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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 : 299-310

Market-based Conservation in Melanesia: Contrasting Expectations of Landowners and Conservationists


Current affiliation: Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois, IL, USA; Research undertaken at: Conservation Biology Program and Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, MN, USA; and New Guinea Binatang Research Station, Madang, Papua New Guinea

Correspondence Address:
Bridget Marie Henning
Current affiliation: Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois, IL, USA; Research undertaken at: Conservation Biology Program and Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, MN, USA; and New Guinea Binatang Research Station, Madang, Papua New Guinea

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.170409

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Conservationists have long been interested in the biodiverse country of Papua New Guinea but have had limited success on the ground. Direct payments for conservation appeal to Western conservationists because they compete with the material benefits from resource extraction enterprises. Direct payments are also attractive to Melanesian villagers because they appear to be the beginning of socially appropriate reciprocal relationships with conservationists. Market-based conservation assumes exchange takes place between independent, self-interested actors, but Melanesian villagers assume that exchange takes place between morally obligated, interdependent actors. Such cultural differences led to contradictory expectations and friction between conservationists and villagers in Wanang Conservation, the particular ethnographic focus of this article. However, direct payments have simultaneously satisfied some expectations of both parties. Direct payments may be useful in conservation but for different reasons than expected. They succeed as part of a wider socially acceptable reciprocal relationship, but direct payments alone will likely fail.


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