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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| October-December  | Volume 6 | Issue 4  
    Online since June 25, 2009

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Mediating Forest Transitions: 'Grand Design' or 'Muddling Through'
Jeffrey Sayer, Gary Bullb, Chris Elliottc
October-December 2008, 6(4):320-327
Present biodiversity conservation programmes in the remaining extensive forest blocks of the humid trop­ics are failing to achieve outcomes that will be viable in the medium to long term. Too much emphasis is given to what we term 'grand design'-ambitious and idealistic plans for conservation. Such plans im­plicitly oppose or restrict development and often attempt to block it by speculatively establishing paper parks. Insufficient recognition is given to the inevitable long term pressures for conversion to other land uses and to the weakness of local constituencies for conservation. Conservation institutions must build their capacity to engage with the process of change. They must constantly adapt to deal with a continuously unfolding set of challenges, opportunities and changing societal needs. This can be achieved by long term on-the-ground engagement and 'muddling through'. The range of conservation options must be enlarged to give more attention to biodiversity in managed landscapes and to mosaics composed of areas with dif­fering intensities of use. The challenge is to build the human capacity and institutions to achieve this.
  13 4,287 851
Organising to Protect: Protecting Landscapes and Livelihoods in the Nicaraguan Hillsides
Helle Munk Ravnborg
October-December 2008, 6(4):283-292
Social science literature on protected areas (PAs) has hitherto focused mostly upon how PAs have been designated at the expense of the interests of people living in and around the PA and how this has often re­sulted in conflict. However, there is a growing recognition that this dichotomised perception does not al­ways adequately capture what is taking place in relation to PA establishment and management. Internal as well as external interests, viz- a -viz PA establishment and management are much more diverse and complex, and have to be understood in a wider context of interests and strategies not solely related to is­sues of conservation. This article reports a case from Nicaragua of small scale farmers struggling to have their area, Miraflor, declared a PA. Adopting a political ecology perspective, the article explores the un­derlying motives for this apparent paradox of farmers wanting to have their land recognised as a PA and thus accepting the potential restrictions on land use this entails. This article analyses how the formulation of the management plan for Miraflor as a PA, became the 'arena' for negotiation and alliance building between different segments of competing land users in Miraflor ranging from the virtually landless poor to the landed small scale farmers to the resourceful, largely absentee landowners; and how national and international external institutions-knowingly or not-were drawn into and took part in this negotiation. Hence, this article serves to illustrate the importance of recognising that this key instrument in PA man­agement-the management plan-is much more than a technical document building on sound ecological principles. The issue at stake is not only protecting a landscape, but, perhaps more importantly, protect­ing livelihoods.
  3 4,736 732
Conservation Needs of Batrachophrynus and Telmatobius Frogs of the Andes of Peru
Ariadne Angulo
October-December 2008, 6(4):328-333
Recent reports indicate that Andean frogs of the genera Batrachophrynus and Telmatobius have under­gone severe population declines across much of their geographical range, with several factors (e.g., pollu­tion, habitat degradation and destruction, climate change, disease and harvesting) potentially involved in these declines. However, positive identification and quantification of these factors, as well as that of their interactions, are needed in order to better inform future conservation action. Peru is considered a hotspot for these frogs; it is home to at least 40 percent of all known species of Telmatobius and 100 percent of all known species of Batrachophrynus. An assessment of the current state of conservation knowledge of these Andean frogs in this country is provided, including data from both the Global Amphibian Assess­ment, and Peru's Instituto Nacional de los Recursos Naturales, with special attention to those factors that may affect population status. Specific research and conservation recommendations for these frogs and their habitats are suggested.
  3 3,776 716
The Decline of Village Common Lands and Changes in Village Society: South India, c. 1850-2000
Haruka Yanagisawa
October-December 2008, 6(4):293-307
The widely accepted view that emphasises the negative impact of the decline in common property re­sources on the village poor generally presumes that village common lands would have been used by all villagers inclusive of the poor without serious differences in the right to access them. Mainly based on historical documents for Tamil Nadu from the nineteenth century, this paper argues that influential vil­lagers controlled 'waste lands' (village common land) and that this elite-dominant system of controlling natural resources declined with the gradual emancipation of the subordinate section of villagers. The ac­quisition of small bits of cultivated land and the encroachment on waste lands by the landless not only mirrored their empowerment and strengthened their bargaining position but also implies, under some cir­cumstances, the creation of possible pre-conditions for an egalitarian type of resource-controlling system. This paper also suggests that, as witnessed in Tamil Nadu in the last two decades, the growth of non­agricultural job opportunities could possibly weaken the pressure on lands and also induce farmers to change cropping patterns of their farms, sometimes leading to an expansion of farm forestry. The acquisi­tion of landholding by the landless and their emancipation could also possibly contribute in this direction.
  - 6,495 888
The Mechanics of Legitimation: An Aristotelian Perspective on Environmental Narratives
Alex Flynn
October-December 2008, 6(4):308-319
Narratives dominate the environmental agenda. Emery Roe has first confronted such narratives as 'Ex­cept-Africa' and secondly argued that these narratives cannot be easily undermined. Rather, counter­narratives need to be generated that can better represent the nuanced realities of the situations to which they pertain. But what makes a successful narrative? This article argues that successful environmental narratives (a) conform to a certain literary schematic of how to construct a good narrative and (b) that it is from the combined elements of this schematic that they derive the facility to influence, shape and determine the actions of their 'readers'. That is, it is from the mechanics of their construction that their legitimising influence is drawn. This paper is divided into four sections. Firstly, there is a demonstration, using two parallel literary texts, of how the Aristotelian model of narrative functions. Secondly, this Aris­totelian conceptual framework of narrative is applied to environmental discourses, focusing on the 'Except-Africa' narrative, to demonstrate that successful environmental narratives share the exact com­ponents of literary texts. Thirdly, the focus shifts to several sub-narratives of the 'Except-Africa' narra­tive to illustrate how the mechanics of the Aristotelian model in concert, but principally the component ethos, are crucial when examining the consequences of narrative mobilisation. The paper suggests that when constructing counter-narratives, the schematic that is highlighted here could be a useful tactic to try and undermine the backbone of the environmental policy-making agenda.
  - 10,545 848
Forest Ecology in India. Colonial Maharashtra 1850-1950
Iftekhar Iqbal
October-December 2008, 6(4):334-334
  - 2,203 349
Book reviews
Daniel Brockington
October-December 2008, 6(4):335-336
  - 1,275 301
The Lions of India
Julie E Hughes
October-December 2008, 6(4):337-338
  - 1,883 399
Relocating Modern Science: Circulation and the Construction of Knowledge in South Asia and Europe, Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries
John Mathew
October-December 2008, 6(4):339-341
  - 3,274 476