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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   Table of Contents - Current issue
January-March 2020
Volume 18 | Issue 1
Page Nos. 1-69

Online since Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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Conservation Trapped in Ethno-regional Politics: Multiple Faces of the Struggles over Nechisar National Park (Southern Ethiopia) p. 1
Bayisa Feye Bedane, Ann Cassiman, Mark Breusers
The purpose of this study is to analyse the manifold struggles over land in southern Ethiopia's Nechisar National Park (NNP). The formal creation of NNP in 1974 fundamentally altered the scene, and congregated pastoralists, farmers, hunters, and conservationists in the struggles over resource access and use. While 'ancestral rights' continued to be invoked by those who had used the land previously, the NNP management and other actors could now call upon the imperatives of conservation to either curtail access to the Park and its resources or evict people from the Park. Following the downfall of the Derg regime in 1991, when Ethiopia adopted an ethnic federalism, attempts were made to assign a designated territory to each ethnic group. Thus, the struggles over NNP were further complicated by the renewal of the significance of ethnicity and the meanings of actors' strategies, given that the Park straddles the border between two regional states established under the new system of governance. This article is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in and around NNP. It demonstrates how attempts to introduce territoriality to hitherto unterritorialised spaces and ethnic groups resulted in the multiplication of the number of actors struggling for access to, and/or governance authority over, NNP and in the intensification of these struggles. The article argues for a shift in understanding people-park conflicts from a merely ecological and economistic approach to one that also situates these conflicts in the national politics of ethnic territorialisation.
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Evaluating the Conservation Attitudes, Awareness and Knowledge of Residents towards Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, Puerto Rico p. 13
Ana Guzman, Joel T Heinen, Jay P Sah
Numerous studies have shown that conflicts between local people and Protected Areas (PA) can undermine conservation goals. This study explores attitudes towards Vieques National Wildlife Refuge (VNWR), Puerto Rico, USA, a former military site with a controversial political history, high ecological values and a toxic legacy including unexploded ordnances as a results of the area's former use as a naval bombing range. Our objective is to evaluate how residents perceive VNWR and to elucidate conflicts associated with former and current uses of the area through semi-structured and key informant interviews. Socio-economic factors and misconceptions about management were among the variables influencing attitudes about the refuge. Overall, many residents did not express particularly strong attitudes, but there were many significant differences among demographic groups. Older and less educated individuals, and those living longer on Vieques Island, had poorer attitudes about the refuge and its management while younger, more educated, short-term residents, and those employed in the tourism sector, had more positive attitudes. The most common reasons for expressing discontent were restrictions on access and rules limiting resource extraction. Some negative concerns were false impressions of current restrictions (i.e. many resources can be legally removed from VNWR), while some others were issues not under the control of the Fish and Wildlife Service (i.e. fishing rules are set by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico). The results suggest that much more public outreach and education are urgently needed. We recommend that VNWR expand public uses where feasible and better-publicise formal regulations and the reasons for them.
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The Making of a Conservation Landscape: Towards a Practice of Interdependence p. 25
Anne H Toomey
The role of indigenous peoples in the conservation of biological diversity and the role of biological diversity in the lives of indigenous peoples have attracted increasing amounts of attention in the conservation literatures. This interest has led to increasing calls to develop a better understanding of both the complexity and the potential of relations between indigenous groups and Western conservation ideas and organisations. This paper presents a case of landscape making in the Madidi region of Bolivia to take a close look at collaborations and conflicts between various groups—indigenous communities, conservation organisations, and protected area officials. I will demonstrate that these groups have emerged out of a process of creating a shared landscape and that they are interdependent—both deeply entwined and radically distinct. Building on recent scholarship, I highlight the importance of interdependence as an active process of becoming, in which the spaces of contact and friction become so complex that the existence of one group is contingent on active engagement with the other. I argue that the concept of interdependence provides a fresh look at histories of encounters and relations in the making of a conservation landscape—uncovering spaces of hope that offer something different for the people involved—and thus can prompt new ways of imagining and practicing conservation in the future.
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An Ecological-Marxist Response to the Half-Earth Project p. 37
Brian M Napoletano, Brett Clark
The deepening biodiversity crisis in the Anthropocene has led to polarised debates within the conservation movement regarding its objectives and guiding principles. Within this intellectual milieu, the Half-Earth project's call to enclose at least half the planet within protected areas has been defended as an ecocentric approach that overrides the concerns of anthropocentric 'critical social scientists'. One group of advocates has even attacked such scientists as 'neo-Marxists' dedicated to the 'mastery' of nature. To steer the debate in a more constructive direction, we offer an ecosocialist response to the ecocentric advocacy of the Half-Earth project, specifically from the perspective of Marx's theory of metabolic rift. While we are sympathetic to the project's motivation and admire its audacity, we note important deficiencies in the ways the moral imperative has been asserted against social justice, and in the problematic comprehension of the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss, which threaten to undermine its objectives. Nonetheless, opposition to capitalist instrumentalism serves as an important point of possible convergence between conservation and anti-capitalist struggle. Further engagement with the ecological-Marxist critique of capitalism could strengthen efforts to address the biodiversity crisis while resolving important shortcomings in the Half-Earth project.
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Visitor Perceptions of Bark Beetle Impacted Forests in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado p. 50
Christa Cooper Sumner, Jeffrey A Lockwood
Forest disturbance by bark beetles and other insects is a global issue expected to increase with the warming climate. Visitor aesthetic appreciation of these forests affected by infestations is an important factor for land managers. Environmental education by land managers allows visitors to understand natural disturbances. We explored how the recent bark beetle-caused forest changes were perceived and understood by visitors at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, in reference to the aesthetic model of scientific cognitivism. Visitors completed an on-site questionnaire that was analysed using factor analyses and ANOVAs. Visitors perceived the forest as beautiful, inspiring, and interesting. No direct relationship was found between knowledge and perceptions. Visitor reactions combined affective with less salient cognitive dimensions. These findings emphasise the need to instill primary affective connections to cognitive subject matter in conservation education using knowledge to ameliorate cognitive dissonance associated with naturally disturbed landscapes.
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Limits. Why Malthus was Wrong and Why Environmentalists Should Care p. 63
Dan Brockington
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Animal Intimacies: Interspecies Relatedness in India's Central Himalayas p. 66
Ambika Aiyadurai
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Valuing Development, Environment and Conservation: Creating Values that Matter p. 68
Purnamita Dasgupta, Kavitha Srikanth
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