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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   2007| January-March  | Volume 5 | Issue 1  
    Online since June 26, 2009

 
 
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SPECIAL SECTIONS
Whims of the Winds of Time? Emerging Trends in Biodiversity Conservation and Protected Area Management
Bram Buscher, Webster Whande
January-March 2007, 5(1):22-43
This article reviews narratives and trends in biodiversity conserva­tion and protected area (PA) management and examines contestations within and among them in the light of developments within the global political econ­omy. Its argument starts with the assumption that trends in biodiversity con­servation and PA management are, in large part, determined by global political and economic developments. The global political economy deter­mines how both policy issues inherent to the conservation and development debate need to continuously be re-operationalised in order to remain politi­cally acceptable. This argument is used to identify three recent trends in con­servation, which we have termed 'neoliberal conservation', 'bioregional conservation' and 'hijacked conservation'. By illustrating these trends with empirical data from eastern and southern Africa, we aim to enhance the un­derstanding and appreciation of macrosocial, economic and political dynam­ics-both constraints and opportunities-that impinge on conservation and development. In turn, this understanding could contribute to a better 'ma­noeuvrability' for the management and success of more technical initiatives that aim to improve conservation of biodiversity and PA management.
  7,484 1,681 5
Introduction: The Politics of Engagement between Biodiversity Conservation and the Social Sciences
Bram Buscher, William Wolmer
January-March 2007, 5(1):1-21
In scientific endeavour related to biodiversity conservation, the perspectives of the natural sciences have long been dominant. During the last several decades, however, social science research has steadily gained mo­mentum. The major achievement of the social sciences has been to investigate and emphasise the 'human side' of biodiversity conservation, ranging from local issues around social exclusion from protected areas and dependency of 'local people' on natural resources to more abstract issues of environmental governance and political ecology. But social science research is itself also a social process and its practices, assumptions and outcomes therefore deserve continuous critical reflection. The paper contends that when it comes to the en­gagement of the social sciences and biodiversity conservation the concept of 'politics' has tended to have negative connotations. However, we argue, like anything social, politics should not automatically be seen as negative. This ac­ceptance could considerably improve relations between different actors and we therefore urge all those involved in the debate, especially social scientists, to take two crucial steps: first, the creation and acceptance of practical spaces for critical political engagement and second, the concomitant need for actors to scrutinise and reflect more consciously on their politics of engagement.
  6,292 1,550 1
Seeking Common Ground: How Natural and Social Scientists Might Jointly Create an Overlapping Worldview for Sustainable Livelihoods: A South African Perspective
Nick King, Harry Biggs, Rael Loon
January-March 2007, 5(1):88-114
In this paper, an attempt is made to identify key factors that may enhance the basis for collaboration at the interface between social and natu­ral sciences, and to describe conceptually how natural capital differs from social capital. The paper begins by building on what is believed to be con­cepts common to both fields. In particular, it equates ecosystem services with natural capital, drawing especially on notions of the underpinning nature of ecosystem services as natural capital and suggesting key aspects of social sci­ence that add indispensable value to conservation, as part of a wider recogni­tion of social capital. It is concluded that it is most realistic and productive to regard the world, not as compartmentalised, but as an integrated socio­ecological system. In this regard by way of example, the positive potential of ecotourism in South Africa and how it integrates natural and social capital is contrasted with the negative potential of Invasive Alien Species. This leads to a discussion of South Africa's National Biodiversity Framework as an oppor­tunity to make use of an integrated approach to biodiversity conservation. The mutually beneficial co-existence of people and protected areas is pivotal to any success in this regard and the 'Swi ta Lunga' Trust is discussed as an emerging Integrated Conservation and Development project which has poten­ tial for mutually reinforcing positive natural and social capitals. A common understanding of the interconnectedness and interdependence of biophysical and social sciences, is the key to creating a joint platform for biophysical and social scientists, helping them to develop common objectives and a unified, or at least a significantly overlapping worldview. The paper concludes that a collaborative effort is required to drive the 'strong sustainability' paradigm that will allow the attainment of this common objective.
  4,677 937 2
New Architecture, Old Agendas: Perspectives on Social Research in Rural Communities Neighbouring the Kruger National Park
Barbara Nompumelelo Tapela, Lamson Maluleke, Clapperton Mavhunga
January-March 2007, 5(1):60-87
This article presents a summary of views expressed by individual local people and community 'representatives' on the issue of social research, prior to, during and after the Indaba on Social Research and Protected Ar­eas: Towards Equitable Best Practice and Community Empowerment, held at Skukuza, KNP, from 29 March to 3 April 2005 (the 'Indaba'). Views emerged through a process of 'engagement' between people from communities neighbouring the KNP and social researchers. This article focuses on three key issues discussed namely, 'feedback', 'benefits' and local control over re­search. What emerges is that local people are unhappy about the general lack of feedback by researchers. They question the skewed distribution of benefits from research and assert the need to review the way in which research is practiced. Community representatives, those elected by local people into Kruger National Park Neighbours' fora (akin to tribunes), further argue for a degree of local control over research as a measure to reduce the 'negative' impacts of research on communities. Social researchers, however, express a concern about what local control might mean for the academic freedom of re­searchers, independence of research and the plight of the less influential members of communities. We argue that research ethics and funding ar­rangements must be understandable and agreeable with local interests, and that, as far as possible, research must justify its relevance to local concerns. The ultimate test for engagement is the degree to which commitment to local people's interests becomes a driving force bridging broader conservation and development concerns. Engagement should not be just about using social re­searchers to pull communities into the project of conservationists and their desire to save animals and plants, and big businesses that reap financially from conservation. Communities must come to the discussion not as raw ma­terials for conservation, but as players whose own interests and feelings mat­ter and need attention if a protected area is to mean anything.
  4,901 611 2
On the Local Community: The Language of Disengagement?
Clapperton Mavhunga, Wolfram Dressler
January-March 2007, 5(1):44-59
For several decades now, social researchers have advocated and steered the popular paradigm of participatory, grass-roots research. The emergence of research that engages, transfers authority to, and empowers 'the community', apparently marks the end of centrist, top-down research ini­tiatives. We offer an alternative interpretation of this assumption. In the case of one Indaba in South Africa-a participatory meeting-we show that while it seems to have achieved its stated objectives on the surface, underlying re­search beliefs and attitudes still interpreted 'local people' and 'the commu­nity' as simple, discrete concepts. Such concepts turned abstract processes into concrete entities. In turn, the use of such concepts by researchers ensured that local settings remained simple so that themes, participants and communi­ties were readily accessible and easily understood. Social researchers thus re­interpreted local reality as if it were an absolute so that results would remain simple, effective and digestible. We conclude that rather than allowing local people to speak on matters that concern them, the discourse of this and other participatory meetings ensures that social researchers speak on behalf of 'the community'.
  3,792 751 3
ARTICLE
Landscape Images in Amazonian Narrative: The Role of Oral History in Environmental Research
Javier A Arce-Nazario
January-March 2007, 5(1):115-133
Oral history still plays a minor role in the environmental research disciplines. In this study, I present the richness of Amazonian narrative ex­tracted from oral history, as a source of environmental facts and symbols concerning how Amazonians interact and perceive their ecosystem. Narra­tives are analysed as a set of structures that reflect on the biological, cultural and physical elements of the Amazonian landscape. The oral history interview process allows Amazonians to reflect on their landscape aesthetics prefer­ences, leading to bottom-up proposals for Amazonian conservation, and re­construction of landscape changes. Finally, the study proposes the oral history approach as a method that democratises the researching and interpre­tation of landscapes.
  3,617 621 -
BOOK REVIEWS
The Politics and Poetics of Water: Naturalising Scarcity in Western India
Ritupan Goswami
January-March 2007, 5(1):139-143
  2,221 429 -
The Story of Asia's Lions
Radhika Govindrajan
January-March 2007, 5(1):136-139
  2,167 378 -
Life after Logging: Reconciling Wildlife Conservation and Production Forestry in Indonesian Borneo
Richard T Corlett
January-March 2007, 5(1):134-136
  1,606 325 -
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