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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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SPECIAL SECTION: ARTICLE
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 16-28

Bureaucratic Barriers Limit Local Participatory Governance in Protected Areas in Costa Rica


Division of Marine Sciences and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Duke Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC, USA

Correspondence Address:
Xavier Basurto
Division of Marine Sciences and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Duke Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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The importance of local participation in biodiversity governance was recently recognised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) through the incorporation of Indigenous Peoples' and Local Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) as a protected area category. This paper explores what barriers ICCAs might face in their successful implementation within already existing protected area systems. I look at this issue in the context of the decentralisation of biodiversity governance in Costa Rica and examine the internal makeup of four different conservation areas within the National System of Conservation Areas. My findings suggest that it is not enough to enact legal reforms allowing and encouraging local participation. Successfully involving local participation requires attention to the class-based relationships within the protected area bureaucracy that create incentives (or not) to link with the local rural citizenry affected by these areas. In three out of four conservation areas, the dominant social class and urban-rural dynamics combined with a lack of accountability mechanisms have discouraged any real rural involvement and empowerment for decision-making. The strategy of the one area that succeeded at sorting these obstacles to incorporate local participation is described in detail.


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