Another overdue news item:
Natasha Miric successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Letting Nature Take Its Course? An Analysis of Global Institutional Conflict around the Proliferation of National Parks.” Congratulations Natasha!
The dissertation examines the worldwide growth of national parks. Natasha coded the newest version of the IUCN dataset, which has high quality data on protected areas around the globe.
The core of the dissertation is a cross-national and longitudinal founding analysis. Among other things, she observes a classic world society “INGO effect” whereby countries strongly connected to the international community tend to expand parks faster.
The project has a number other novel and interesting findings. Natasha originally planned to contrast pro-environmental “world society” pressures with economic & neoliberal pressures deriving from foreign trade, investment, and international development finance, which might plausibly impede pro-environmental activities such as park establishment. However, countries that received World Bank development assistance actually protect land area more rapidly than countries receiving little or no assistance, ceteris paribus. Likewise, FDI and trade are often positively associated with parks. This was quite unexpected… and for a long time I was quite skeptical. However, the findings are rather robust. It seems that any form of international connectivity speeds the diffusion of parks.
The project also has many layers… for instance, Natasha digs down into the different levels of park “quality”, which the IUCN tracks. And, she uses fuzzy set QCA to explore whether some distinctive combinations of factors are necessary to generate lots of parks (or the converse). Altogether, an impressive project!