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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   2008| April-June  | Volume 6 | Issue 2  
    Online since June 26, 2009

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Prosopis juliflora Invasion and Rural Livelihoods in the Lake Baringo Area of Kenya
Esther Mwangi, Brent Swallow
April-June 2008, 6(2):130-140
Global concern about deforestation caused by fuelwood shortages prompted the introduction of Prosopis juliflora to many tropical areas in the 1970s and 1980s. P. juliflora is a hardy nitrogen-fixing tree that is now recognised as one of the world's most invasive alien species. The introduction and subsequent inva­sion of P. juliflora in the Lake Baringo area of Kenya has attracted national media attention and contra­dictory responses from responsible agencies. This paper presents an assessment of the livelihood effects, costs of control and local perceptions on P. juliflora of rural residents in the Lake Baringo area. Unlike some other parts of the world where it had been introduced, few of the potential benefits of P. juliflora have been captured and very few people realise the net benefits in places where the invasion is most ad­vanced. Strong local support for eradication and replacement appears to be well justified. Sustainable utilisation will require considerable investment and institutional innovation.
  9,937 960 16
Effects of Land Privatisation on the Use of Common-pool Resources of Varying Mobility in the Argentine Chaco
Mariana Altrichter, Xavier Basurto
April-June 2008, 6(2):154-165
During the last few decades there has been a strong tendency towards privatisation of land tenure to in­crease protection and sustainable use of natural resources. We assess this approach in the context of land privatisation in a dry region of the Argentine Chaco where low income peasants depend on multiple common-pool resources (CPRs) to survive and where most recently privatisation of land tenure has also included large absentee landowners. We hypothesise that the results of such policies depend in part on the mobility of the resources in question, and compare the harvesting practices of CPRs of varied mobil­ity before and after the conversion of land to private property to assess the effects of privatisation. We found that privatisation by low income peasants increased control of access to stationary and low mobil­ity CPRs but highly mobile species continued being used as open access and over-exploited. In contrast, the later privatisation of land by large absentee landowners is likely to pose serious threats to the conser­vation of the ecosystem in general, and to the ability of low income peasants to maintain their livelihoods in this region.
  5,094 550 4
Forage Preferences of the European Beaver Castor fiber: Implications for Re-introduction
MJ O'Connell, SR Atkinson, K Gamez, SP Pickering, JS Dutton
April-June 2008, 6(2):190-194
By the beginning of the twentieth century, hunting and land use change had reduced the European beaver Castor fiber to a relict population of no more than 1200 individuals. In some European states, re­introduction has successfully established viable populations, whilst other schemes have failed. Environ­mental, social and economic issues associated with beaver re-introduction have given rise to a range of information needs in relation to the species' ecology. In 2005, six European beavers were translocated from Bavaria to a re-introduction site in southern England. The following year, a 6 month study was un­dertaken to investigate which tree species and size classes were most frequently utilised by the beavers, and to determine if the utilised species and size classes reflected resource availability within the home range. These questions were answered by comparing the use and the availability of foraged tree species in two ways: (1) using a survey of tree stumps; and (2) as a food choice experiment. The results showed that the re-introduced beavers were highly selective in relation to both the species and the size of the trees they used i.e. the re-introduced beavers selected species in significantly different proportions to their availability. However, they selected similar size classes between the preferred tree species, and did not utilise human 'timber'. The relevance of the study is discussed with respect to information needs as­sociated with the re-introduction of a 'keystone' species, overcoming negative perceptions, population viability, welfare and 'soft release' strategies.
  4,046 456 1
Mangrove Utilisation and Implications for Participatory Forest Management, South Africa
Catherine Helen Traynor, Trevor Hill
April-June 2008, 6(2):109-116
South African rural coastal communities have utilised mangrove products for generations. However, the factors determining use are poorly understood and utilisation is rarely acknowledged in natural resource management. Since the post-apartheid government came to power in 1994, there has been a paradigm shift in government forest policy, and Participatory Forest Management (PFM) has been selected to implement these changes. This study was initiated to determine the utilisation of mangrove products, locally available alternatives and the implications for PFM. Combinations of methods were employed, including a participatory walk, group discussions, observation and semi-structured interviews. The main use of mangroves was for construction of buildings, with Bruguiera gymnorrhiza and Rhizophora mucronata being preferred. Diameters of stems selected for construction were approximately between 5-7 cm for poles and 2-3 cm for laths. Indigenous and exotic woods, and mud and sand blocks were also used for construction of buildings. PFM should include a plan for the sustainable utilisation of man­groves. The plan should be guided by national legislation and address the biology of the mangrove spe­cies. The plan should include livelihood issues and should in the long term promote the use of alternative construction materials to mangroves, and should enhance the non-consumptive value of the mangrove ecosystem.
  3,802 601 1
Urban Environmentalism and Activists' Networks in China: The Cases of Xiangfan and Shanghai
Lei Xie, Peter Ho
April-June 2008, 6(2):141-153
Despite China's repressive environment, the public, organised by environmental non-governmental or­ganisations (ENGOs), are represented in local environmental governance; their voices are articulated and policy-making is affected. Empirical findings from ENGOs in two Chinese cities demonstrate that envi­ronmental activism is not an activity with a fair degree of autonomy and self-regulation, but occupies a social space that is enmeshed in a web of interpersonal relations and informal/formal rules between po­litical and social actors. Contextual factors of economic development, openness of the political system and local culture also have impacts on movement dynamics in different locations.
  3,717 545 2
Managing Social-ecological Change and Uncertainty: Floodplain Agriculture and Conservation in Dryland Northern Cameroon
Stanley T Asah, Kristen C Nelson, David N Bengston
April-June 2008, 6(2):166-178
Managing change and uncertainty is important for effective environmental conservation, especially in semi-arid areas. This paper explores farmers' strategies adopted for managing change and uncertainty in­herent in social-agricultural interactions in the Logone floodplain of the Lake Chad basin. We do this through ethnographic participant observations, surveys and latent variable modelling. Among four cate­gories of strategies, those adopted to spread risks were shown to negatively impact farmers' efforts to manage change and uncertainty. Risk-spreading strategies relying on social networks, credit, common­pool resources, cultivation of multiple species and varieties, and alternative income-generating activities were seldom ineffective. In part, the ineffectiveness of risk-spreading strategies is explained by the fact that these strategies were subjected to similar human-environment conditions as agriculture. However, development interventions, corruption, democratic reform, re-negotiation of the commons and reluctance to seize risk-spreading opportunities have undesirable consequences for agro-ecological risk manage­ment. We discuss local potential and the role of external agents in enhancing management of change and uncertainty.
  3,388 491 -
A Study of the Bushmeat Trade in Ouesso, Republic of Congo
A Bennett Hennessey, Jessica Rogers
April-June 2008, 6(2):179-184
Ouesso, the largest town in northern Congo consumed 5700 kg of bushmeat a week in 1994. The purpose of this study, that was conducted between mid-June and mid-October1994, was to quantify the bushmeat trade in the town of Ouesso. The questions we wanted to answer included: 'from where does meat arrive in the market', 'what species are being sold' and 'how are the species being hunted'. We recorded infor­mation about the description of the species hunted, and the type and location of hunting. Any information that seemed to be of interest was also recorded, since this was the first documentation of the meat trade in Ouesso. We recorded thirty-nine species of animals used for consumption, including seven species of monkeys, eight species of antelope, as well as gorillas, chimpanzees and elephants. Duikers were most abundant, with 390 individuals sold per week. Three main hunting systems are used in the area: snare, night hunting and day hunting. About 66 per cent of the meat for the market came from an 80 km road travelling southwest to a village called Liouesso and 13 per cent came from a logging truck trading in Cameroon. Finally, we concluded that law enforcement and wildlife management were ineffective in the study area, either because people were unaware of the laws or because the area concerned was too large to monitor and patrol. The addition of roads to this area would probably facilitate greater patrolling, but it would also definitely lead to an increase in bushmeat hunting. Ouesso should be monitored in future to determine the sustainability of its bushmeat trade.
  3,278 597 3
The Robustness of Indigenous Common-property Systems to Frontier Expansion: Institutional Interplay in the Mosquitia Forest Corridor
Tanya M Hayes
April-June 2008, 6(2):117-129
This article compares how indigenous residents in the Mosquitia Forest Corridor of Honduras and Nica­ragua have responded to agricultural expansion in two distinct institutional environments: a reserve under public management and a reserve where the indigenous residents hold territorial rights. The article com­bines institutional analysis with ethnographically-based fieldwork to (1) identify whether the indigenous common-property systems in the Mosquitia remain robust when residents are confronted with private­property institutions and land markets introduced by colonists; and (2) examine the links between main­tenance of the common-property systems and the broader institutional environment. The analysis pays particular attention to how the protected area policies in each reserve impact the transaction costs in­curred in local rule-making and individual land use strategies in response to migrant farmers and ranchers. The findings suggest that the broader institutional environment, specifically the protected area policies and processes, significantly influence the transaction costs and risks involved in collective rule-making, and thereby impact the capacity of the indigenous residents to sustain their common-property systems.
  3,260 489 3
Karakoram in Transition: Culture, Development and Ecology in the Hunza Valley
Nosheen Ali
April-June 2008, 6(2):195-197
  3,264 433 -
Drowned and Dammed: Colonial Capitalism and Flood Control in Eastern India
Karen Coelho
April-June 2008, 6(2):206-207
  2,973 442 -
The Policy of Reduction of Cattle Populations from Protected Areas: A Case Study from Buxa Tiger Reserve, India
Bidhan Kanti Das
April-June 2008, 6(2):185-189
In India, as elsewhere, protected areas (PAs) have permanent resident populations who are historically dependent on forest resources for their livelihood. The Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR), in the northern part of West Bengal, is one such reserve forest where villagers have been residing for more than a 100 years. With the creation of a national park, employment opportunities for the forest villagers, who were once treated as an important labour force during the commercial forestry regime, have drastically declined. To reduce pressure on forest resources at the BTR, the World Bank financed India Ecodevelopment Project (IEDP) was initiated with the aim to involve local people by supporting sustainable alternative income­generating activities. In consonance with the dominant view that livestock grazing in bio-diverse regions is destructive to nature, reduction in cattle populations and stall feeding of cattle have been included as reciprocal commitments under this project. This paper is an attempt to assess whether the strategy of cat­tle reduction is really possible. It also tries to explore how far a reduction of cattle is acceptable or feasi­ble in the context of present findings, especially in India. Results show that there is little impact on cattle populations after the project intervention. However, the slow but consistently decreasing trend in cattle populations is evident for other reasons. This article argues that as cattle are an integral part of the rural economy for marginalised groups in PAs like the BTR, where alternative employment opportunities are very limited, the reduction or removal of cattle may not be a viable option as it will adversely affect the livelihood of these vulnerable communities. A more pragmatic approach of rotational grazing would be fruitful for preservation of protected forest areas in countries like India.
  2,769 458 1
Moving the Maasai: A Colonial Misadventure
Chris Youe
April-June 2008, 6(2):202-203
  2,334 392 -
One Valley and a Thousand: Dams, Nationalism, and Development
Gunnel Cederlof
April-June 2008, 6(2):200-201
  2,284 307 -
Will History Repeat Itself on Climate Change?
Sujatha Byravan
April-June 2008, 6(2):198-199
  1,934 298 -
Globalization and Indigenous Peoples in Asia: Changing the Local-global Interface
Richard Tucker
April-June 2008, 6(2):204-205
  1,727 302 -
Marine Turtles of the Indian Subcontinent
Nicolas Pilcher
April-June 2008, 6(2):208-208
  1,290 232 -