields. She coordinated all MBCP communication processes su ch as designing communication materials, 2001 baseline opinion survey, M BC communication strategy, and coordination of

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22 other partners communication activi ties. These are input elements in a logic model for MBCP. Printed materials were considered output indi cators of MBCP to be used by a follow-up MBC program (UNDP 1999). However, materials are ge nerally considered in puts in evaluation of programs impacts (GAO 2002). Ot her outputs were the number of workshops and informative meetings, attendance at such events, participatio n of different media repr esentatives (TV, radio and written press), participation of representatives from differen t stakeholder groups and degree of representativeness of those stakeholder leaders. MBCP staff subsequently reform ulated the projects strategic plan twice in the projects life as a consequence of adaptive management exer cises. These modifications were revised and authorized by the Steering Committee and the pa nel of Environmental Ministers; therefore, stakeholders related to project implementation agreed on such adjustments. The spirit and expected outcomes of MBCP were maintained and in some cases, outputs were described in more detail than in the original project document. The following are a compilation of the projects expected outcomes related to the communication component (PCCBM 2002c): 1. Increase in the level of public awareness of the value of goods and services provided by forests and protected areas. A 10% increm ent is expected comp ared to the 2001 opinion survey. 2. 200 Journalists and communicators educated on global and regional environmental issues. 3. 150 dissemination actions in mass media in the 8 countries of the region to increase the knowledge of the public, decision-makers and other involved actors. 4. A study based on IUCNs work and other information-gathering initiatives, on the status and management capacity of protected areas in Mesoamerica edited, published and distributed. 5. An updated study on the biodiversity conserva tion status in Mesoamerica published and distributed. 6. A system of ecological classi fication for Mesoamerica prep ared, published and in use. 7. A summary about the existing bi odiversity in the region, with a brief version for public dissemination prepared and published.

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23 8. A regional study to show the economic value of environmental services from the forests and protected areas prepared and published. These outcomes mentioned quantifiable items, but are still general because they do not take into account the distribution among the Mesoamerican countries. Although contextual differences among countries we re recognized in the planni ng documents reviewed, no differentiation of expected outcomes per nation wa s expressed. Based on their reported inputs, outputs, and outcomes, I conceptualized a logi c model for the communication component of the MBCP, shown in Figure 1-2. I adopted this logi c model from similar ones applied to program evaluation (GAO 2002), commonly used by United Na tion agencies to plan and evaluate their programs (UNDP 2002). Figure 1-2. Logic model of M BCPs communication strategy

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24 In these models, inputs are the specific products or serv ices produced by programs, and outcomes are the expected results accomplishe d among program participants from program intervention. Achievement of outcomes can happen at different times after program intervention; generally, short and mid-term outcomes are rela ted to changes among individuals, while impacts are associated to organizational or commun ity changes (Kellogg Foundation 2004). Impacts are long-term expected outcomes in which programs results are considered essential, but not necessarily the sole factor intervening to reach them (Rossi et al. 2004, UWA 1996). MBCP had two main target populations. The first were audiences of MBCP workshops and informative meetings, such as environmental journalists and representatives of stakeholders groups. The second target populatio n was the general public. The short-term expected outcome was an increase in knowledge and favorable pe rception about MBC concepts among journalists and stakeholder representatives. An expected mid-term indicator of changes in journalists was the vol untary production of MBC material for their corresponding media. Once reproduced, this material would reinforce changes in the general public knowledge and per ceptions of MBC concepts as another mid-term outcome. A third mid-term expected outcome was the incorporation of MBC concepts in local and national governmental policies, as well as in st atutes and operational guidelines (which could be tacit or documented) of stakeholders asso ciations, such as adop tion of farming best management practices, agroforestry and certifie d forestry, among others. The long-term final outcome is the actual formation of functional bi ological corridors from land use changes. However, this was beyond th e reach of MBCP activities. In order to evaluate adequately the local impacts of the MBCP communication component, confounding and contextual factors that could lead to similar out comes must be identified and

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25 considered in an impact evaluation process (R ossi et al. 2004). While it can be reasonably assumed that the concept of biological conne ctivity was systematically introduced in Mesoamerica by MBCP, the adoption of environmen tally friendly land uses has been promoted by many other programs in the region during the past 15 years to date. The area of Trifinio in particular has had the influence of several national and multi-national programs promoting environmental management practi ces in agriculture (Appendix A). The socio-economical attributes of each MBCP priority area also may have contributed to expected impacts and, therefore, need to be identified as well. Trifinio characteristics of deforestation, poverty, dependence of local econo my on agriculture and tourism could affect peoples perception of land use changes to overcome socio-economic problems or their intentions to change behavior. Economic trends and short term needs could preclude people from changing land use in spite of recognized be nefits of conservation measures, because they take longer to be perceived. It is necessary to understand th e contextual environment in an impact evaluation process (Rossi et al. 2004). Literature Review International funding agencies are recognizing the need to evaluate programs outcomes and impacts systematically beyond mere deliv ery of outputs (UNDP 2002) Evaluators and researchers also have stressed the importance of applying scien tific methods and theoretical frameworks to program evaluation to reach re liable and trustworthy conclusions to guide decisions about the future of programs (Rossi et al. 2004, Hubbard & Hayashi 2003, Mulvey et al. 2003, GAO 2002, UNDP 2002). Many conservation and sustainabl e development efforts are geared toward environmental behavior changes. MBCP is one example. Al beit MBCP planners did no t indicate a theoretical framework upon which they developed the work plan, it can be inferred from the project

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26 document (UNDP 1999) that the MBCP long-term goal was a change in land use behavior. MBCP engaged in disseminating information through different communication channels to increase knowledge as a way to affect perceptions toward natural areas positively. Effects on knowledge and perceptions was expected to prom ote behaviors toward land uses to induce natural areas enhancement via th eir biological interconnectivity. Therefore, MBCPs theoretical realm lies within behavior and communication theories. Several behavioral research ers explain the process of performing a behavior by establishing relationships among f actors such as knowledge, value systems, social and cultural norms, personal skills and capaci ties, perceptions, beliefs, a nd attitudes (Stern 2000, Rogers 2003, Petty & Priester 1994, Hines et al. 1987, Bandura 1986, Ajzen 1985, Ajzen & Fishbein 1980). These authors proposed theories stressing one or a few elements of the behavior process as the key factors they believed could be used to explain or predict behavior. They analyzed behavior as a result of a c ognitive process in comparison to imposition or reflex-reaction. Most of these theories relate those factors affecting behavior as a process that generally starts with the acquisition of knowledge. Kais er et al. (1999) noted that according to many authors factual knowledge is a necessary preco ndition for any attitude in general, and for environmental attitudes and ecological behaviors, in particular. Many studies have found a positive relationship between knowledge and pro-environmental attitudes (Aipanjiguly et al. 2003). However, knowledge itself is not the only f actor affecting attitudes, but rather an element that is influenced by other f actors (Kaiser et al. 1999). In the environmental arena, the theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen 1985) -or its predecessor, the theory of Reas oned Action (Ajzen & Fishbein 1980) has been frequently used to explain or predict environmental behavior (Aipanjiguly et al. 2003, Ka iser et al. 1999).

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27 According to this theory, indivi duals cognitive capabilities, pers onal and social norms and value systems modulate the perception of the acquired information. Per ceptions lead to formation of attitudes towards the particular issue. Attitudes influence intentions to perform behaviors. Intentions to behave in a certain way may be conditioned by other factors such as personal skills (or lack of them) or external conditions that favor or limit th e performance of behaviors. Therefore, intentions to perform behaviors are a useful variable to measure behavior, according to the theory of Planned Behavior. While many behavior theories approach behavioral changes at the individual level, the theory of diffusion of innovations analyzes social behavioral ch anges. Rogers (1995) Diffusion of Innovations theory analyzes the process by which individuals or groups adopt new ideas or practices. Rogers defines diffusion as a p rocess by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the member s of a social system. Since DoI combines elements of behavior and comm unication theories, it becomes an ideal theoretical framework to evaluate MBCP. Four elements can be identified in the diffusion process: the innovation, the communication channels, time and the social sy stem. According to Mahajan & Peterson (1985, p. 7), an innovation is an idea, object, or practice that is perceived as new by members of the social system Communication channels are the means by which the information is transmitted to or within the social system. [It] includes mass media communication channels [and] interpersonal communicati on and face-to-face linkages between two or more members of a social system. Times re lates to the rate at which the innovation is diffused or the relative speed which it is adop ted. The social system consists of individuals, organizations, or agencies that share a comm on culture and are potential adopters of the innovation. [They] can range from [individuals], organizations, governmental agencies, states or nations. According to Rogers (1995), each of these components has a set of factors affecting them. The perception of something as an innovation depends on: its relative advantage when

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28 compared to other known ways of solving the same problem; compatibility with existing sets of needs and values among potential adopters; complexity of the perceived difficulty to understand its use; trialability or the degree to which the new idea can be tried out; and observability or how easy the new concept can be seen by others. The communication channels are affected by the basic elements of communication: message, diffusion source, communication mechanism or diffusion agent and receiver. The communicatio n channel is the mech anism of interaction between individuals transmitting the diffusion of the innovation and those adopting or rejecting it. Two important concepts relating to the comm unication channels are the degree of similarity among source and receptor individuals (homophily) or dissimilarity (heterophily), referring to the communication principle that the transfer of ideas occurs mo st frequently among socially and physically proximate individuals. The decision process of adopting or re jecting the new concept is affected by time as a factor of diffusion. Rogers (1995) recognized several steps to conceptualize this process: knowledge of the innovation, attitudes towa rd the innovation, decision to adopt it, implementation of adoption (behavior performanc e), and confirmation or continuity of new behavior. These steps have a chronological se quence that has been summarized by many authors into three stages of the diffusion process, (1) knowledge/awareness, (2) perception/attitude and (3) adoption/implementation (Hubbard & Hayashi 2003, Shao 1999, Rai 1995, Nilakanta & Scamell 1990, Lin & Burt 1975). Another factor of time is the categories of adopters in terms of earliness or lateness in the adoption process. Th e rate of adoption is th e relative increment in adopting an innovation by members of a social system or community. The social system participates in the diffusion process by its set of values and norms, role of their opinion leaders

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29 and change agents affecting th e innovation decision process by means of being an optional, collective or author itarian process. DoI has been applied extensively in many prof essional fields to eval uate the process of changes in attitudes and behavi or toward the adoption of ne w ideas, products or technology (Meyer 2004, Nutley et al. 2002, Rogers 2003, Wo lf 1994, Mahajan & Pete rson 1985). Several authors mention that thousands of studies in numerous disciplines have used DoI as their theoretical framework (Meyer 2004, Nutley et al. 2002, Mahajan & Peterson 1985). Such studies have focused on different aspects of DoI mentioned before, but very few of them have approached the communication venue (Lehma n-Wilzig and Cohen-Avigdor 2004, Li 2004, Rai 1995, Lin & Burt 1975). Researchers from the fiel ds of biology conservation (Jacobson et al. 2003), computer science (Rai 1995) and sociology (Lin & Burt 1975) have stressed the importance of communication channels in diffusion processes. However, it seems there is little research studying effects of communication channels in diffusi on of biodiversity conservation ideas. I conducted a search of DoI papers from 1992 to 2005, randomly selecting 50 publications out of 390 from a literature search using the Web of Science electroni c browser. I used a list of randomly generated numbers from 1 to 390 (the total of DoI citations found by the electronic search). Of the 50 randomly selected publications, I only in cluded 41 publications in my analysis; those I had access to the abstract or complete document. I classified studies by professional field and by DoI topic used in research. From the search, I identified the following DoI topics: rate or stages of diffusion of t echnology or concepts, social norms, dissemination instruments such as channels, agents of change and opinion leaders, social networks and innovations attributes Table 1-1 presents the re sults of this analysis.

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30 Results show that most of the research using DoI in the past decade has been conducted in the Business (24%), Health (22 %) and Computer Science (22%) fi elds. Most studies focused on the rate or stage of diffusion (63%), as mentioned by Nutley et al. (2002), Rogers (1995) and Wolf (1994). Other DoI factors appeared evenly distributed am ong publications in the past 14 years. This empirical and brief analysis is congruent with rese archers findings stating that mainly Education, Health (Nutley et al. 2002), Bu siness and Information Science have used DoI theory during the last decade. It seems that th e field of conservation biology has not applied DoI as abundantly as other fields, nor has th e focus been on communication channels. Table 1-1. Sample of research on diffusion of innovation (DoI) conduc ted between 1992 and 2005 categorized by field and research topic Topic Field Rate of diffusion Social Norms Channels/change agent/opinion leaders Social Networks Innovation Attributes Total Business/Marketing 3, 28, 36, 39 12 4 41 5,33, 38 10 Health 6, 14, 20, 22, 23, 24, 35 31 25 9 Computer/Information Science 10, 17, 26, 27, 29, 34, 37 30, 40 9 Social Sciences 16 21 2 Economics 15 9 2 Communication 2, 8 2 Environmental Science 11 18 2 Natural Science/Resources 19 1 2 Policy/Public Admin. 7 32 2 Agriculture 13 1 Total 26 3 4 4 4 41 Key to citations in Table 1-1: 1 Walters et al. 2005; 2 Lehman-Wilzig and Cohen-Avigdor 2004; 3 Gharavi and Cheng 2004; 4 Godes and Mayzlin 2004; 5 Beise 2004; 6 Burke and Benachemi 2004; 7 Frederickson et al. 2004; 8 Li 2004; 9 Uhlaner 2003; 10 Hardgrave et al. 2003; 11 Velayudhan 2003; 12 Loch et al., 2003; 13. Reece and Sumberg 2003; 14 Schiaffino et al. 2003; 15. Crocco 2003; 16 Hubbard and Mulvey 2003; 17 Brousseau 2003; 18 Vollink et al. 2002; 19 Ira 2001; 20 Steenhuis et al. 2001; 21 Harrisson; et al. 2001; 22 Perleth et al. 1999; 23 Bartholomew et al. 2000; 24 Pelletier-Fleury et al. 1999; 25 Kincaid 2000; 26 Vaughan and Schwartz 1999; 27 Dos Santos and Peffers 1998; 28 Jimnez-Martnez and Polo-Redondo 1998; 29 Kortelainen 1997; 30 Holland 1997; 31 Valente et al. 1997; 32 Golub and Johnson 1996; 33 Mat utes et al 1996; 34 Ruppel and Harrington 1995; 35 Parcel et al.1995; 36 Kapur 1995; 37 Wynekoop and Finan 1994; 38 Wang 1994; 39 Filippini 1993; 40 Yavas et al. 1992; 41 Callon et al. 1992. Beyond this analysis, DoI theory also has b een often used to study the diffusion of new agricultural technology (Reece 2003, Heong et al 1998), as well as environmentally sound

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31 agricultural technology (Walte rs et al. 2005, Feder and Savastano 2004, Coughenour 2003). Nevertheless, it has been seldom used to assess the diffusion of new approaches in conservation of biodiversity and natural areas management (Jacobson et al. 2003, Ira 2001). Literature reviews demonstrate that DoI is a reliable theoreti cal framework to study perceptions, attitudes and behavior DoI has been applied as well as a theoretical framework for program impacts evaluations (Rogers & Sco tt 1997, Hubbard & Hayash i 2003). Biodiversity and land uses are concepts not uni que to the MBC, but their rela tion to the notion of biological interconnectivity among natura l areas is. The idea of biological corridors was first introduced in Mesoamerica by the WCS Paseo Pantera Projec t in 1990 (Coates 2003), but it was the MBCP who systematically diffused the concept of build ing biological corridors through biodiversity friendly land uses. In a way, MBCPs concep ts promote forestry and agriculture best management practices with the specific objective of allowing wild species to move from one natural area to another. This land-use appr oach, together with the multi-level/multi-nation organization, is an innovative idea to advance toward conservation and sustainable development issues in Mesoamerica. According to the MBC initiative, the relative advantages of adopting these practices are the enhancement of environmental services and some economical benefits from the interconnection of natura l areas and sustainable use of na tural resources, respectively (UNDP 1999). Trifinio authoriti es recognize the dependence of a significant proportion of the population on natural resources (L opez et al 2004) supporting the not ion that MBCP concepts are compatible with local needs. I am assuming that MBCP participants perceived the implementation of biological corr idors and projects concepts as an innovative conservation idea, as well as the relative advantages of adopti ng them. The MBCP therefore represents an

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32 opportunity to evaluate the effects of comm unication channels in knowledge increase and perceptions of a conservation innovation among communities. Research of Communication Channe ls in Diffusion of Innovations Studies from business m anagement (Godes & Mayzlin 2004, Shao 1999, White & Jacobs 1998, Rai 1995, Fichman 1992, Nilakanta & Scamell 1990), health (Hubbard & Hayashi 2003, Hubbard & Mulvey 2003), agriculture (Heong et al. 1998, Warriner & Moul 1992) and sociology (Lin & Burt 1975) based on DoI establish a re lationship between communication channels and the diffusion and adoption process. These papers studied correlations betw een characteristics of communication channels and adopters attribut es. Communication chan nel characteristics included amount of media covera ge, quantity, variety, types and effectiveness of channels. Adopters could be individuals, such as professionals of specific fi elds, or organizations such as business firms or stakeholders groups, such as small farmers or low-income communities. Adopters attributes relate to de mographics, complexity of the so cial or organizational structure and the communication network within that structure. DoI communication channels research also cons iders the effect of channels in relation to the stages of the diffusion process, whic h can be divided into knowledge/awareness, perception/attitude and adop tion/implementation (Hubbard & Hayashi 2003, Shao 1999, Rai 1995, Nilakanta & Scamell 1990, Lin & Burt 1975). Th e first stage relates to the acquisition of knowledge to become aware of the innovation a nd its attributes. The second stage is the formation of perceptions and att itudes that lead to the adoption or rejection of the innovation. The final stage is actual adoption, but depending on the type of innovation, it is followed by its continued implementation. This division of the final stage relates to the notion that some innovations are imposed at the organization or so cietylevel by hierarch ical decision makers, but it requires the continued im plementation of actual adopters (Rai 1995, Fichman 1992) such

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33 as employers or citizens. An example of this is the implementation of laws and policies. Even though laws and policies can be imposed, they re quire a grade of social acceptance thus, willingness to adopt from the society in which laws are enforced. Studies on DoI communication channels most fre quently focus on either end of the stages of the diffusion process. Channels are correl ated to knowledge transf er (Heong et al. 1998, White & Jacobs 1998, Rai 1995,) or to levels of adoption (Shao 1998, Fichman 1992, Warriner & Moul 1992, Lin & Burt 1975). Some studies explore both relations hips (Godes & Mayzlin 2004, Nilakanta & Scamell 1990), and a few explore perceptions toward innovations (Hubbard & Mulvey 2003, Heong et al. 1998). The description of communication channe ls varied among these studies depending on adopters attributes and organizational context. However, th ey all recognized mass media as a channel of ample distribution among society a nd it included television, radio, newspapers and periodical publications (journa ls and magazines) and pamphlet distribution. Pamphlets were considered part of local media together w ith posters (Lin & Burt 1975) and billboards or a category in itself (Heong et al 1998). Workshops and seminars were also frequently mentioned (Heong et al. 1998, White & Jacobs 1998, Rai 1995, N ilakanta & Scamell 1990). Other channels evaluated in DoI research were personal comm unication or word of mouth (Godes & Mayzlin 2004), which seems to play a particular role in the diffusion of agriculture conservation technology (Warriner & Moul 1992), and Internet (White & Jacobs 1998). Channels of communications are dependent variables in thes e studies, with the exception of Lin & Burts (1975). They analyzed covariant correlations among several variables channels, demographic attributes and social networkswithout esta blishing causation. Demographic variables do not seem to have a significant relationship with channels beyond access.

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34 Some frequent findings have been: Mass media channels showed a stronger correlation with knowledge transfer and awareness stage than other channels (Rogers 2003, Heong et al. 1998, Lin & Burt 1975), but no effect on adoption (Lin & Burt 1975). Channels more closely related to potentia l adopters (homophilic) such as workshops, seminars and opinion leaders are slower in raising awareness but correlate better with adoption of innovations (Hubbard et al. 2003, Lin & Burt 1975). Interpersonal communication showed positive correlation with adoption (Hubbard et al. 2003, Warriner & Moul 1992), but it is a slow mechanism for diffusion (Hubbard et al. 2003). In contrast, Lin & Burt (1975) found no correlation between interpersonal communication and adoption. Perceptions and attitudes correlate with the levels of skills and perceived capacity to perform a behavior (Hubbard et al. 2003) and with cost-benef its perceived if a practice is adopted (Heong et al. 1998). It is easier to measure the adoption of an objective innovati on. DoI literature recognizes that an innovation can be an obj ective element such as physical in struments or specific practices, i.e., new technologies, computer ha rdware or software, etc., as well as a more subjective set of concepts or ideas, such as health guidelines or a set of best management practices in agriculture (Nutley et al. 2002, Rogers 2003, Rogers & Scott 1997) The innovation in most of the research on DoI and communication channels is the form er type. The difficulty with studying a conceptual innovation is in de fining the object to be adopted, for measurement purposes. How many best management practic es and what percentage of th e target population are needed to consider them adopted and expect an impact ? This is the case of MBCP where the innovation is the concept of biological connect ivity and the practice to be adopted would be the use of plants preferably native treesthat would allow wildlife to move from one natural area to another. This MBCP evaluation concentrated on the stages of knowledge/awareness and perception/attitudes.

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35 Research Objectives The objectives of my study were to: 1. Measure changes in knowledge of MBC key concepts at a local level between 2001 and 2006. 2. Assess local perceptions of MBCP concepts. 3. Assess the effect of communica tion channels used in the MBCPs diffusion process on changes in local public knowledge and perceptions. 4. Assess the effectiveness of workshops for journalists on mass media coverage. 5. Assess the diffusion process of MBCP concepts among leaders of relevant national and local stakeholders 6. Provide guidance to other conservation and development programs about diffusion of new ideas.

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36 CHAPTER 2 EVALUATION OF THE COMMUNICATION STRATEGY OF T HE MESOAMERICAN BIOLOGICAL CORRIDOR PROJECT: E FFECTS ON PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTIONS Introduction International funding agencies recognize the need to evaluate programs outcom es and impacts systematically beyond mere deliver y of outputs (UNDP 2002). Evaluators and researchers also have stressed the importance of applying scien tific methods and theoretical frameworks to program evaluation to reach re liable and trustworthy conclusions to guide decisions about the future of programs (UNDP 2002, GAO 2002, Mulvey et al. 2003, Hubbard & Hayashi 2003, Rossi et al. 2004). Latin American governments have generally allocated limited funds to biodiversity conservation protec tion and management (Hopkins 1995, Bates & Rudel 2000), relying ma inly on internat ional funds. Therefore, asse ssing outcomes is particularly pertinent to biodiversity conservation projects in developing nations to guide optimal use of limited resources. Mesoamerica is a region that has attracte d large sums of inte rnational funds for environmental issues (Guzman et al. 2003). The region is considered a biodiversity hotspot due to its abundance of endemic species, diversity of ecosystems and high threat levels because of unsustainable development processes (Myers et al. 2000). Mesoamerica represents approximately 0.5% (800,000 km2) of the planets territory, yet it is believed to contain 7% of the known global biodiversity with a large divers ity of ecosystems represented by 22 distinct ecoregions (UNDP 1999, UICN 2000, Miller et al. 2001, PCCBM 2002a, Coates 2003). In 1990, the Wildlife Conservation Society propose d the creation of an extended biological corridor interconnecti ng the largest natural areas in Cent ral America as a way to confront

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37 regional biodiversity loss due to habitat fragme ntation, recognized as a major threat (Coates 2003). After many years of lobbying for this proposal, the Central Am erican and Mexican governments adopted this idea (Garca 1996) as an approach to achieve sustainable development (Miller et al. 2001). The Global Environmental Facility and the German Technical Cooperation Agency, complemented by Mesoamerican Governments, allocated US$16 million in 1999 to fund the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project (MPCP). Many conservation and sustaina ble development projects ex pect to influence human behavior to address their conser vation goals. While many behavior theories approach behavioral changes at the individual level, the theory of diffusion of innovations (DoI) explains social behavioral changes. Diffusion of innovation theory analyzes the process by which people adopt new ideas or practices, defining diffusion as a process in which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the memb ers of a social system (Rogers 2003 p. 5). There are five main elements in DoI: (1) the characteristic of the innovation, (2) the communication channels used to diffuse the ne w concepts, (3) the time it takes members of society to adopt the innovation and factors affecting the adopti on process through time, (4) the characteristics of members of the social system that will facilitate adopting new concepts sooner or later in the process, and (5) the communica tion structure of the social systems that will facilitate or impede the diffusion of new id eas. This study focuses on the effects of communication channels on adoption processes. An innovation can be objective, for instance a new electronic device or the use of Internet (Singer 1998), or subjective such as new ideas or concepts like safe sex practices (Bertrand 2004, Valente & Fosados 2006) or new conservation ap proaches (Jacobson et al. 2003) such as enhancing biological connectivity among protected areas. Comm unication channels provide a

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38 delivery mechanism of quantity and quality of information about an innovation. Different communication channels are expected to be more effective at different stages of the diffusion process. A simplification of the time scale of DoIs adoption process st arts at the knowledgeawareness stage, followed by perception-attitude ending with adoption-implementation (Lin & Burt 1975, Nilakanta & Scamell 1990, Rai 1995, Hubbard & Hayashi 2003). Mass media channels are expected to be an adequate mech anism to deliver information to increase public awareness of the innovation, while interpersonal communication is expected to facilitate the formation of favorable perceptions and pos itive attitudes about th e innovative idea among potential adopters. DoI classifies individuals according to the time they take to go through the diffusionadoption process into innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and non-adopters (Rogers 2003). Individuals promptness to adopt an innovation tends to follow a normal distribution. The first two types of individuals could adopt the new ideas direc tly from the initial exposure to the information, while the others mi ght need to hear the opinion from previous adopters to form perceptions and attitudes to ward the innovation. Whereas innovators, those who take little time to adopt i nnovations, may be considered to take too much risk to be followed by many, early adopters play an important role in diffusing the new ideas because they serve as the role to follow. As time passes, more members of the social system are expected to advance through the diffusion stages adopting the new con cepts, portraying an S-shaped curve in an adoption rate graph (Figure 2-1).

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39 Figure 2-1. Rate of adoption, type of adopters and stages in di ffusion of innovations theory. a) Rate of adoption of innovations through time (S-shaped curve). b) Categorization and distribution of types of adopters (normal distribution curve). c) Diffusion stages through time and most influential channel. Adopters types can go through the different diffusion stages at different pace. Adapted from Rogers (2003) The communication structure of a social syst em can be complex and its description is beyond the focus of this study. However, the co mmunication structure of the social system affects the perception and preferences of comm unication channels depending on the trust and reliability members of the social system place on the channels.

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40 DoI has been used in behavior research for many years (Rogers 1962, 2003) to study the effects of communication channels on the innovati on adoption process in di fferent fields (Lin & Burt 1975, Nilakanta & Scamell 1990, Fichman 1992, Rai 1995, White & Jacobs 1998, Heong et al. 1998, Shao 1999, Hubbard & Mulvey 2003, Godes & Mayzlin 2004). It frequently has been applied to study the diffusion of innovative, environmentally sound agricultural concepts (Warriner & Moul 1992, Coughenour 2003, Feder & Savastano 2004, Walters et al. 2005). DoI has been applied also as a theoretical framewor k in evaluation of programs impacts (Rogers & Scott 1997, Hubbard & Hayashi 2003). Neverthele ss, it has seldom been used to assess the diffusion of new approaches in conservation of biodiversity and management of natural areas (Ira 2001, Jacobson et al. 2003). One objective of MBCP was to diffuse the co ncept and practice of biological connectivity of protected areas by use of sustainable land use practices (UNDP 1999). MBCP promoted sustainable forestry and agricultu ral best management practices with the specific objective of creating corridors to allow wild sp ecies to move from one natural ar ea to another. This land-use approach was an innovative id ea to advance conservation and sustainable development in Mesoamerica. The relative advantages of a dopting these practices were the enhancement of environmental services from the interconnection of natural areas and some economic benefits from ecotourism and sustainable la nd use practices (UNDP 1999). One of the main components of the Proj ect was the diffusion of the following key concepts: protected areas contribution to development, biologi cal connectivity among natural areas to enhance environmental services, sustai nable development, and the use of biofriendly land-use practices as biological connectors. Du ring the life of the Project, between 2000 and

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41 2006, MBCP used a variety of communication cha nnels to increase knowl edge about and support for those concepts at local, national and multi-national levels. MBCP Communication Strategy MBCP intended to reach two audiences, the general public of Mesoamer ican societies, and specific stakeholders relevant to the im plementation of biological corridors. To optimize the use of project resources, MBCP disseminated the proj ects concepts by addres sing journalists that were expected to produce mass media products to reach the public, and key members of relevant stakeholders groups that were expected to spread the information among their peers. Addressing the general public started w ith support from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) which produced several mass medi a products that were distribut ed to television and radio stations during 2000, as part of the MBCP la unch campaign. These products included six jingles, six 30-seconds narrative spots for TV and radio, and two documentaries (10 and 3 minutes). Television channels in each Mesoam erican country had WWF audio-visual products on the air for a few months. MBCP conducted a p ublic survey in 2001 to assess the effects of the launch campaign and to design the fo llow-up communication strategy (PCCBM 2002b). Between 2001 and 2004, MBCP conducted 10 interna tional workshops specifically directed to journalists and communication offi cers of environmental minist ries from all Mesoamerican countries, and several national workshops with lo cal journalists. A network was established connecting journalists that pa rticipated in these workshops communication officers of each countrys environmental ministry, WWF, and ot her stakeholders involved in the MBCPs communication process. The Project expected that this network would promote sustained production of MBCP mass media products. Stakeholders groups were addressed thr oughout the projects lif e by different MBCP meetings such as congresses, workshops, short courses, seminars, and direct contact with project

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42 personnel (PCCBM 2007). These meetings were held at regional, national and local levels. MBCP produced a series of technical and inform ative documents published in different formats, including posters, pamphlets, brochures, books and compact disks. Some countries produced additional national MBCP products. Printed material was distributed at M BCP meetings or sent directly to key stakeholder members. Pamphlet s were made available to the public at some meetings open to the public. Many documen ts were available through the Internet ( www.ccad.ws/PCCBM/pccbm.html ). An electronic bulletin was distributed via electronic mail to m ore than 1,000 relevant Mesoamerican stakeholders from 2000 to 2004 (J. Mejia 2005, MBCP communications office, personal communication). The expected outcomes of MBCPs communi cation strategy were a 10% increase in knowledge of and support for MBCPs concepts, and ample MBCP dissemination in the mass media (UNDP 1999). The MBCP communication stra tegy can be assessed through the lens of a DoI framework that used mass media and inte rpersonal channels to inform the public, reinforcing the diffusion process by addressing ke y members of stakeholder groups. Figure 2-2 shows a diagram I elaborated schematizing th e MBCP communication strategy to disseminate the MBCP concepts. Using DoI as a theoretical framework, I evaluated the impact of the MBCP public communication strategy on the key concep ts that the Project promoted.

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43 Figure 2-2. MBCP co mmunication strategy Solid lines represent main flow of information conducte d by MBCP and its expected effects; dotted lines portray secondary, partial or indirect flows. Note that stakeholders representatives and journalists play a role as communication channels and target audiences. Research Objectives To effectively achieve biological conn ectivit y, land use changes must happen at the local level. This study evaluated whether MBCP reach ed the public of specific conservation sites. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the communication outcome s achieved by the MBCP public communication strategy after five years of program operation at the local level, and to assess the efficacy of different communicati on channels by comparing results from a 2001 survey to my 2006 survey. The study assessed whether: Local public knowledge about MBCP concepts increased at least 10% from 2001 to 2006 among the study site population. Local perceptions were more supportive of pr otected areas and biological corridors in 2006. Local perceptions changed from utilitarian use of protected areas to more conservationist perceptions.

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44 The degree of change in local public knowledge and perception about MBC were related to reported exposure to differen t communication channels. Journalists workshops were an effective mech anism to deliver information to the public. MBCP's concepts diffused among the local public according to DoI's expected stages of the adoption process. Methods Study Site The MBCP considered 1 1 multinational subregions cited in the Central American Biodiversity Treaty (CCAD 1992) as priority areas where most proj ect activities were focused. One of these areas was Trifinio, a 7,584 km2 tri-national region shared by Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, with a population above 670,000, a literacy rate of 47%, and 87% living in poverty (Lopez et al. 2004). The need for natural resources for subsistence places an enormous pressure on the regions diverse natural ecosystems, making inhabitants more vulnerable to the impoverished agricultural soils, extreme climatic events a nd biodiversity loss. Originally, Trifinios forest cover was 80%; now only 18% remains (OAS 1994). Present ecosystems include cloud forest, tropical pi ne forest, and dry and humid subtropical forests, all rich in biodiversity and threatened throughout Mesoamerica (CCAD 2003, Houghton et al. 1991, Janzen 1983). Trifinio communities surround the tri-national protected area of M ontecristo cloud forest, a proposed UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The borde rs of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador meet at the top of Montecristo Massif. Survey Design and Analysis During 2001, MBCP conducted a 55-item survey instrum ent by personal interviews among many cities throughout Mesoamerica (PCCBM 2004). Participants were chosen from a systematic stratified random sample, adjusted for equal representation of gender and age (four categories between 18 and 65 years old), within each city. The original questionnaire was

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45 designed by MBCP in conjunction with BIMSA, the surveying firm that did the 2001 MBCP survey. All questions, except demographic ite ms, were open-ended or had a yes-no response option. Survey items addressed knowledge and perceptions related to th e Project, protected areas, general environmental issu es and sustainable development. I used data from 21 items from 620 questionnaires from Trifinio commun ities surveyed in 2001, 200 from El Salvador, 120 from Honduras and 300 from Guatemala for co mparison with 2006 data. I only used the questions from the 2001 survey that address th e MBCPs concepts (7 knowledge, 11 opinion, and 3 communication questions) to compare changes in knowle dge and perceptions between surveyed years. In April of 2006, I used the services of He rrarte-Marketing polling company to repeat the 2001 MBCP survey to a random sample of the po pulation of most of the same communities within the Trifinio region, using the same sampling frame used by the MBCP. Trifinio communities surveyed were Copan and Ocotepe que in Honduras, Metapn and Chalatenango in El Salvador, and Esquipulas and Chiquimula in Guatemala. A total of 600 surveys were conducted, 100 per community. The Guatemalan Trifinio communities were not surveyed in 2001. Data from other Guatemalan communities out side Trifinio with similar socioeconomic attributes were used for comparisons. The en tire 2001 questionnaire was repeated verbatim to eliminate effects of wording changes and the eff ect of previous questions on the response of subsequent ones (Peterson 2000, Gr oves et al. 2004). I obtained the original raw data from BIMSA and recoded responses for comparison wi th the 2006 data. I constructed a knowledge index with a 0-9 scale from three items addre ssing knowledge of protected areas, MBCP and sustainable development, each element weighted 3 points. Seventeen survey items used in this study were open-ended. The polling companies th at conducted the surveys produced large lists

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46 of coded responses and codes for three questions differ between companies. Responses were recoded, potentially increasing sources of error by the added layers of interpretation of responses. Table 2-1 displays a list with E nglish translations of the public survey items used in this study with identification of inde x items. All surveys were conducted in Spanish. I used a repeated cross-sectional design, which uses repeated surveys asking the same questions to a new sample in each measurem ent period (Firebaugh 1997), because data were obtained at two points in time from different ra ndom samples of responde nts within the same cities. Table 2-1. Survey Items Typea 1. Have you heard about natural protected areas and national parks? Kw 2. Name the first three natural protected ar eas that come to your mind right now? Kwb 3. What is the importance of natural protected areas? Op 4. Have you heard about the Meso american Biological Corridor? Kw 5. What do you believe the MBC is? (Those who answered NO to item 4) Kwb 6. In your opinion, what is the MBC? (Those who answered YES to item 4) Kwb 7. Have you heard about sustainable development? Kw 8. What do you understand by sustainable development? Kwb 9. Which is the greatest natural and environmental wealth your country has? Op 10. Do you think protected areas have an importance for the economic development of the country? Op 11. Why [do you think protected areas have an importance for the economic development of the country]? Op 12. Do you think natural resources provide economic benefits to the country? Op 13. Why [do you think natural resources provide economic benefits to the country]? Op 14. Which is the most important natural resource in your community? Op 15. Why [is that the most important natural resource in your community]? Op 16. What is the function of the MBC, what is it good for? Op 17. What benefits can the MBC bring to you and your family? Op 18. If there was a project part of the MBC in your community, city or county, would you like to participate in this initiative? Op 19. From which sources did you hear about the MBC? So 20. How do you find out about what is happening in your community? So 21. From which media source do you find out about what is happening in your country? So a Abbreviations: Kw: Knowledge; Op: Opinion; So: Source b Items included in 9-points knowledge index One limitation of the design of this study was the presence of at least 20 projects addressing agricultural and forestry best manage ment practices, environmental management and sustainable development, independent from MBCP that occurred in Trifinio during the same period MBCP was active (Appendix A). Although th ese projects did not address biological

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47 connectivity, they could confound th e results related to the other MBCP concepts (Rossi et al. 2004). The survey design could not detect whether gains in knowledge and favorable perceptions of MBCPs concepts were related to other projec ts. Another limitation of the repeated survey design is the que stionable ability of respondents to reca ll past events (Meyer 2004). More reliable designs such as quasi-expe riments and panel studies (Meyer 2004, Rossi et al. 2004) were not applicable to this study. A quasi-experimental design was not possible because there was no control survey conducted among a random sample before MBCP started. A panel study was not reliable due to potential attrition bias from the long time between measurement periods (Hill 2004). Nevertheless, panel studies with high at trition rates, thus approaching the repeated crosssectional design, have showed significant representativeness of the measured sections (Fitzgerald et al. 1998). Data were analyzed with SPSS 15.0 (2006) and SAS 9.1 (2003). I used descriptive statistics to determine freque ncies and proportions. To anal yze changes between 2001 and 2006 responses, I used Pearsons chi-square to co mpare proportions of cate gorical variables and Fishers exact test when cells in contingency ta bles had five or less expected counts (Agresti & Finley1997). I used t-tests to compare means of continuous variables an d Mann-Whitney U-tests to compare groups with small sample sizes and non-normal distribution. I used the Eta measure of association to correlate inte rval and nominal vari ables (Siegel 1956), and absolute differences when comparing values between years e xpressed in percentages. Standard levels of 0.05 were considered statistically significant (Bernard 2002, Mahajan & Peterson 19 85). All quantitative results reported in the study are statistically significant, unless otherwise stated.

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48 Semi-Structured Interviews I conducted semi -structured inte rviews with 33 journalists from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. I obtained respondents names from MBCP lists of participants in journalist workshops and from Trifinio local media. My go al was to interview at least 10 journalists from each country, but I attempted to cont act every journalist on the lists. I interviewed all journalists I was able to contact, and all agreed to partic ipate. I used a 25-item discussion guide (Appendix B) that addressed journalists knowledge a nd opinions about the Pr oject, its concepts, communication process, and M BC mass media material produced by respondents and other journalists. MBCP knowledge among journalists was evaluate d throughout the interview by recording their comments that indicated direct association of the following concepts with the Project: role of protect ed areas in development; importance of biological connectivity among natural areas to enhance environm ental services; sustainable use of biodiversity; and the use of biofriendly land-use practices to develop biological corridors. Journalists knowledge about MBCP was measured in an ordinal scale of 1 4 concepts mentioned. Results Public Surveys To obtain 600 responses in 2006, 1840 houses were visited with the followi ng outcome: 706 no one at home, 200 not eligible (due to age or gender when quotas were met), 315 not willing to participate, and 19 incomplete surveys, resulting in a response rate of 33%. Response rates were not available for the 2001 survey. In 2001 all surveyed communities were assumed to be rural and socio-economic data were not collected, therefore income comparisons with 2006 data were not possible. Economic wealth data were only obtained in 2006. I compos ed a socio-economic index based on whether

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49 respondents owned or rented a hous e, how many cars they owned, num ber of home appliances in the house, and number of hired pers ons to do house labor (Table 2-2). Table 2-2. Socio-economic index used in 2006 MBCP survey Socio-economic condition Measurement Weight HRVa Index maximum values Dwelling ownership status Own=1; rent= 0 0.50 1 0.5 Number of cars owned Total reported 0.30 3 0.9 Number of home appliances in the house Total reported 0.15 26 3.9 Hired persons for house labor Total reported 0.05 2 0.1 Total 1.00 5.4 a HRV: Highest Reported Value. Index ranged from 0 to 5.4, limited by the HRV of variables included in the index. People in Central America are reluctant to pr ovide reliable monetary information about income; therefore, surveying firms recommend obtaining the previously mentioned data to measure economic wealth (C. Lopez, 2005 Herrart e-Marketing Operations Director, personal communication). Ownership of private dwellings has been used to measure socio-economic status (Patel et al. 1999). Hiring aid for house labor is a sym bol of higher social status in Central American countries. The highest socio-economic index value obtained from 2006 respondents was 5.3 and 59% of them scored a value equal or lower than the mean of 1.7. Gender, age (both adjusted for e qual representation) a nd education level were assessed in both years (Table 2-3). Education levels of the Trifinio populatio n sample decreased from 62% having a high school or higher education in 2001 to 41% in 2006. Honduran communities were as poorly educated in both y ears as the populations of El Sa lvador and Guatemala in 2006.

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50 Table 2-3 Sociodemographic charac teristics of 2001 and 2006 respondents Variable 2001 2006 Stats p value Females/males 314/306 330/270 X2 ns Age mean, years 37(SD=12.7)33(SD=13.9)t test=4.8 ns Trifinio Educational level -< High school -High school Technical sch. Bachelors 225(36%) 249(40%) 146(24%) 356(59%) 192(32%) 52(9%) X2 2= 81.22p<0.01 El Salvador Educational level -< High school -High school Technical sch. Bachelors 68(34%) 73(36%) 59(30%) 115(57%) 63(32%) 22(11%) X2 2= 29.71p<0.01 Guatemala Educational level -< High school -High school Technical sch. Bachelors 89(30%) 136(45%) 75(25%) 116(58%) 71(36%) 13(6%) X2 2= 49.63p<0.01 Honduras Educational level -< High school -High school Technical sch. Bachelors 68(57%) 40(33%) 12(10%) 125(62%) 58(29%) 17(8%) X2 ns Socio-economic indexa Mean Standard Deviation Median Mode Minimum value Maximum value n/a 1.70 0.80 1.60 1.25 0.15 5.30 a Socio-economic index based on whether respondents owned or rented a house, how many cars they owned, number of home appliances in the house, and number of hired persons to do house labor Abbreviations: ns = not significant; n/a = not available Knowledge of MBCP Concepts Reported awareness of MBCP decreased consid erably from 8% in 2001 to 2% in 2006. However, despite the decline of awareness about MBCP, there was an absolute increase of 4% in the knowledge of MBCP concepts, measured coll ectively by the 9-point index, between years (t test=5.6, p<0.01). The mean knowledge in 200 1was 0.8 (SD=1.1), representing 9% of possible total knowledge, while the mean knowledge in 2006 was 1.2 (SD=1.3) or 13%. More than 50% of both years surveyed-populations had heard about protected areas When asked to name three protected areas, average knowledge was slightly above 1, but mean knowledge in 2006 (1.21)

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51 was 5% higher than in 2001 ( 1.06). More respondents in 2006 (43%) who were not aware of MBCP linked the Project to biodiversity cons ervation and environmental protection than similarly unaware respondents in 2001 (14%), but knowledge of biological connectivity was negligible. Only 13% in both y ears had heard about sustainable development and no more than 6% of respondents demonstrated some understandi ng of the term (Table 2-4). The increase in knowledge in 2006 about protected areas came ma inly from recall of local areas: from 882 responses to name three protected areas in 2006 24% were protected ar eas within Trifinio, significantly more that the 8% reported from 1004 responses in 2001 (X2 3=111.1, p<0.01). Table 2-4. Comparison of knowledge items between 2001 and 2006 respondents Questionnaire Item na 2001b 2006b Stats p value 1. Have heard about natu ral protected areas 1220 336/620 (54%) 311/ 600 (52%) X2 ns 2. Name three natural protected areas. 647 Mean 1.06 SD 0.9 Mean 1.21 SD 0.9 t test= 2.12 p<0.05 4. Awareness of MBCP 1220 51 /620 (8%) 14 /600 (2%) X2 = 21.0 p<0.01 5. MBC is: (not exposed to MBCP) A path where wildlife moves through -Nature/environment protection or conservation -Other, no opinion 1155 6(1%) 82(14%) 481(85%) 3(0%) 250(43%) 333(57%) Fishers p<0.01 6. MBC is: (exposed to MBCP) -Connection of natural areas -Nature, biodiversity/environment protection -Other, no opinion 65 1(2%) 17(33%) 33(65%) 3(21%) 11(79%) 0 Fishers p<0.01 7. Exposed to sustainable development 1220 78/620 (13%) 80/600 (13%) X2 ns 8. Sustainable development is: Availability of resources for future generations /Development without damaging nature -Nature-environment protection/life improvementcommunity development -Other, no opinion 1220 20(3%) 29(5%) 571(92%) 36(6%) 31(5%) 533(89%) X2 ns a n: frequencies; b Units are frequencies, unless specified otherwise Abbreviations: SD = Standard deviation; ns = not significant Perceptions of MBCP Concepts Conservation of biodiversity was me ntioned as the role of protected areas by 47% of 2001 respondents, contrasting with 40% in 2006. Perceptions of the importance of protected areas shifted to environmental services production (52%) in 2006. Additi onal opinions of the

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52 importance of protected areas in 2001 were t ourism and other economic activities (9%) and no opinions or other response s (26%) (Table 2-5). Perception that protected areas are the greate st national environmental wealth increased from 21% to 36%. Over 90% in both years agreed that both protected areas and natural resources are important for national economic development. The development value was mainly seen in terms of busine ss opportunities rather than biodiversity. Yet, there was an increase from 10% to 17% in the number of 200 6 respondents relating the role of protected areas in national development to biodiversity. In 2006 more people linked economic benefits to natural resources a nd environmental benefits to protected areas. Recognition of protected areas as the most important local natural resource increased from 4% to 29% in 2006. Local importance of natural resources was more related to environmen tal, life or health supporting services and nature conservation values in 2006 th an in 2001. After a de scription of MBCP was provided to respondents, about 86% of the surveyed populations we re willing to participate in the Project, with no differences between year s regardless of exposure to the Project. Table 2-5. Comparison of opinion and channels of communication items between 2001 and 2006 respondents Questionnaire Item n 2001a 2006a Stats p value 3. Importance of natural protected areas -Conservation of biodiversity -Tourism or other economic importance -Environmental Services production -Other, no opinion 647 158(47%) 30(9%) 61(18%) 87(26%) 125(40%) 12(4%) 163(52%) 11(4%) X2 3= 116.15 p<0.01 9. Greatest natural wealth in your country: -Protected Area -Non-protected natural area, nature, flora & fauna -Agriculture/ranching, tourism, natural resources -Environmental services (water, air) -Other, no opinion 1220 132(21%) 212(34%) 92(15%) 29(5%) 155(25%) 217(36%) 232(39%) 120(20%) 8(1%) 23(4%) X2 4= 134.82 p<0.01 10. Protected areas ARE important for development 647 312 (93%) 284(91%) X2 Ns 11. Why are protected areas important? -Biodiversity/Environment related -Economic/business reasons -Other, no opinion 596 30(10%) 246(79%) 36(11%) 48(17%) 228(80%) 8(3%) X2 2 = 21.39 p<0.01 12. Do natural resources provide economic benefits to the country? YES 1220 565(91%) 578(96%) X2= 13.97 p<0.01

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53 Table 2-5. Continued Questionnaire Item n 2001a 2006a Stats p value 13. Why [to item 12]? -Biodiversity/Environment related -Economic reasons -Other, no opinion 1220 58(9%) 473(76%) 89(14%) 54(9%) 520(87%) 26(4%) X2 2 = 36.56 p<0.01 14. Most important local natural resource -Protected Areas -Non-protected natural area, flora & fauna -Tourism, agriculture/ranching, nat. resources -Environmental services (water, air) -Other, no opinion 1220 27(4%) 170(27%) 119(19%) 183(29%) 121(20%) 176(29%) 170(28%) 95(16%) 119(20%) 40(7%) X2 4 = 166.09 p<0.01 15. Why [to item 14]? -Life/health supporting, environmental services -Naturistic biodiversity conservation values -Recreation/tourism -Utilitarian/economic values -Other, no opinion 1220 235(38%) 85(14%) 48(8%) 104(17%) 148(24%) 298(50%) 130(22%) 59(10%) 88(15%) 25(4%) X2 = 106.48 p<0.01 16. The function of MBC is: -Environmental Protection/Species Conservation -Other, no opinion 65 14(27%) 37(73%) 10(71%) 4(29%) Fishers p<0.01 17. MBC benefits to family -Health/better quality of life -Cultural benefits -Economic/tourism -Environmental -None -No opinion 65 7(14%) 1(2%) 1(2%) 6(12%) 1(2%) 35(69%) 1(7%) 1(7%) 5(36%) 4(29%) 2(14%) 1(7%) Fishers p<0.01 18. Willingness to participate in MBCP 1220 531(86 %) 526(88%) X2 ns 19. Sources of MBCP information -TV -Radio -Written press -Posters -Workshops -Word of mouth -Others, no opinion 65 14(28%) 0 2(4%) 24(47%) 1(2%) 1(2%) 9(18%) 6(43%) 1(7%) 1(7%) 1(7%) 4(29%) 1(7%) 0 Fishers p<0.01 20. Sources of local information -TV -Radio -Written press -Word of mouth -Others, no opinion 1220 444(72%) 61(10%) 27(4%) 71(12%) 17(3%) 216(36%) 111(19%) 22(4%) 241(40%) 10(2%) X2 4 = 186.32 p<0.01 21. Sources of national information -TV -Radio -Written press -Word of mouth -Others, no opinion 1220 542(87%) 46(7%) 22(4%) 9(2%) 1(0%) 507(85%) 61(10%) 25(4%) 0 7(1%) Fishers p<0.01 a Units are frequencies, unless specified otherwise Abbreviations: n = frequencies; SD: Standard deviation; ns = not significant

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54 Differences between Respondents Exposed to MBCP Results from some items showed greater differences between years among those respondents that were exposed to MBCP. Responde nts reporting familiarity with MBCP in 2006 had a mean of 3.0 in the 9-point knowledge inde x (33% of total knowledge) and same year nonexposed respondents had 1.2 (13%) (Mann-Whitney U=1422, p<0.01), while 2001 MBCPexposed respondents averaged 1.0 or 11% of total knowledge (Mann-Whitney U=116.5, p<0.01). Those exposed to the MBCP in 2006 had the hi ghest knowledge of protect ed areas, providing on average two correct names out of three soli cited, versus non-exposed 2006 respondents and all 2001 respondents who could name slightly above one protected area on average. Sixty four percent of MBCP-exposed respondents in 2006 related protected areas to production of environmental services, versus 7% in 2001. Likewise, 64% of 2006 MBCP-exposed respondents had heard about sustainable development versus 22% in 2001; however, only about a third of 2006 exposed respondents linked the concept to availa bility of resources for future generations or development without damaging nature, and 6% of exposed respondents in 2001. Recognition of protected areas as the countrys greates t natural and environmental wealth among 2006 MBCP-exposed respondents increased from 14% to 57%, and values of protected areas related to biodiversity conservation or enviro nmental protection increased from 4% to 36% in 2006 (Table 2-6).

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55 Table 2-6. Comparison of statistically significant results of survey items from respondents exposed to MBCP between 2001 and 2006 (p<0.05) Questionnaire Item N 2001a 2006a Stats 2. Name the first three natural protected areas that come to your mind right now? Sum of right answers 38 27 mean 1.3 SD 1.1 11 mean 2.1 SD 0.9 MannWhitney U= 86.5 3. What is the importance of natural protected areas? -Conservation of biodiversity -Tourism or other economic importance -Environmental Services production -Other, no opinion 38 10(37%) 3(11%) 2(7%) 12(44%) 4(37%) 0 7(64%) 0 Fishers 5. What is the MBC? Connection of natural protected areas -Other, no opinion 65 1(2%) 50(98%) 3(21%) 11(79%) Fishers 7. Have you heard about sustainable development? YES 65 11/51 (22%) 9/14 (64%) Fishers 8. What do you understand by sustainable development? -Future availability of resource/Development without damaging nature -Nature-environment protection/life improvementcommunity development -Other, no opinion 65 3(6%) 6(12%) 42(82%) 4(29%) 5(36%) 5(36%) Fishers 9. Which is the greatest natural and environmental wealth your country has? -Protected Area -Non-protected natural area, nature, flora & fauna -Agriculture/ranching, tourism, natural resources -Environmental services (water, air) -Other, no opinion 65 7(14%) 14(27%) 8(16%) 1(2%) 21(41%) 8(57%) 2(14%) 2(14%) 0 2(14%) Fishers 11.Role of protected areas in countrys development Biodiversity Conservation/Environment protection -Economic/business reasons -Other, no opinion 65 1(4%) 20(87%) 2(9%) 4(36%) 7(64%) 0 Fishers Abbreviations: Kw: Knowledge; Op: Opinion; n: frequencies a Units are frequencies (n), unless specified otherwise When asked to name three protected areas 2006 MBCP-exposed respondents named 33% (11/33) of local protected areas, while the same type of respondents in 2001 named 5% (4/81) (Fishers p<0.01). Effects of Sociodemographic Traits Some sociodemographic characteristics were associated with changes in knowledge and perceptions. Male respondents and those with higher educati on levels had higher knowledge scores (p<0.01). Additionally, El Salvador sh owed the largest increa se in knowledge between years (2006: 1.3/9, 2001:0.8/9; t te st=4.71, p<0.01), while Honduras had the highest knowledge

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56 means (2006: 1.5/9, 2001:1.1/9; t test=2.22, p<0. 05). Knowledge change remained positively associated with time (years) after controlli ng for education (R=0.228, p<0.01) in spite of the reduction of education levels in the sample in 2006. In 2001, there were some differences in opinions by gender and country of residence: more males (53%) associated protected areas with conservation than females (40%), and more Hondurans (19%) related protect ed areas to tourism, compared to Salvadorans (9%) and Guatemalans (6%) (X2 6=17.8, p<0.01). These disappeared by 2006. Income was only assessed in 2006, and it was correlated with knowledge gain (Eta = 0.427, p<0.01). Other opinion questions were not influenced by sociodemographic characteristics. Effects of Communication Channels In spite of the fact that few respondents ha d heard about MBCP, th ere were differences between years in the effectiveness of different ch annels in delivering project information (Figure 2-3). In 2001 m ost participants who had h eard about MBCP found out about it from posters, followed by TV, whereas in 2006, TV was the Proj ect source most frequently cited, followed by MBCP workshops. Preferred loca l sources of information shifte d from mainly TV, followed by radio in 2001, to word of mouth, TV, and radio in 2006. The majority of the Trifinio population obtained national information from TV during both surveyed years (Table 2-5). The study could not detect whether different co mmunication channels had an e ffect on knowledge and perception changes. Chi-square analysis of contingency tables crossing all reported communication channels (preferred sources for local and national information and MBCP sources of information) with knowledge below or equa l-to-or-above the population mean showed no significant differences.

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57 Figure 2-3. 2001 and 2006 Percentages of reported channels as local, national and MBCP sources of information. Abbreviations: MBCP (Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project), TV (television) WP (written press), WoM (word of mouth). Bars represent plus 1 standard error Sample size: Local and National: 2001=620, 2006=600; MBCP: 2001=51, 2006=14 Statistics: Local: X2 4=186.32 p<0.01; National and MBCP: Fishers p<0.01 A logistic regression analys is (Agresti 2007) showed th at having knowledge below or above the mean (dependent variable) was explai ned by changes in age, gender, education, and survey year, but not by communi cation channels or project aw areness. A dummy dependent variable KNWMEAN was assigned a value of 1 if respondents knowledge was equal or above the mean (1.04) and 0 if below. AWARENESS accounted for whether respondents had heard about MBCP (1) or not (0). Sources of MBCP information were clustered as interpersonal channels or mass media (Lin & Burt 1975, Jacobson 1999, Valente & Fosados 2006), and two dummy variables, INTEPCH and MMCH were created assigning a value of 1 to respondents

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58 reporting either type of channel. Other expl anatory variables included in the model were SURVEYYEAR, GENDER, AGE and EDUCATION (Table 2-7). Table 2-7. Logistic regression analysis of factors affecting respondents mean MBCP knowledge Variables Categories (values) Frequency Parameter Standard Error t values p value 15-25 (1) 381 26-35 (2) 297 36-45 (3) 253 AGE >45 (4) 289 0.117 0.054 2.154 < High School (1) 581 High School (2) 441 EDUCATION University (3) 198 0.701 0.089 7.835 ** Female (1) 644 GENDER Male (0) 576 -0.606 0.124 -4.892 ** yes (1) 65 AWARENESS (of MBCP) no (0) 1155 0.344 0.696 0.494 n.s. Mass media (1) 49 MMCH (source of MBCP) Other (0) 1171 0.818 0.755 1.084 n.s. Interpersonal channel (1) 7 INTERPCH (source of MBCP) Other (0) 1213 -21.253 14758.788 -0.001 n.s. 2006 (1) 600 SURVEYYEAR 2001 (0) 620 0.356 0.129 2.756 ** p value: *<0.05; ** <0.01; n.s.: not significant Journalists Semi-Structured Interviews The 33 journalists interviewed fairly represen ted countries, gender and the three ma in mass media channels (TV, radio and written press). Seventy percent were between 30 and 50 years old, 86% had a university degree, and 85% worked for a media with national coverage (Table 28).

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59 Table 2-8. Journalist demographi c characteristics (frequencies) Country El SalvadorHondurasGuatemala Total Number of journalists 10 12 11 33 Scope of action National Local 10 9 3 9 2 28 5 Education level High School University unknown 2 8 0 0 9 3 2 7 2 4 24 5 Age <30 30-39 40-50 >50 3 3 4 0 1 7 4 0 4 2 3 2 8 12 11 2 Gender Female Male 6 4 6 6 6 5 18 15 Media while attending MBCP workshops* TV Radio Written press Institutional communication offices 1 3 5 1 5 3 1 2 3 5 2 3 9 11 8 6 Includes local journalists who did not attend any workshop. One journalist worked for two media simultaneously. All participants had heard about the Projec t. Twenty seven journalists from national coverage media and one local non -Trifinio radio journalist par ticipated in MBCP workshops, attending one to nine of them. Knowledge of the Project among journalists was moderate; they were able to mention on average two out of the four MBCP con cepts. The 28 journalists that attended workshops were aware of the Project s role in biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and biological connectivity, while the fi ve that did not participate in workshops had considerably less knowledge, only linking MBCP to conservation. Each journalist that attended workshops produced one to more than 10 media products related to MBCP, totaling 89 published products: 37 TV programs, lasting two to 10 minutes for a total estimated air time of 133 minutes (Honduras 106, El Salvador 24, and Guatemala 3) ; 27 written press articles (El Salvador 12, Honduras 7, Guatemala 8); and 25 MBCP radio pr ograms representing 183 minutes of air time

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60 (El Salvador 145, Honduras 32, Guatemala 6). A Salvadoran radio journalist had a two-hour program dedicated to the Project. Seventeen interviewees rece ived positive feedback on their publications, and six got negative comments. An ample search of written press articles from the archives of MBCP regional and national offi ces, environmental ministries communication offices, main newspapers from each country, interv iewed journalists and the Internet showed that most written press products were publishe d in 2000, 2001 and 2002 (Figure 2-4). Figure 2-4. Number of MBCP written pre ss publications between years 2000 and 2007 by country. MBCP workshops were the first source of pr oject information for 27of the journalists. Three local journalists first heard about the Pr oject from newspapers and one from another project. The Internet was the primary sour ce for only one national j ournalist. The most frequently reported sources of MBCP inform ation were project workshops and documents, written press, the Internet and TV (Figure 2-5).

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61 Figure 2-5. MBCP information sources reported by journalists. Numbers on top of bars represent frequency of reported source. Twenty-five of the 33 journalists interviewed had a positive percepti on of the quality and usefulness of the information and considered Project workshops and materials as the most effective source of MBCP information. Many co mmented that workshops facilitated a better understanding of concepts by allowing exchange of opinions and interaction with peers and specialists. They particularly favored onthe-ground experiences, since several workshops included visits to natural areas. Fourteen journalists first heard about bi ological corridors from the Project. Almost half (14) of interviewed j ournalists considered the objective of promoting conservation concepts as MBCPs main strength. Other frequently mentioned strengths were the governmental support (7) and the integrative multi-national scale of the Project (6). However, most respondents (21) believe that the main weakness of the Project was its weak diffusion together with poor participatory process.

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62 When asked how the Project could have impr oved communications with journalists, many participants responded that alt hough the workshops were of high quality, they were not as frequent as desired (most were invited to one or two workshops), thus mo re direct and constant communication and use of specific channels su ch as fact sheets and electronic mail was recommended. Many mentioned that journalists are not specialized in environmental topics; most of them covered all types of news. They s uggested succinct press rele ases or frequent fact sheets should be provided as reminders of MBCPs presence that could be used any time there is space in the news media. On the question of how to improve communication with the general public, 14 respondents mentioned the need to contact media owners or editors, since they are responsible for publication. Some anecdotal examples supported this idea. In El Salvador, the participation of a reporter and he r editor in journalists workshops resulted in two issues of a magazine in a newspaper with high circulati on dedicated to MBCP and a childrens-drawing contest about biological corrido rs with a response of 89,000 pa rticipants from all over the country (El Diario de Hoy 2003); while a radio j ournalist convinced his editor to produce a 2hour weekly environmental program that lasted tw o years. One of these programs was dedicated to MBCP and it was frequently mentioned in others. In Guatemala, feedback from a newspaper journalist who attended an M BCP workshop prompted her edito r to produce two additional MBCP publications. Six journalists emphasized th e need to contact local media and community leaders and stakeholders as a way to convey in formation to community members. Two thirds favored local communication campaigns over nati onal public coverage. All respondents were supportive of protected areas a nd had favorable opinions of sustainable development and biological connectivity. Half of them heard about the MBCP journalist network, yet only seven were active participants.

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63 A content analysis was conducted on 47 mass media products that mentioned the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC); 42 of them were written press, five were transcripts from television news and one from radio news. The analysis searched for direct comments about the MBC or any of the four project concepts of protected areas, biological corridors (or connectivity), sustainable development, and bio friendly land-use practices. Out of the 47 media articles eight only made refere nce to the MBC name without de scribing the initiative or the project; 18 mentioned two concepts; 16 mentione d three concepts, and five mentioned three concepts. Protected areas was the concept mo st frequently mentioned (64%), followed by sustainable development (49%). Biological corridors were men tioned by 19% of media products, and biofriendly land-u se practices by 6% (Figure 2-6). Figure 2-6. Number of mass medi a products that mentioned th e Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and its concepts, published between 2000 and 2006. Discussion MBCP concepts were not successfully diffused among the public of Trifinio. Awareness of MBCP de creased 4% and knowledge of proj ects concepts, as measured by this study, increased 4% among residents of Trifinio, far short of the MBCPs own benchmark of 10%

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64 knowledge increase during the life of the proj ect. The small numb er of respondents who reported hearing about the Project had gains abov e 10% in knowledge and favorable perceptions of MBCP concepts, suggesting MBCP had positiv e effects once it reached community members. Moreover, respondents not exposed to MBCP that showed small average gains in knowledge and perceptions also could have obt ained their information from MBCP but failed to recall the source. However, other projects could not be ruled out as confounding sources of information (Rossi et al. 2004, Bhandari & Wagner 2006), nor whether they were influenced by MBCP, becoming change agents for MBCP (PROARCA 2002). Many conservation and sustaina ble development projects ex pect to influence human behavior by increasing the knowle dge base to address their c onservation goals. Behavioral researchers explain behavior as a result of relationships among factors such as knowledge, social and cultural norms, personal skills value-belief systems, and at titudes (Ajzen & Fishbein 1980, Ajzen 1985, Bandura 1986, Hines et al. 1987, Petty & Priester 1994, Rogers 2003, Stern 2000). Some studies have found a positive relationship between knowledge and pro-environmental attitudes (Schahn & Holzer 1990, Aipanjiguly et al. 2003). However, knowledge itself does not necessarily induce behavior; it is rather a necessary precondition that is influenced by other factors in behavior processes in general and environmental behaviors in particular (Jacobson 1999, Kaiser et al. 1999). DoI theory addresse s how knowledge change may influence behavior through time, how its delivery affects the process, and what characteristics of the innovation and society members influence its adoption. The general factors affecting the DoI process provided an ad equate theoretical framework to analyze the communication component of MBCP Biological connec tivity among protected areas as a conservation measure to attain sust ainable development was an innovative idea for

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65 Trifinio communities. However, the diffusion of MBCPs concepts did not go much beyond DoI's awareness stage. While few people knew about MBCP in 2006, a few were moving toward the perception stage with more knowledge and favorable perceptions. The use of mass media, including posters (Slater 1992), have been suggested as channels to increase knowledge and awareness among the genera l public (Rogers 2003) in bi odiversity conservation or environmental protection issues (Dietz & Nagagata 1995, Heong et al. 1998, Jacobson 1999, Ramirez & Quarry 2004). MBCP used these channels mainly in the first half of the Projects' life. The communication component was terminated af ter the funding agency's 2003 mid-term review (S. Ramirez 2004, MBCP communication officer, pe rsonal communication) pr obably resulting in the awareness reduction due to inadequate retention of th e message or insufficient message repetition (Slater 1992, Jerit et al. 2006). Rogers (2003 p. 18) suggests that interpersona l channels, such as workshops, direct contact with project personnel and word of mouth are more effective in persuading an individual to accept a new idea, especially if the interpersonal channel links two or more individuals who are similar in socioeconomic status, education, or ot her important ways. Other researchers have stressed the need of direct contact to communicate effectively w ith the public (McKenzie-Mohr & Smith 1999). The MPCP communication strate gy focused on motivating journalists through workshops to produce mass media coverage. Posters and pamphlets, which have been categorized as local mass media by some author s (Lin & Burt 1975, Heong et al. 1998), were one of many MBCP printed products reproduced on a limited basis, yet they were an important source of information only in the in itial phase of the Project. DoI studies have shown that earlier knowers, individuals who tend to acquire information about innovations faster than others, are more educated, have more access to mass media and

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66 interpersonal channels, and have more social pa rticipation than later knowers (Rogers 2003). In this study, education level and income were pos itively associated with knowledge gain and favorable environmental percepti ons, concurring with DoI and othe r behavior studies (Tichenor et al. 1970, Boahene et al. 1999, Ades ina et al. 2000, Corbett 2006). It has also been shown that people with higher formal education tend to gain more knowledge from mass media sources, depending on content and frequency of coverage (Jerit et al. 2006) Education levels in the 2006 population were lower than in 2001, yet knowledge and favorable opinions showed gains, even after controlling for education, fu rther supporting the idea that these gains were possibly due to MBCP. While the decrease in education levels between years could be related to a random sampling bias, the low-income levels in Trifin io forcing more educated people to seek job opportunities elsewhere c ould also explain it. Communication researchers have stressed the role of interpersonal communications in the flow of information from mass media to the public (Katz 1957, Valent e et al. 1996, Valente & Fosados 2006, Bulte & Joshi 2007). Journalists f unction as gate keepers who filter which information reaches the media (Singer 1998). Thus, directly communicating and motivating journalists to disseminate MBCPs concepts wa s a logical communication strategy in light of limited resources, which has been recommended and used in other conservation projects (Lanfried et al. 1995, Aipanjigul y et al. 2003). This strategy produced a reasonable amount of mass media products for MBCP, congruent with Rogers (2003) suggestion of using mass media in the knowledge-awareness stage of the diffusion process. Yet, gains in knowledge and favorable perceptions were limited. This st udy could not establish whether the mass media produced by MBCP-informed-journalists did not reach the public abundantly due to not enough communication products saturating the media space (Sherry 2002) or deficiency in attracting the

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67 attention of the public toward M BCP media products. Journalists mentioned that editors decide what is indeed published. MBCP needed to cre ate more news in addition to educate journalism about environmental topics. In addition to men tioning the name of the project, most mass media produced Field demonstrations might be more news worthy than reporting on workshops. In addition to a reduction of aw areness of the Project, Trifinio participants who had heard about MBCP and journalists who were directly exposed to project information had poor to moderate knowledge of its con cepts. The core concept of bi ological connectivity was almost unrecognized. One explanation of the limited results in Trifinio is that the national focus of MBCP also was directed to other areas in th e three countries. Although Trifinio was a MBCP priority area, it was not a national priority for Guatemala that had thre e transboundary areas (A. Diaz 2006, MBCP officer, personal communication) nor for Honduras that had four (S. Suazo 2006, MBCP officer, personal communication). Meanwhile, El Salvador concentrated its resources in its two MBCP priori ty areas, which could explain th e larger knowledge gain in 2006 of respondents from this country. However, an a ssessment of a local biologi cal corridor in Costa Rica showed similar results of poor local diffu sion of MBCP concepts (Ramos et al. 2004). Additionally, the poor descri ption of project concepts and tendency to relate MBCP mainly with protected areas by mass media could help explain the results. Protected areas were seen as exploitable natu ral resources, mainly as a touristic resource, rather than areas providing envi ronmental services. Yet, in 2006 a small difference was noted between the terms protected area and natural resource. Protected areas were perceived as producers of environmental services in addition to providing benefits related to personal wellbeing, while natural resources were more associated with business opportunities. The

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68 connection of forests with people's life quality and health has been reported in other studies (Patel et al. 1999, Hull et al. 2001). A criticism of DoI research is its bias in studying concepts known to have been successfully diffused, and its reliance on survey methods in which poor recall can lead to inaccuracies in responses about time of adoption or sources of information of innovative ideas (Rogers 2003, Meyer 2004, Larsen & Ballal 2005). This study fo cused on an innovation that was not successfully diffused, thus it adds inform ation to the analysis of factors that deter the diffusion process, such as insufficient use of locally preferred communication channels and poor distribution of printed material. Yet, the study recognized the possible effect of faulty recall. It also integrated quantitative and qualitative me thods enabling the study to better understand the context in which relationships between depende nt and independent vari ables develop (Meyer 2004). Limitations of Study This study evaluated one of 11 MBCP transna tional conservation areas, and results cannot be generalized to other areas. The scope and de sign of the 2001 survey limited the variables that could be assessed. Betw een-year comparisons of the associations between respondents economic characteristics and research variables were not possible. Conclusions and Recommendations The public communication strategy of MBCP wa s efficient in m otivating the production of mass media products, but rather ineffective in reaching Trifinio communities. Diffusion of MBCP concepts among local Trifinio communities did not create awareness of MBCP; however, Trifinio communities in 2006 were somewhat mo re knowledgeable of MBCP concepts, more supportive of protected areas and more knowledgeable of local protected areas. Community members increasing recognition of the value of environmental services and the role protected

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69 areas have in producing them is a positive sign. Although there was a significantly larger increase in knowledge and fa vorable perceptions among indivi duals reporting exposure to the Project, this should be interpreted cau tiously due to the small sample size. Conservation projects need to be efficien t in optimizing their limited resources, yet effective in reaching their objec tives. The use of national coverage mass media does not reach all niches of society at local levels. A communication strategy needs to be directed to the specific group of people where changes are expected (Slater 1992, Jacobson 1999, Jacobson et al. 2006). Conservation projects with comm unication components implemented in large geographical areas should evaluate locally preferred sources of information. Small or rural communities might have unorthodox local mass comm unication preferences that require creative use of interpersonal channels su ch as communal meetings, direct contact with local leaders, and use of local mass media such as posters and pamphlets. This study showed that Trifinio communities relied on interpersonal communication as a preferred channel of local public information and that projects pr inted material was an important source of MBCP information at the beginning of the project. Evaluation studies of best management forestry and agricultural practices concur that printed material and in-the-field extension activities are informa tion sources preferred by land user s (Kreuter et al. 2005), and demonstration sites are effective in changing perceptions and attitudes (Harmon & Jones 1997, Greiner 2003). Follow up MBCP efforts should consider local communication preferences. An alternative communication strategy to advance MBCP goals could combine the use of interpersonal channels such as field days and demonstration sites with a continued distribution of printed information. Posters (which were cited as an important MBCPs information source in 2001)

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70 placed at public sites could be a low cost channel to maintain the topic in peoples minds and reduce the possible lack of memory recall. Posters should be redesigned over time portraying new achievements and images to keep them attractive. More local wo rkshops providing project information (which were cited as a Project source of awareness by a significant proportion of respondents aware of MBCP), such as workshop s and seminars directed to government and nongovernment community leaders and stakeholders, could play a double role as a local mass media channel and as source of information for local leader s, with an additional effect of the latter as a word-of-mouth diffusion channel. Community leaders are an ade quate channel to advance the public from the awareness to th e perception stage of diffusion of innovations (Rogers 2003). Project informative meetings directed to ke y members of stakeholder groups require less economic investment than long-term mass media cam paigns and are directly controlled instead of having to rely on third parties su ch as journalists and media. More studies from other MBCP sites are needed in order to compare results among different communities. Similarly, comparison of such results with surveys from Mesoamerican capital cities and other large cities will allow Project staff and donors to further evaluate differences between national and local media. International funding agencies recognize the need to incorporate scientifically based evaluation processes throughout the lif e of a project, particularly in long-term initiatives, in order to have a sound basis for program adjustments ( UNDP 2002). Rarely are th ese evaluations part of project activities. The MBCP final report is a qualitative evaluation based only on project personnel information and a summary of outputs of accomplished activities and document production (PCCBM 2007). Formative and summativ e scientifically-bas ed evaluations will

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71 increase both implementation efficacy and economi c efficiency in reaching projects expected outcomes (Jacobson 1999, GAO 2002, UNDP 2002, Rossi et al. 2004).

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72 CHAPTER 3 DIFFUSON OF CONCEPTS OF THE MESOAMERICAN BIOLOGICA L CORRIDOR PROJECT AMONG KEY MEMBERS OF STAKEHOLDER GROUPS Introduction The Mesoamerican biological co rridor project (MBCP) is a gove rnm ental response to the growing threat of habitat fragmentation occurrin g in Mesoamerica, a global biodiversity hotspot (Myers et al. 2000). MBCP a ddressed fragmentation by promoting the implementation of biological corridors to connect protected areas, emphasizing transnational protected areas from southern Mexico to Panama (UNDP 1999). The Pr oject also endorsed the use of biofriendly land use practices such as ecotourism, sustaina ble forestry, agroforestry, agroecology, and conservation agricultural practices in the proposed corridors as the means to achieve biological connectivity between protected areas. MBCP, like many conservation and development projects, relied on increasing knowledge and awareness of its concepts to reach its goals. Similarly to other projects (Heong 1998), MBCP also used di fferent communication channels to diffuse its ideas. Communication channels can be broadly classi fied into mass communication channels, if they target unspecified and large numbers of members of a societal group, or interpersonal channels, if the information is transmitte d face-to face (Rogers 2003). Interpersonal communication is used often among members of stakeholder groups. Stakeholders are any group of people, organised or unorganised, who shar e a common interest or stake in a particular issue or system (Grimble & Wellard 1997). Communication theories co nsider that certain individuals influence the opini on of other members of their groups (Katz 1957, Rogers 2003). These individuals are regarded as opinion lead ers because other members within their group tend to follow the opinions of these leaders. So me researchers mention that opinion leaders participate in spreading mass media information to the public because they tend to be more

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73 exposed and receptive to mass media than thos e influenced by them (Katz 1957, Slater 1992, Valente & Davis 1999), while others argue that opinion leaders play a role in a specific stage of the process of diffusion of information and a doption of new concepts (Rogers 2003, Valente & Fosados 2006). Many researchers have studied the effect of opinion leaders in communication processes (Chan & Misra 1990, Valente & Davis 1999, Vale nte & Fosados 2006, Bulte & Joshi 2007). Yet, little has been mentioned about the effect s of communication channels on opinion leaders (Valente & Fosados 2006), or how they seek information (Slater 1992). However, the importance of opinion leaders in the diffusion of information, especially of new concepts, has been amply acknowledged (Val ente & Davis 1999, Rogers 2003, Valente & Fosados 2006, Bulte & Joshi 2007). Frequently, communication effort s of conservation and development projects are directed to key stakeholder members in order to influe nce their attitudes and their followers attitudes toward the issue of concern, as well as incr easing stakeholder partic ipation. Although some question the participation of lo cal stakeholders in biodiversit y projects, blamed for being detrimental to the conservation goals (Terbor gh 1999, Oates 1999, Wilshusen et al. 2002), many researchers agree that participa tion of stakeholders is essentia l to achieve the goals of any conservation or development project (Glendinn ing et al. 2001, Kalipeni & Zulu 2002, Berkes 2004, Ramrez & Quarry 2004). Conservation pr ojects affecting people locally are often designed through a top-down decision-making approach (Berkes 2004). The organizational levels where decisions are made differ from those where local changes are expected (Duffy 2005, Ramrez & Quarry 2004). However, it is diffi cult to avoid top-down processes due to the intrinsic mission of decision-making agencies at t op hierarchical levels to identify problems and

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74 propose solutions, and the complexity of gathering and incorporating opinions from multiple stakeholders (Barret et al. 2001, Michaelidou & Decker 2005 ). Projects try to overcome the topdown design approach by promoting stakeholde r participation in project implementation. Therefore, understanding how leaders of stakeholder groups are affected by the different communication channels used by projects can provide valuable knowledge to design more effective communication strate gies of conservation and development projects. The MBCP Communication Strategy MBCP was conceived by the Central Am erican Environment and Developm ent Commission (CCAD), an agency representing Mesoamerican governments, following guidelines of the United Nations funding organizations (A nkersen 1994, Garcia 1996). The Project was developed from a top-down approach, but it recognized the importance of participation of different stakeholders to reach the goal of interconnecting pr otected areas (UNDP 1999, PCCBM 2004). One of MBCPs objectives was to raise awareness among the genera l public and increase participation of stakeholders rele vant to the development of biol ogical corridors, including local and national politicians, farmers, ranchers, fore sters, conservation and community development non-government organizations (NGOs) and j ournalists, among others (UNDP 1999, PCCBM 2004). Consequently, a considerab le proportion of MBCPs efforts and resources were invested in communication (PCCBM 2007). The MBCPs communication strategy (Figure 2-2) was designed to reach the general public and relevant stakeholder groups. The project concepts were diffused among the general public by mass media channels, such as television, written press, radio, pamphlets and posters. MBCPs core concepts were related to the role of protect ed areas and biological connec tivity in development, and the sustainable use of biodiversity a nd biofriendly land-use practices to create biological corridors. In addition to a modest direct investment in ma ss media, MBCP directly contacted journalists

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75 from print and broadcast media th rough a series of workshops duri ng the first thr ee years of the Projects life, expecting that participating j ournalists would produce more MBCP-related media products stimulated by their awareness of MBCP c oncepts. Likewise, the Project diffused these concepts among members of relevant stakehol der groups through different interpersonal channels of communication. Throughout the life of the Project, between 2000 and 2006, the MBCP used interpersonal communication channels includi ng direct contact with proj ect personnel, workshops, and seminars, all directed to key members of releva nt stakeholder groups at Mesoamerican, national and local levels. Additionally, between 2000 and 2002, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Organization for Tropical Studi es (OTS) supported the MBCP with six 4-day field workshops promoting biological connectivity and the Project itself. WWF/OTS workshops were directed to top Central American decision-making leaders from non-government organizations, Central American Congresses, an d the agriculture, tourism, and mass media sectors (WWF 2003). Multinational communi cation activities were managed by MBCP headquarters in Managua, Nicara gua, while national and local country activities were coordinated by project liaison o fficers at the Environmental Mi nistries in each country. Theoretical Framework Diffusion of information through opinion leader s is a useful comm unication tactic to promote favorable attitudes toward the adopti on (or increased support) of innovative concepts among group members who follow these leader s (Chan & Misra 1990, Rogers 2003, Jacobson et al. 2006, Valente & Fosados 2006). Opinion leaders are considered to have more access to mass media information, have greater so cial participation, and have hi gher socioeconomic status than their followers (Chan & Misra 1990, Valente & Fosados 2006) and they communicate with other group members by interpersonal contact (Rogers 2003). Th e two-step-flow model of

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76 communication asserts that opinion leaders participate in massive diffusion of information (Katz 1957). Mass media information first reaches opini on leaders, who tend to be more exposed and receptive to mass media than those influenced by them; then opinion leaders spread the information among their followers by interp ersonal communication (Slater 1992, Valente & Fosados 2006). This model has been criticized for being too simplistic in explaining the flow of communication, and not taking into account the function of differe nt communication channels at different stages in the process of adopting an innovative concept (Rogers 2003 p. 305). The theory of diffusion of innovation (DoI) argues that mass media is more effective in making the public aware of an innovation; wh ile interpersonal cha nnels have a stronger effect persuading followers of leaders to form fa vorable attitudes toward the adoption of the new concept after an initial awareness stage in the diffusion process (Rogers 2003) Three simplified stages of the diffusion of innovations process can be recognized (Lin & Bu rt 1975, Nilakanta & Scamell 1990, Rai 1995, Hubbard & Hayashi 2003): acquiring know ledge and becoming aware of the new concepts (knowledge-awareness stage), followed by the formation of perceptions and attitude toward the concepts (perception-attitude stage) ending with the adopti on or rejection of the proposed innovations (adoption-implementation stage) Studies considering the two-step model and DoI simultaneously have substantiated that opinion leaders effectively exchange information with others leaders and followe rs by interpersonal forms of communication (Valente & Davis 1999, Valente & Fosados 2006), regardless of the stage of the diffusion process and the source from which opinion leaders obtained information. Recent studies recognize advantages in the integration of mass media and in terpersonal channels in the diffusion of innovative concepts (Valente & Fosados 2006, Bulte & Joshi 2007).

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77 Opinion leaders vary in how actively they s eek information from the media (Slater 1992), and opinion leadership studies tend to consid er mass media as leaders main source of information (Katz 1957, Valente & Davis 1999, C oulter et al 2002, Valente & Fosados 2006, Bulte & Joshi 2007). Few of these studies note th at opinion leaders also can obtain information from other channels (Katz 1957, Coulter et al 200 2, Valente & Fosados 2006). To maximize the impact of limited resources, projects commonly select the audiences they will address among relevant stakeholder groups, and direct their communication effort s to influence key members of such groups. Understanding how projects communication processes affect knowledge, perceptions and attitudes of thos e stakeholder leaders toward issu es of concern is essential to assess the effectiveness of delivery channels, whether information is reaching the intended stakeholders, and how projects ac tions and benefits are perceived. The goal of this study was to assess MBCPs stakeholder communication stra tegy and provide useful analysis of how communication channels affect opinion leader s to improve the design of communication strategies in future conserva tion and development projects. Study Hypotheses The objective of this study was to evaluate the ef fects of MBCP communication channels on knowledge and attitudes of MBCP concepts among opinion leaders of stakeholder groups relevant to the implementation of biological corridors. DoI generalizes that communication channels have different effect s on potential adopters dependi ng on their stage of the diffusion process (Rogers 2003). Opinion leaders become aw are of issues of concern from a variety of sources as any other member of a stakeholder gr oup, but they also could be affected differently by diverse channels. The two-step-flow communi cation model states that mass media will affect opinion leaders first and they will transmit that information and have an influence on followers by interpersonal exchange of in formation (Katz 1957). However, little is mentioned in the

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78 literature about how leaders are affected by diffe rent sources of information (Coulter et al 2002, Valente & Fosados 2006). This study addr esses three hypotheses: (1) mass media and interpersonal communication channels have different effects on opinion l eaders knowledge of MBCP concepts and attitudes toward them; (2) opinion leaders have different preferences for MBCP sources of information, and (3) becaus e of MBCPs top-down design, diffusion stages among members of stakeholder groups closer to the projects deci sion hierarchies at the national level will differ from those from local groups. Methods Study Site MBCP identified 11 m ultinational sites of c onservation relevance in Mesoamerica (CCAD 1992) where project activities were focused (UNDP 1999). These sites contained protected remnants of natural ecosystems th at extended beyond the borders of two or three countries. To capture variability of opinions of the multi-nationality of MBCP, I interviewed representatives of stakeholders from the capital cities of the Meso american countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and from municipalities in Trifin io, one of the three MBCP priority areas involving three countries. Trifinio is a 7,584 km2 area centered by the cloud forest of Montecristo Massif where the geopolitical border s of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras meet (Lopez et al 2004). Each country has declar ed its side of Montecris to Massif as a protected area, accounting for an approximate total of 700 km2 of trinational protected territory (Herrera & Diaz 2005). The Massif contains about 120 km2 of cloud forest, surroun ded in the lower lands by mixed forest formations of pine, oak, liquida mbar, tropical dry forest, and subtropical humid forest; most of these habitats are threatened by fragmentation (OAS 1994). Trifinio has 88 inhabitants per square kilometer. About 53% of the population lives in extreme poverty, relying on the use of natural resources, wh ich are concentrated in the 18% of Trifinios territory with

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79 remaining forest cover. These conditions have attracted abundant politi cal attention from the correspondent governments and international organi zations directed to community development, conservation and regional integrati on processes (Lopez et al. 2004). Stakeholder Analysis To evaluate the effect of the MBCP comm unication channels on stakeholders knowledge and attitudes of MBCP concepts, I employed a qua litative research appr oach (Bernard 2002). Qualitative m ethods have been suggested to help in DoI research to better understand the extent and nature of communication with key potential adopters of innova tions, such as opinion leaders, by identifying critical events during the diffusion process that could m odulate it (Meyer 2004). I conducted semi-structured interviews with 98 memb ers of three stakeholder groups, in order to understand the interactions betw een communication channels a nd respondents opinions. I interviewed three particularly relevant stakeholder groups to evaluate MBCP: (1) politicians, because of their role in government policies aff ecting biological connectiv ity; (2) leaders of landuse associations (farmers, ranchers, forester s and conservation and community development NGOs), because they make decisions regarding land use changes potentially connecting land between protected areas; and (3) journalists, becau se of their role in public diffusion of MBCP. The semi-structured interviews followed a 15-que stion discussion guide searching for knowledge of MBC concepts, communication channels fr om which they received MBCP information, opinions on how to improve the MBCP commun ication processes, and attitudes toward biological corridors and sustaina ble land use practices favoring connectivity (Appendix B). To avoid socially desirable answers (Bernard 2002, Fowler 2002) to opini on items about MBCPs concepts, I asked balanced questions by mentioni ng that in spite of MBCP support, there where people from different stakeholde r groups and scholars who favored these concepts and others that did not. Knowledge of MBCP concepts was measured by a qualitative scale of no

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80 knowledge, poor, moderate, very good and excel lent, depending on whether respondents mentioned none, one, two, three or four MBCP c oncepts, respectively, throughout the interview. These concepts were: (1) natural protected ar eas contribute to deve lopment; (2) biological connectivity among natural areas enhances envi ronmental services; (3 ) sustainable use of biodiversity and (4) adoption of biofriendly land-use practices between protected areas creates biological corridors. To obtain my sample of respondents, I contac ted persons that had pa rticipated in MBCP workshops, or were in institutional positions id entified by MBCP as involved in the project. They were selected from lists of participants at MBCP meetings directed to specific stakeholders, boards of directors of land-use associations and NGOs, congresspersons that participated in Congressional environment comm issions during the life of MBCP local government authorities from MBCP priority sites, and protected area gov ernment officers. Although I made an attempt to contact all persons in works hops participant lists, contact information of some journalists was obsolete. I selected additional local journalists by snowball sa mpling (Bernard 2002). At least 30 interviews were held in each country among a minimum of 10 land users, 10 politicians and 10 journalists. Participants in this study we re linked to stakeholder groups of national and local scopes. At the national level, I interviewed stakeholder members in the capital cities of San Salvador (El Salvador), Tegucigalpa (Honduras) and Guatemal a City. I interviewe d National Assembly legislators those who partic ipated in WWF/OTS workshops or other members of the Environment Committee, members of land-use asso ciations with national geographical scopes, and national natural resources officers. At the local level, I interviewed leaders of Trifinio communities among politicians from the Munici pal Councils, natura l resource government

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81 officers, members of the Trifinio authority3, and members of local land-use associations (Appendix C). Local participants were from the following Trifinio cities: El Salvador: Chalatenango, La Palma, Metapn, and San Igna cio; Honduras: Nuevo Ocotepeque, San Marcos Ocotepeque, Santa Rosa de C opan, Santa Fe Ocotepeque a nd San Francisco del Valle; Guatemala: Esquipulas and Concepcin Las Mi nas. Interviews were recorded (with interviewees permission) and supplemented with written notes. Additionally, I reviewed 53 government policy documents (including official policies, laws, and government agencies institutional guidelines and annua l reports), and 42 written pr ess articles to understand the context of the results of the interviews. I used descriptive statistics such as freque ncies and proportions to compare variables among stakeholder groups and location. A lthough this study relied on convenience (nonrandom) samples, I conducted Pearsons Chi-squa re or Fishers exac t test (p<0.05) on all reported comparisons among variables to appraise the significance of differences. I used SPSS 16.0 (2007) for contingency tables with five or mo re expected frequencies in each cell or 2 x 2 tables, and Tables, a statistical progra m available online by Quantitative Skills ( www.quantitativeskills.com), for larger tables with less than fi ve expected frequencies in any cell. I cited some respondents comments with their permission. Other pertinent comments were quoted without citing the aut hor to respect anonymity. Results Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Respondents Participants in this study were evenly dist ributed with about a third of them from each country and stakeholder group; 56 re presented groups of national scope based in the capital cities 3 There is a trinational Trifinio govern ment agency with official s appointed by each country. This agency is in charge of coordinating conservation and development programs in Trifinio, and is referr ed to as Plan Trifinio.

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82 and 42 were from local groups at Trifinio communities. Most respondents had obtained a university degree (73) or completed high school (18). There were 71 males respondents. Among the 27 female respondents, 22 had a university degree and five had only completed high school. Respondents from national groups had higher educationa l levels than locals (Table 3-1). There were no salient differences in dependent variables among respondents when compared by country; thus, only comparisons by location and stakeholder groups are presented. Table 3-1. Socio-demographic data of respondents (a) Socio-demographic data of respondents by stakeholder group Variable Journalists Land Users Politicians Total Stats (p<0.05) National 28 12 16 56 Stakeholder location Local 5 19 18 42 X2 2=16.06 Female 18 4 5 27 Gender Male 15 27 29 71 X2 2=18.19 < High school 0 4 3 7 High School 7 4 7 18 Education University 26 23 24 73 ns Countrya El Salvador 10(0) 11(5) 12(6) 33(11) Guatemala 11(2) 10(8) 11(5) 32(15) Honduras 12(3) 10(6) 11(7) 33(16) ns Totalb 33 31 34 98 (b) Socio-demographic data of respondents by stakeholder location Variable National Local Total Stats (p<0.05) Female 20 7 27 Gender Male 36 35 71 X2=4.36 < High school 0 7 7 High School 7 11 18 Education University 49 24 73 Fishers Totalb 56 42 98 (c) Socio-demographic data of respondents by country Variable El Salvador Guat emala Honduras Total Stats National 22 17 17 56 Stakeholder location Local 11 15 16 42 ns Female 7 11 9 27 Gender Male 26 21 24 71 ns < High school 0 2 5 7 High School 8 7 3 18 Education University 25 23 25 73 ns Totalb 33 32 33 98 a Numbers in parenthesis represent Trifinio participants by country (Fishers p>0.05) b Totals are the same for each variable; ns = not significant

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83 Knowledge of MBCP Concepts Most respondents (84) had heard about MBCP All 14 respondents th at had not heard of the Project were local and repres ented a third of Trifinio responde nts. The average knowledge of the four MBCP concepts was 1.64 (SD=0.91). Know ledge of MBCP concepts was none to poor among 54 re spondents, and moderate to excellent among 44 respondents. More respondents of national stakeholder groups (57%) mentioned two or more MBCP c oncepts than those from local groups (29%) (Table 3-2). Knowledge was slightly correlated to education (Spearmans Rho=0.257, p=0.02) independently of stakeholder type and location. Table 3-2. Knowledge of MBCP concep ts by stakeholder group and location Stakeholder groups Stakeholders' location Item Response n JrnLUPol Stat (p<0.05) National Local Stats (p<0.05) Yes 84 33 23 28 56 28 Have you heard about MBCP? No 14 0 8 6 Fisher's 0 14 Fisher's No knowledge 19 0 19 Poor 1 concept 35 24 11 Moderate 2 co. 31 21 10 Very good 3 co. 10 9 1 Knowledge of MBCP concepts Excellent 4 co. 3 ns 2 1 Fisher's 0 1 54 24 30 Knowledge of MBCP concepts 2 4 44 ns 32 12 X2= 7.92 Totala 98 33 3134 56 42 Abbreviations: n = frequency; Jrn = Journalists; LU = La nd Users; Pol = Politicians; co. = concepts; ns = not significant a Totals are the same for each item MBCP was linked most frequently to the c oncept of protected areas, mentioned by 76 respondents, followed by sustainable use of natu ral resources (30) and biological connectivity (28). At least 23 participants commented that th ey first heard about biol ogical connectivity from MBCP. The connection between MBCP and the use of nature-friendly land use practices was only established by five respondents. There were no differences among responses of concepts

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84 compared by location or stakeholders, except for protected areas, mentioned by 98% national and 50% local respondents; and biological c onnectivity, which was mentioned by 39% national respondents but only by 14% local re spondents (Table 3-3). Six respondents from Trifinio said they had heard the Projects name, but had no knowledge of its concepts. Table 3-3. Reported MBCPs concepts by location Concept National (56)Local (42)TotalStata (p<0.05) Protected areas 55 21 76 X2=32.05 Biological connectivity 22 6 28 X2=7.35 Sustainable use of biodiversity 21 9 30 ns Biofriendly land-use practices 3 2 5 ns aChi square tests for 2 x 2 tables between stakeholders location and respondents knowledge of each MBCP concept ns = not significant Perceptions and Attitudes towa rd MBCP Concepts All respondents had a positive attitude toward protected areas; most of them mentioned that protected areas should be a national priority but most include local participation and distribution of benefits. Water availability was frequently associ ated with protected areas, while ecotourism often was expressed as a sustainable option to obtain economic benefits from them. A local government officer captured these opinions when commenting: Protected areas are of great importance becau se they represent the little [of nature] we have left. We have to maintain them not just to look at them, but to use them sustainably. People must be given alternatives to keep those areas. What we have there is life. Recently, municipalities are paying more atte ntion to protected areas because of the scarcity of water. A national land user, when asked whether protected areas participated in the countrys development, noted: Obviously. They [protected areas] provide many things: conservation of water sources, archeological sites, fauna, flora, and soil conservation, air purification and oxygen. They also contribute to touristic development, creation of job sources, timber and non-timber products which are sources of income to loca l people. I believe protected areas and the adequate management of natural resources w ith social participation can generate more wealth than traditional agriculture.

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85 Yet, other respondents did not believe protected areas particip ated in the development of the country; one because they are only beneficial to the animals and plants that live there, and the other one because we dont have adequate technology to extract their benefits, in reference to timber and non-timber forest products. These two respondents were highly educated members of local and national stakeholder groups land users and politicians, respectively of strong influence in the correspondi ng decision making processes. Similarly, the concept of biological connectivity was favored by the majority, except three respondents. When I mentioned that scientists rec ognized advantages and disadvantages of biological corridors as a conservation tool, th e notion that Central America was a natural connection between the continents and wildlife movements were n eeded to maintain ecological functions of protected areas pr evailed over the possible disadvant ages of biological corridors among most respondents. However, there was more discrepancy of opinions about the feasibility of bio-friendly land-use practi ces. While 69 respondents believed practices such as forestry, agroforestry, best-management conservation practices for agriculture, a nd ecotourism were both socially and economically feasible,12 responde nts thought such practices were economically sound but had social limitations related to low educational levels and prevailing ways of agricultural practices ; eight respondents believed bio-friend ly land-use practices were neither socially nor economically feasible, and five respondents thought they were socially viable but could not compete in current non-sustainable markets. Sources of MBCP Information Sixty four respondents first heard about MBCP from interpersonal channels, of which 73% were national and 27% were lo cal. Of the 64 respondents 27 were journalists; 22, politicians, and 15, land users. Throughout th e life of the Project, most re spondents (58) received MBCP

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86 information from interpersonal channels and ma ss media, 17 from interpersonal channels only and nine received information fr om mass media only (Figure 3-1). Figure 3-1. Reported sources of MBCP info rmation throughout the life of the project Numbers on top of bars represent the number of re spondents receiving information from corresponding sources. Although many respondents recalled some MBCP media products, very few could provide the actual source. A common remark was I think I heard on TV/radio or I think I read it in a newspaper, without providing the name of the source or context of the information. However, most of those who mentioned an interpersonal channel provided an am ple description of the event, including when and where it took place. MBCP interpersonal channels, such as workshops, seminars, and contact with project pe rsonnel, were the most frequently cited source of information (52), followed by MBCP documents (50) and written press articles (48). MBCP documents were mainly distributed during MBCP meetings, but were also publicly available by Internet and in libraries of environmental government offices. Eight respondents obtained MBCP documents from other sources than proj ect workshops. In general, respondents had a

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87 very good impression of the quality of the inform ation in MBCP documents, particularly of maps, which were regarded as simple, clear and informative. When asked about how MBCP could improve communication with stakeholder groups, 65 respondents mentioned that dir ect contact with them or th eir groups by means of more workshops or project personnel was best; seven pref erred a written or other specialized channel, such as printed or digital documents, designe d to meet the stakeholder groups needs and knowledge levels. Only 59 respondents offere d an opinion about how to improve MBCP communication with the public ; 33 of them favored addressing the local public of priority sites, rather than massive national campaigns, due to th e lack of local actions implementing biological connectivity. Journalists all from national media (24) preferred media campaigns, but six suggested local personal contac t; land users and politicians favored personal communication with local stakeholders with no differences between national and lo cal groups, although locals were less likely to provide an opinion (Table 3-4).

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88 Table 3-4. Sources of informati on by stakeholder group and location Stakeholder groups Stakeholders' location Item Response n Jrn LU Pol Stats (p<0.05) National Local Stats (p<0.05) Have not heard about MBCP 14 0 8 6 0 14 MBCP Interpersonal Channels 43 26 8 9 37 6 Non-MBCP Interper. Chann. 21 1 7 13 10 11 Mass media 18 6 6 6 Fisher'sa 8 10 How did you first hear about MBC Don't know, Don't remember 2 0 2 0 1 1 Fisher's MBCP Workshops 52 28 12 12 X2 2=20.3 44 8 X2=34.1 Non-MBCP Meetings 27 3 12 12 X2 2=8.9 10 17 X2=6.2 Word of Mouth 22 6 7 9 ns 18 4 X2=7.1 MBCP Documents 50 28 10 12 X2 2=22.8 40 10 X2=21.8 Written press 48 19 14 15 ns 30 18 Ns Internet 19 15 1 3 X2 2=22 17 2 X2=10.1 TV 17 11 2 4 X2 2=9.2 10 7 Ns Reported sources of MBCP information Radio 11 7 2 2 ns 7 4 Ns Personal communication with respondents or their stakeholders 65 21 20 24 44 21 Specialized material directed to stakeholders 7 6 0 1 6 1 Respondents opinion on how can MBCP improve communication with them Other, no opinion 26 6 11 9 Fisher's 6 20 Fisher's Personal communication with local stakeholders 26 2 10 14 16 10 Mass media/Public campaigns 26 20 1 6 25 2 Personal contact and mass media 7 4 2 1 5 2 Respondents opinion on how can MBCP improve communication with the public No opinion 39 7 18 13 Fisher's 10 28 Fisher's Totalb 98 33 31 34 56 42 Abbreviations: n = frequency; Jrn = Journalists; LU = La nd Users; Pol = Politicians; co. = concepts; ns = not significant aFisher's Exact test on a 3 x 3 table between first MBCP source and stakeholder group, excluding data from "have not heard" and "don't know" responses. b Totals are the same for each item Associations between Communication Channels, Knowledge and Opinions The effects of communi cation channels on knowledge and opinions were analyzed among the 84 respondents who had heard about MBCP. Of the 44 respondents with moderate to excellent knowledge of MBCP concepts, 87% obta ined project information from interpersonal channels and mass media, 9% from interpersonal channels only, and 5% from mass media only. When these more knowledgeable respondents were asked about which channel they considered

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89 most effective in providing them MBCP info rmation, 50% reported an interpersonal channel; 36% mentioned a mass media channel, a nd 14% had no opinion (Table 3-5). Table 3-5. Associations between MBCP knowledge and communication channels Knowledge of MBCP concepts Item Response 0 1 2 4 Total Stats (p<0.05) Mass Media only 8 1 9 Interpersonal Channels only 13 4 17 Sources of MBCP Information Interpersonal Channels and Mass media 19 39 58 Fishers Interpersonal channels 9 22 31 Mass media 11 16 27 Reported most effective channel Don't know, no opinion 20 6 26 X2 2= 13.76 Total 40 44 84 There were no associations between communication channels and opinions among stakeholder groups or location. However, wo rkshops with field experience were highly appreciated because of the po ssible interaction with presenters and the hands-on learning opportunity. One respondent noted: If I have a written document, I can take it home and read it later, but if I do it with my hands, I wont forget it. Reported Behaviors Favoring MBCP Answers to the inquiry of whether responde nts had engaged in activities that could advance the im plementation of biological corridor s were clustered in three categories, according to their self-reported behaviors: diffusion of MBCP, participation in the development of related environmental government laws or policies, and use of bio-friendly land use practices, such as private natural reserves, sustainable forestry a nd agroforestry. More th an half of respondents (53) reported engaging in activities promo ting MBCP implementation; 70% from national groups. Journalists participated in diffusion, and land users mainly participated in bio-friendly land use practices; yet, only half of politicians (10) reporting a behavior engaged in developing environmental policies, while seven mainly local politicians (5) participated in bio-friendly

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90 land use practices. Sixty-two percent of local re spondents (10/16) engaged in land use activities, while only 22% of respondents from national groups (8/37) reporte d this behavior. (Table 3-6). Table 3-6. Self-reported behavi ors after knowing about MBCP Stakeholder group Stakeholder location Behaviors Journalists Land Users Politicians Total Stats (p<0.05) Diffusion of MBCP 18 0 1 19 Engaged in biofriendly land use practices 0 6 2 8 Environmental Laws and policies 0 1 9 10 National Sub-total 18712 37 Fishers Diffusion of MBCP 3 2 5 Engaged in biofriendly land use practices 5 5 10 Environmental Laws and policies 0 1 1 Local* Sub-total 88 16 ns Total 0 1520 53 Fishers *All implicit contingency tables (Behaviors x Stakeholders; Behaviors x Location; Location x Stakeholders; and Nationals Behaviors x Stakeholders) are significant for Fishers Exact Test at the level p<0.05, except for Local x Stakeholders Overall reported behaviors were not associat ed with type or amount of sources of MBCP information, but more knowledgeable respondents engaged in more behaviors favorable for MBCP implementation. Of the 53 respondents w ho reported an MBCP-related behavior, 70% had knowledge of two or more MBCP concepts (X2=17.49, p<0.05). Document Review Analysis of documents helped to corroborate so m e of the reported behaviors. A number of government policy documents included MBCP con cepts. The degree of incorporation of MBC concepts into policy documents varied signi ficantly among the three countries. Guatemala presented more government documents promoti ng the implementation of MBC or biological connectivity. These concepts were expressed in at least five Guatem alan legally binding

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91 instruments, of which the Protected Areas Act (IDEADS 2003) has greate r potential to further MBC implementation. The other laws are minister ial agreements facilitating administrative and operational procedures related to the MBC initiative (Diario de CA 2002, 2003, MARN[gt] 2003, 2006). Additionally, MBC concepts were mentioned in several Guatemalan policy documents (CONAP 1999, Secaira 1999, INAB 2003, Molina & Beavers 2004, Anzuelo & Perez 2005) and official government repor ts (PNUMA 2003, CONAP 2005, Escobedo 2005, MARN[gt] 2005). By 2006, Guatemala was the onl y country that had allocated government funds (about US$65,000 which represented about 1% of the Environmental Ministrys budget) specifically tagged for MBC implementation (MFP 2006). El Salvador also has incorpor ated MBC concepts in its rece ntly modified Protected Area Act (MARN[sv] 2005a), in policy documents and operational guidelines of the Environmental Ministry (MARN[sv] 2003, 2004a, b, 2005b), and in official government reports (MARN[sv] 2001a, b, MARN[sv] 2005c, Mendoza 2006). MBC concepts were only found in one Honduran forestry policy document (AFH 2004) and two o fficial government reports (Blas-Zapata 2005, SERNA 2005). This study only reviewed documents published between 2000 and 2006. Honduras approved a new Forestry, Protected Areas and Wildlif e Law in September 2007, which includes biological connectivity concepts and promotes biologi cal corridors (Congreso de la Repblica de Honduras 2007). Fifty one printed mass media articles re lated to MBCP, published between 2000 and 2007 (Figure 2-4), were reviewed; 21 were written by journalists from El Salvador, 20 from Honduras and 10 from Guatemala. All artic les were published in national or international written media. Collected material varied in content; some were news (in reference to MBCP activities such as the field workshops), others expressed editorial opinion or captured stakeholders position in

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92 favor or criticizing the project, and a few described the MBC initiative or priority sites where biological corridors where implemen ted. Interviewed journalists pr oduced most of these articles and other media products (see Chapter 2). No land-use groups documents, such as associ ation and NGOs statutes, that incorporated MBCP concepts were found or mentioned by respondents. Discussion Most respondents were aware of MBCP, but th ey could only reme mber one or two of the four project concepts. Knowledge was higher among respondents of natio nal groups than local ones, which could be explained by higher educ ational levels among national respondents, as predicted by DoI. Knowledge-education correlat ion was significant but low. MBCPs top-down design can further explain higher knowledge amo ng national respondents. The flow of MBCP information went from a regional official enti ty, CCAD, to each countrys government, to other national government offices and st akeholders, to municipal authorities and finally to local stakeholders. Almost in every step, informa tion was delivered to a government representative who was expected to diffuse the information to stakeholder groups rela ted to the corresponding hierarchical decision-making level. Information was always linked to the origin of the top-down process. Respondents closer to the origin, national groups, could have had more access or exposure opportunities to project information via more workshops, more exposure to the media, and easier access to project personnel. The proxim ity of national groups to the Project due to the top-down design of MBCP could have played a stronger role in knowledge gain, making the difference in educational levels ju st a demographic consequence. MBCP was mainly perceived as a project related to protected areas conservation, but very few related the Project to land-use changes outside protected area s as a beneficial process for national development. Even though MBCP in troduced the biological connectivity concept

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93 among many respondents, knowledge of this core concept was least common at the local level where corridors are to be implemented. It was not possible to differen tiate the effect of different channels on knowledge, since most respondents reported hearing about MBCP from both interpersonal channels and mass media. Access to both types of channels was significantly associated with more knowledge compared to either channel independently. Nevertheless, respondents had better recollection of interpersonal channels than mass media. It is possible that those stakeh older members who were reached by interpersonal channels were more receptive to the media since the majority first heard about MBCP from interpersonal channels. It ha s been documented that opinion leaders are more receptive to mass media (Katz 1957, Rogers 2003, Valente & Fosados 2006) than the people they influence. Additionally, most respondent s preferred interpersonal channels over mass media as a way of receiving project informa tion or improving communication with them. Interpersonal channels were even suggested as a way to improve commu nication with the local public. There is an increasing recognition of the ro le of interpersonal communication between opinion leaders and their followers as a crucial channel to pr omote environmental behaviors (McKenzie-Mohr & Smith 1999, Jacobson et al. 2006). The use of opinion leaders has been recognized as capable of accelerating the diffusi on of innovations when incorporated into communication strategies (Valente & Davis 1999). Interpersonal ch annels have been successful in increasing the adoption of desi red behaviors, such as safer se x practices in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (Valente & Fosado s 2006). Opinion leaders are known to diffuse information obtained from mass media source s by personally communicating with their followers (Katz 1957, Valente & Fosados 2006). Opinion leaders are re cognized to actively

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94 exchange information also with leaders of other groups (Burt 1999, Coulter et al. 2002, Bulte & Joshi 2007). The magnitude of the importance of interpers onal channels for MBCP was captured in the comments of Juan Carlos Montufar, the Technica l Director of Plan Trifinio, a multinational government agency, who mentioned: The conversations and work with MBCP pe rsonnel introduced the concept of biological connectivity to Plan Trifinio. From th ere on, we recognized the importance of the ecosystems surrounding the cloud forest of Mont ecristo mastiff and expanded our view. All other protected areas proposals comi ng out of Plan Trifinio include the interconnectivity among Tr ifinio ecosystems. Additionally, workshops coordinate d by Plan Trifinio were freque ntly reported as the local non-MBCP source of information about the Project. Most respondents displayed evidence of positive attitudes toward MBCP concepts, but the study could not detect whether att itudes were an effect of the Pr oject or of other sources of information, or whether respondents were respondi ng with socially accepta ble answers (Peterson 2000, Fowler 2002). The very few respondents that did not support protected areas or biological connectivity were influential stakeholder members within their groups with high educational levels that could have a strong im pact on decision making processes. They did not perceive that protected areas provided benefits to humans and did not believe in the sustainability of biofriendly land-use practices. These influential opinion leaders could re duce support to implement biological corridors. Although the ultimate behavior to evalua te the success of MBCP should be the implementation of functional biological corrido rs, there were reporte d behaviors corresponding to some expected project outcomes, such as mass media products produced by journalists attending workshops and incorporation of MB CP concepts in prot ected area government policies. Adoption rates of MBCP concepts were not associated with sources of MBCP

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95 information or stakeholder, but they showed an association with knowledge and location of groups. MBCP affected more national stakeholde rs whose decisions may take longer to make changes in the field. This was supported by th e policy documents of national government offices that included MBCP concepts and the lack of similar municipal documents, while land-usechange related behaviors the actual implementation of biolog ical connectors were more frequently reported among local respondents regardless of thei r stakeholder group. Even though policies could be interpreted as a collective expression of intentions of behavior (Ajzen 1985) of society, law and policy enforcement in Latin America is weak (Blundell & Gullison 2003), limiting the occurrence of behaviors in the field. Lo cal participants relate themselves more with the community as a whole than with specific stakeholder groups. Most local politicians were land users as well. Similarly, MBCP affected more journalists from national coverage media than local media. MPCP offices were located at the capital cities, same as national groups. The proximity of MBCP staff to national stakeholders might have prevented a higher adoption rate of landuse practices at the local level, slowing the implementation of biological corridors in the field. Journalists in this study received more inform ation from interpersonal channels than from the media in spite of their obvious relationship. It is arguable whether journalists have a leadership role in decision processes of other stakeholder groups (Je nkins 1978, Kaiser et al. 1999, Jepson & Whitaker 2002) or whether they only play a role as gatekeepers of information for mass media (McCraken 1986, Singer 1998), but pa rticipation of journalists in any mass communication process is needed when funds are limited. MBCP could have gained from focusing journalist workshops on me dia editors and owners (see Ch apter 2), especially during the first workshops, since that could have increased the rate of diffusion among field journalists,

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96 expanding coverage. Additionally, local journalists may be more likely to be recognized as opinion leaders by the comm unity than journalist from nationa l media, because they may be members of different local stakeholder groups. The more knowledgeable leaders engaged in behaviors promoting the implementation of biological corridors, like project diffusion, de velopment of policies promoting biological corridors, and biofriendly land use practices. A lthough the role of biologi cal connectivity as a conservation tool was poorly assimilated, many opi nion leaders perceived th at implementation of MBCPs concepts could augment environmental se rvices provided by natural areas. However, MBCP had a stronger effect on the rate of a doption among national stak eholder groups, which could be the result of the top-down design approach. Many opinion leaders suggested that MBCP should have focused diffusion first on loca l stakeholders to promote land-use change behaviors, which were only reported at the local le vel. It is difficult to break the tendency for a top-down design approach in conservation and deve lopment projects (Barret et al. 2001, Kalipeni & Zulu 2002, Michaelidou & Decker 2005). However, by starting communication activities at the local level, more biological corridors coul d have been established and MBCP could have capitalized the power of field experiences. It would also imply a more participatory approach, allowing for corrections in project design in the be ginning stages of the project. Projects should focus on key local and national l eaders that could highly impact decision-making processes. Limitations of Study This study was limited by the selective or conv enience sam pling process, which relied on respondents adequately representing stakeholder groups and locations. Results of this study were limited to the respondents from communitie s of Trifinio and the capital cities of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

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97 Conclusions and Recommendations The MBCP communication strategy in El Salv ador, Guatemala and Honduras was poorly to m oderately effective in diffusing project concep ts. Interpersonal channels were considered by leaders as more effective in providing MBCP information than mass media and could have prompted them to be more recep tive of mass media. Interpers onal channels were highly valued by politicians and land users, and even some j ournalists preferred interpersonal channels to diffuse MBCP information. Similar studies should be conducted in other MBCP priority areas and Mesoamerican countries to extend the impact evaluation to the entire geographical scope of the project. The discussion about top-down versus bottom-up conservation and development processes has not reached consensus yet (Wolmer 2003). Eith er approach is likely to exclude relevant stakeholders, or to overor under-emphasize the cap abilities of institutions at either end, risking programs success (Barrett et al. 2001). This st udy showed that while MBCP had an impact on top government institutions which incorporated biological connectivity in natural area policies, some members of local groups reported engagi ng in land-use practices that could create biological corridors, even when municipal au thorities had not incorporated biological connectivity into local land-use policies. Inco rporating bottom-up and top-down activities from the early stages of the project could help accelerate the diffusion of conservation and development ideas by working from both ends. Qualitative research provides contextual mean ing to responses to questions in a survey (Bernard 2002). This study provided understa nding of opinion leaders preferences of communication channels and a methodological approach to qualitative evaluation of project impacts. Future continuity of MBCP and ot her conservation and deve lopment projects can

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98 benefit from the information provided by this study in the design and implementation of communication strategies.

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99 CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The summative evaluation of MBCP conducted by the funding organizations substantiated that the communication strategy produced abundant and varied ma terial to deliver project information to the projects target audi ences (PCCBM 2007). Yet the absence of a methodological evaluation proce ss in the project design, impede d evaluators to assess beyond activity performance and perceptions of accomp lishments among persons closely related to MBCP. This study assessed outcomes expected by the designers of the Project, corresponding to communication impacts on the public and relevant stakeholders. The theory of diffusion of innovations provided a useful framework to evaluate the MBCP communication strategy by analyzing the effects of different communication channels on the diffusion of MBCP concepts during different st ages of the diffusion process. The public communication strategy of MBCP was efficien t in motivating the pr oduction of mass media products, but ineffective in reaching the local pub lic, since the rate of public awareness of the Project in a priority area was negative. However, contact with MBCP was associated with knowledge gain of its concepts among locals. Trifinio communities were more supportive of protected areas and more knowledgeable of local protected areas, although it was not possible to measure whether gain in knowledge and favorable perceptions was an impact of MBCP or other sources of similar information. This study showed that interpersonal channe ls of communication were preferred by the public of local communities and opinion leaders of relevant stakeholder groups, and that the projects printed material was an important source of MBCP information. Evaluation studies of best management forestry and agri cultural practices concur that printed material and in-the-field extension activities are informa tion sources preferred by land user s (Kreuter et al. 2005), and

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100 demonstration sites are effective in changing perceptions and attitudes (Harmon & Jones 1997, Greiner 2003). Conservation projects need to be effici ent in optimizing their limited resources, yet effective in reaching their objec tives. The use of national coverage mass media does not reach all niches of society at local levels. A communication strategy needs to be directed to the specific group of people where changes are expected (Slater 1992, Jacobson 1999, Jacobson et al. 2006). Conservation projects with comm unication components implemented in large geographical areas should evaluate locally preferred sources of information. Small or rural communities might have unorthodox local mass co mmunication preferences that require a creative use of interpersonal ch annels such as communal meeti ngs, direct contact with local leaders, and use of local mass media such as posters and pamphlets. There is no such thing as the general pub lic (Jacobson 1999). Follow up MBCP efforts, and conservation projects in general should iden tify key target audiences and consider their preferences of communication channels. An alternative communication strategy to advance MBCP goals could combine the use of interp ersonal channels such as field days and demonstration sites with a contin ued distribution of prin ted information. Posters placed at public sites could be a low cost channel to maintain the topic in peoples minds and reduce the possible lack of memory recall. Many opinion leaders remembered maps better than other printed material. Posters should be re designed over time portraying ne w achievements and images, to keep them attractive. More local meetings, such as workshops and seminars, directed to government and non-government community leaders and stakeholders coul d play a double role of informing part of the local public and as a source of information for local leaders, who by means of word-of-mouth could increase the diffu sion rate. Community leaders are an adequate

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101 channel to advance the public from the awar eness to the perception stage of diffusion of innovations (Rogers 2003). Projec t outreach activities directed to key members of stakeholder groups might require less economic investment than long-term mass media campaigns and are directly controlled instead of having to rely on third parties such as journalists and media. More studies from other MBCP sites are needed in order to compare results among different communities. Similarly, comparison of such results with surveys from Mesoamerican capital cities and other large cities will allow proj ect implementers and donors to further evaluate differences between national and local communication channels. The MBCP communication strategy directed to stakeholders was more effective than the public communication strategy. Interpersonal cha nnels were considered by leaders as more effective in providing MBCP information than ma ss media and could have prompted them to be more receptive of the media. Interpersonal channels were highly valued by politicians and land users, and even some journalists preferred inte rpersonal channels to diffuse MBCP information. MBCP had a stronger effect on the rate of adoption among national stakeholder groups and the more knowledgeable leaders, who engaged in behaviors promoting the implementation of biological corridors, including diffusion of MBCP, inclusion of MBCP concepts in government policies, and adopting biofriendly land-use practices such as agroforestry, sustainable forestry, and ecotourism. The core MBCP concept of bi ological connectivity was poorly assimilated. However, local leaders adopted more biofrie ndly land-use practices than national leaders, advancing the field implementation of biologica l corridors. These results are probably the consequence of the top-down design approach. The poor law-enforcement capacity of Latin American governments (Blundell & Gullison 2003) discourages the expectation of policies resulting in land use changes favoring biological connectivity. Many opi nion leaders suggested

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102 that MBCP should have focused di ffusion first on local stakeholde rs to promote land-use change behaviors, which were only reported at the lo cal level, in spite of the absence of local government policies endorsing biological corridors. It is difficult to break the tendency of topdown design approach in conserva tion and development projects (Barret et al. 2001, Michaelidou & Decker 2005). However, increas ing activities at the local level may have resulted in more biological corridors being established and MBCP could have capitalized on the power of field experiences, since land-use planni ng regulations are enforced local ly. It also would involve a more participatory approach, allowing for correcti ons in project design in the beginning stages of the project. Projects should focus on key l eaders that could highly impact decision-making processes. International funding agencies recognize the need to incorporate scientifically based evaluation processes throughout the lif e of a project, particularly in long-term initiatives, in order to have a sound basis for program adjustments ( UNDP 2002). Rarely do these evaluations form part of project activities. Qualitative research provides co ntextual understanding of factors affecting answers to a questionnaire (Bernard 2002) and complements the value of quantitative studies (Meyer 2004). Formative and summative sc ientifically-based evaluations will increase both implementation efficacy and economic efficien cy in reaching projects expected outcomes (Jacobson 1999, GAO 2002, UNDP 2002, Rossi et al. 2004). This study provided understanding of the effect of communication channels on the public and opinion leaders. It also contributed a methodological combination of quantitative and qualitative evaluation of project impacts. Future continuity of MBCP and other conservation and development projects can bene fit from the information provided by this study in the design and implementa tion of communication strategies.

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103 APPENDIX A ENVIRONMENTAL, AGRICULTURE A ND FORESTRY BEST MANAGEME NT PRACTICE PROGRAMS IN EL SA LVADOR, GUATEMALA OR HONDURAS 1. PASOLAC, Program for Sustainable Agricultur e in Central American Hillsides. Program operates in Nicaragua, H onduras and El Salvador. http://www.pasolac.org.ni/ accessed 05/15/2007 2. AGROPYME-Swisscontact. Commercialization of agroforestry products in small and medium size business. Program operates in Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. http://www.swisscontact.org.sv/agropyme.htm accessed 05/15/2007 3. PROMIPAC. Integrated pest Management Progr am for small farmers in Central America. Integrated pest management of maize and bean s in hillside agricultu re. Program operates in Nicaragua and El Salvador. http://www.cosude.org.ni/es/Pagina_principal /Sectores/Desarrollo_Agricola/PROMIPAC accessed 05/15/2007 CATIE. Tropical Agricultural Rese arch and Higher Education Center http://www.catie.ac.cr o Regional Programs 4. Environmen tal Management Small Donations Program (PRODOMA) 5. Degraded Pastures Recove ry Program, CATIE-NORAD. 6. Integrated Silvi-Pastures Approaches for Ecosystem Management Project, GEF-World Bank. 7. Non-synthetic Fito-Sanitari an Regional Project 8. Technical Services for Rura l Development (SETEDER). 9. Rehabilitation Planning and Environmental Management of Coastal Development in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatem ala after Hurricane Match. 10. Innovation, Learning and Comm unication for Watershed Adaptive Co-Management, FOCUENCAS (Honduras and Nicaragua) 11. Environmental Services Management for Vuln erable Central American Towns Case Study Identification and Systematization Project and Establishment of a Regional Municipal Capacity Building Program, FEMICA. 12. Trifinio Region Highland Lempa River Waters hed Sustainable Development Trinational Strategic Plan (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras). 13. Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Environmen tal Management Small Donations Program (PRODOMA) o El Salvador 14. Design and Implementation of an Indicators Monitoring System. 15. Project MAG/PAES/ Trifinio Region (Consortium CRS-IICA-CATIE-UCA) o Guatemala 16. Peten Sustainable Development Program (UEC-PDS). 17. Technical Information System fo r Forest Plantation Monitoring. Plan Trinacional Trifin io http://www.sica.int/tr ifinio/ accessed 05/15/2007 18. Pest Management and Agroforestry with Co ffee Producer Families in Trifinio Project 19. Pest Management and Agroforestry with Small and Medium Scale Vegetable Producer Families in Trifinio Project.

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104 20. CARE El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras fo r the Strengthening of Trifinio Citizen Participation Bodies. 21. Better Regional Capacity to Mitigate Natural Disaster Impacts in International Watersheds, Rio Lempa Watershed, SICA/AID.

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105 APPENDIX B KEY INFORMANTS SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS GUIDE QUESTIONS 1. Have you heard about the MBCP? If answer is NO, briefly explain and continue w ith question 2 and then jump to question 12. 2. Can you describe the MBC in your own words? 3. What do you think was the goal of the MBC project? 4. What do you think are the strengths of the MBC project? 5. What do you think are the MBCPs weaknesses? 6. How did you first hear about the MBCP? From what other source you got MBC info rmation? Probe for all sources: TV, radio, written press or other publications, workshops or meetings, participants got MBC information including personal s ources (family, friends, peers, church, others). 7. Which was the most effective and why? 8. Which was the least effective and why? 9. How could the MBCP better communicate with you? your group (NGOs, farmers, ranchers, foresters, politicians, journalists) the general public? 10. What did you obtained or learned from these sources? what do you think about its quality? was it useful? In which ways? 11. Have you done something that could have an e ffect on the MBC after learning about it or participating in MBCP activities? Describe. 12. What do you think about prot ected areas? (Not the state of PA in your country or community, but the concept of setting land aside for nature to take place) Do you think protected areas have a role in a countrys or regions development? 13. What do you think about land use planning? Do you think land use planning and MBC are related? How? (If yes, where you told about this relations hip by MBC channels or is it inferred? 14. What do you think about connecting protected areas? 15. What do you think about biodiversity friendly land uses and their feasibility, benefits, limitations, costs? Additional questions only for journalists: 1. Which media did you represented while attending MBCP workshops? 2. Are you still related to the same media? 3. How many MBCP workshops did you attend? Please describe 4. Did you produce MBC related products? 5. How many? 6. Can you briefly describe them? 7. Were they used/published by your media?

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106 8. Have you received feedback from the audien ces you directed your MBC products? Please describe. 9. Do you know about the MBC journalists network? 10. Do you participate or make use of the network?

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107 APPENDIX C LIST OF LAND-USER ASSOCIATIONS AND GOVERN MENT INSTITUTIONS APPROACHED BY THE STUDY (Spanish acronyms in parenthesis) Land-use Associations Agriculture, Livestock and Agroindustrial Chamber [of Commerce] of El Salvador Association of Cayahuanca Municipalities, Technical Unit Cement of El Salvador, Inc. (CESSA) El Salvador-Honduras Binational Bordering Municipalities Project Esquipulas Farmers Association Forestry Corporation of El Salvador (CORFORES) Honduran Private Reserves Network (REHNAP) National Federation of Agricultural and Li vestock Producers of Honduras (FENAGH) Natural Private Reserve Association of Guatemala Salvadoran Forestry Association (AFOSALVA) San Marcos Ocotepeque Ecological Association (AESMO) Trifinio Associations for Sustainable Development (ATRIDEST) Government Institutions Agriculture and Livestock Ministry, El Salvador (MAG) Environment and Natural Resources Ministry, El Salvador (MARN) Environment and Natural Resources Ministry, Guatemala (MARN) Environment and Natural Resources Department, Honduras (SERNA) Federal Forestry AdministrationHonduran Cor poration of Forest Development (AFE-COHDEFOR) National Forest Institute, Guatemala (INAB) National Protected Area Council, Guatemala (CONAP) Trifinio Trinational Plan

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124 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Luis Antonio Ram os was born in Mexico City in 1962 and grew up in El Salvador. He obtained his veterinary medicine and animal science degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1988; he obtai ned a Master of Scie nce degree in wildlife science from New Mexico State University in 1995, and his Doctorate in Interdisciplinary Ecology with a concentration and certificate on tropical conservation and development from the University of Florida in 2008. Luis is founde r and an active member of the Board of the Zoological Foundation of El Salv ador (FUNZEL). He has worked as director of FUNZELs Wildlife Rescue Center, as an environmental cons ultant for national and international agencies, as a business entrepreneur and as El Salvadors liaison officer for the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project. Lately, he is an adjunct professor at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida.