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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 : 2018  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 409-419

Integrating Conservation and Sustainable Development Through Adaptive Co-management in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves

1 Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, Ontario, Canada
2 Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm, Sweden
3 School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University Ave W, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Julia Baird
Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, Ontario
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_17_58

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Integrating conservation and sustainable development is difficult, but organisations charged with this mandate must move forward with implementation. Adaptive Co-Management (ACM), an approach that brings together the learning function of adaptation with the linking function of collaboration, has been identified as a promising way to enhance the effectiveness of sustainable development without compromising conservation efforts. We examine four UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (BRs) to better understand the extent to which they exhibit characteristics of ACM integrated conservation and sustainable development and gain insights into how they do so. We find that the BRs we studied in Canada and Sweden undertake a substantial number of activities strongly oriented towards integration of conservation and development objectives. These activities involve a wide variety of actors in both on-the-ground implementation efforts and decision-making activities, create novel spaces for interaction among participants which contributes to their bridging ability, and draw on social networks, available assets and individuals' contributions to enable actions in pursuit of their integrative mandate. Insights into these activities and how they were undertaken can offer lessons for future practice and research within the World Biosphere Reserve Network, as well as conservation organisations more broadly. Although we demonstrate that significant efforts are being made towards integration of conservation and development, we nonetheless suggest that further studies should explicitly investigate if and how such integration actually lead to more desirable social and ecological outcomes.

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