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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 318-328

What is 'Successful Development' in Conservation and Development Projects? Insights from Two Nicaraguan Case Studies

Independent Research Consultant, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Sandra K Znajda
Independent Research Consultant, Ontario
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.145157

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The lack of clear indications of success in integrated conservation and development projects has resulted in strong criticisms of these projects, and a call for the return to conservation activities that exclude local communities. Impeding this discussion is the lack of clarity around how project success is defined and measured in conservation and development projects, especially in terms of development goals. This study involved an in-depth exploration of two agroforestry-focused conservation and development projects in Nicaragua to provide insights into how success in reaching development goals is interpreted in such projects. In both projects, development was equated with increased household income, in contrast to more contemporary definitions that include aspects such as self-respect and social integration. Both projects in turn relied on income as a measure of development success, which ultimately lessened attention to impacts not easily measured quantitatively as well as participant perspectives on desired goals. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for conservation practitioners; specifically the need for better alignment of project goals with contemporary explanations of development, and a need to move beyond primarily numerical indicators to measure change through an interdisciplinary approach in order to have a more comprehensive understanding of project impacts.

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