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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 221-231

Building Participation in Large-scale Conservation: Lessons from Belize and Panama


Current affiliation: Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore; Research carried out at: Duke University Marine Lab, Beaufort, NC, USA

Correspondence Address:
Jesse Guite Hastings
Current affiliation: Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore; Research carried out at: Duke University Marine Lab, Beaufort, NC, USA

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.170393

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Motivated by biogeography and a desire for alignment with the funding priorities of donors, the twenty-first century has seen big international NGOs shifting towards a large-scale conservation approach. This shift has meant that even before stakeholders at the national and local scale are involved, conservation programmes often have their objectives defined and funding allocated. This paper uses the experiences of Conservation International's Marine Management Area Science (MMAS) programme in Belize and Panama to explore how to build participation at the national and local scale while working within the bounds of the current conservation paradigm. Qualitative data about MMAS was gathered through a multi-sited ethnographic research process, utilising document review, direct observation, and semi-structured interviews with 82 informants in Belize, Panama, and the United States of America. Results indicate that while a large-scale approach to conservation disadvantages early national and local stakeholder participation, this effect can be mediated through focusing engagement efforts, paying attention to context, building horizontal and vertical partnerships, and using deliberative processes that promote learning. While explicit consideration of geopolitics and local complexity alongside biogeography in the planning phase of a large-scale conservation programme is ideal, actions taken by programme managers during implementation can still have a substantial impact on conservation outcomes.


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