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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   2013| July-September  | Volume 11 | Issue 3  
    Online since November 6, 2013

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Pistia stratiotes L. in the Florida Peninsula: Biogeographic Evidence and Conservation Implications of Native Tenure for an 'Invasive' Aquatic Plant
Jason M Evans
July-September 2013, 11(3):233-246
Pistia stratiotes L. (water lettuce) is a floating aquatic plant with wide pantropical distribution and the sole extant species of the Pistia genus. Fragmented knowledge about pre-modern Holocene dispersal and widespread observations of ecological invasiveness have made Pistia a classic example of a 'cryptogenic' species (i.e., indeterminately native or non-native) in much of its contemporary range. Questions about Pistia biogeography have likely received the most attention in North America's Florida peninsula, where the species is currently listed and aggressively controlled as an invasive non-native. However, emergent conservation concerns have prompted interest in resolving persistent uncertainties about this designation and associated management strategies. Towards this purpose, this paper develops a comprehensive and critical review of scientific literature pertaining to the Florida biogeography of Pistia. Remarkably, all claims in support of the non-native designation can be dismissed as scientifically and/or logically insufficient through hypothetico-deductive analysis. Conversely, a holistic synthesis of paleo-botanical, historical, and ecological evidence overwhelmingly points toward a native Florida presence for Pistia. Observations and associated ecological inferences further suggest that intensive Pistia control programs, which for many years have been implemented on an assumption of non-native status, may pose some conservation concerns for rare native biota in Florida's spring-fed streams. This case study joins several other studies indicating that due caution and research diligence should be employed when managing cryptogenic taxa in this time of global change.
  9,905 577 1
The Demise of the Golden Toad and the Creation of a Climate Change Icon Species
Leticia M Ochoa-Ochoa, Robert J Whittaker, Richard J Ladle
July-September 2013, 11(3):291-319
There is an unavoidable degree of uncertainty associated with future climate projections, and even more unpredictability about the potential impact of different climate scenarios on the ecology and distribution of organisms. Conservationists face a major public communications challenge to both raise awareness and mobilise support for conservation and climate change mitigation/adaptation policies while realistically representing complex and uncertain scientific information. Here, we illustrate the interplay of these competing communication goals through a review of the representations of the golden toad in the print media and peer-reviewed literature (in English and Spanish). Since its disappearance in 1989 the toad has become an important conservation flagship species that has been frequently portrayed as the first verified extinction attributable to global warming. Moreover, there was an increase in the certainty of published news items regarding the toad and its demise, especially in the late 1990s. The uncertainty surrounding the toad's disappearance (apparent in the primary research literature) was poorly represented in the popular press. The transformation of the toad into an iconic species for climate change advocacy may reflect a perceived need to supply tangible evidence of biodiversity consequences arising from climate change and highlights the challenges facing conservation scientists in communicating scientific concerns and uncertainty via the media.
  6,082 550 1
Reshaping Conservation: The Social Dynamics of Participatory Monitoring in Tanzania's Community-managed Forests
Mikkel Funder, Finn Danielsen, Yonika Ngaga, Martin R Nielsen, Michael K Poulsen
July-September 2013, 11(3):218-232
Drawing on a study of community-managed forest reserves in southern Tanzania, this article discusses how community members engage and shape inclusive protected area management practices to produce outcomes that were not intended by external implementers. The article shows how a participatory natural resource monitoring scheme operating in the area becomes part of the villagers' collective and individual efforts to assert their claims to territory and resources vis-a-vis the state, other communities, and other community members. By altering the monitoring procedures in subtle ways, community members strengthen the monitoring practices to their advantage, and to some extent move them beyond the reach of government agencies and conservation and development practitioners. This has led to outcomes that are of greater social and strategic value to communities than the original 'planned' benefits, although the monitoring scheme has also to some extent become dominated by local 'conservation elites' who negotiate the terrain between the state and other community members. Our findings suggest that we need to move beyond simplistic assumptions of community strategies and incentives in participatory conservation and allow for more adaptive and politically explicit governance spaces in protected area management.
  4,886 783 7
Assessing the Impacts of Conservation and Commercial Forestry on Livelihoods in Northern Republic of Congo
Michael Riddell
July-September 2013, 11(3):199-217
Researchers often attempt to understand the social impacts of conservation interventions in isolation of broader socioeconomic, political and institutional change. However it is important to understand the variety of forces structuring livelihood impacts, and to identify how different social groups respond and adapt to changes. This article uses a case study from northern Republic of Congo, where rural livelihoods are shaped by a combination of conservation and commercial forestry activities, to understand the differential livelihood impacts of these activities on the two principal social groups, the Aka hunter-gatherers and Kaka and Bondongo farmer-fishers. The study results indicate that livelihood change is most striking in conservation-forestry villages compared to control villages, and this change is most evident among the Aka. Although commercial forestry is the principal driver of livelihood change, the enforcement of conservation regulations reduces households' access to natural capital and alters social relations. In this context the impacts of conservation were exacerbated due to the dramatic transformation of the livelihood space into which people were either economically displaced or chose to move to. Conservation interventions in similar contexts should involve people in the project design and initiate context-specific livelihood assessment and monitoring prior to and during the intervention.
  4,260 817 1
A Baseline Analysis of Transboundary Poaching Incentives in Chiquibul National Park, Belize
Katherine Groff, Mark Axelrod
July-September 2013, 11(3):277-290
When local and external interests differ, community development and conservation goals may conflict. This interest divide is especially apparent in the management of resources across national borders. This study considers illegal hunting of wildlife in Belize's Chiquibul National Park (CNP), which may contribute to decreasing wildlife populations. Community residents in neighbouring Guatemala engage in poaching within CNP, but management strategies are limited to Belizean efforts. This research assesses Guatemalan residents' perceptions of the extent of poaching, understanding of wildlife in CNP, and views on the legality and motivations for poaching. We address these objectives by interviewing Guatemalan border community residents, along with authorities on both sides of the border. Our findings indicate that cross-border poaching by Guatemalan residents is declining, yet still prevalent, in these communities. However, this research demonstrates little support for the hypothesis that regulations or punishments limit poaching. Instead, the subsistence needs of hunters and their families was found to be a more important factor affecting residents' decision to poach. Park managers should design conservation interventions accordingly.
  4,167 574 1
Governance Lessons from Two Sumatran Integrated Conservation and Development Projects
Candice Carr Kelman
July-September 2013, 11(3):247-263
Governance issues are at the heart of successful biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. This article examines two Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) conducted in parks on Sumatra, to better understand the foundations of effective biodiversity conservation programmes. The ICDP centred on a networked and multiscalar approach to governance issues seems to have had a longer-term positive impact on truly protecting biodiversity than the one that focused elsewhere. The findings from this research support the notion that an overarching spotlight on institutions and multilevel governance matters (ranging from spatial planning and policy making to arresting poachers to battling corruption) can help in addressing many conservation and development dilemmas. Grounded in field research, this paper calls for a model of biodiversity conservation based on multilayered, networked governance structures, proper law enforcement, and an emphasis on the development of institutional capacity, especially at the local level. These networks should be nurtured by long-term partnerships between governments, communities, and NGOs. Donors and planners should focus on these key areas in conservation design.
  3,900 615 2
Doing 'Conservation': Effects of Different Interpretations at an Ecuadorian Volunteer Tourism Project
Kerry E Grimm
July-September 2013, 11(3):264-276
As more people volunteer in the name of 'conservation,' a careful analysis of 'conservation' and the actors' underlying ideologies becomes pressing. Volunteers work on the seemingly similar goal of 'conservation,' but differences in interpretations can have on-the-ground impacts. In this paper, I use interviews and participant interactions to: (1) analyse how volunteers, reserve managers, and volunteer coordinators at an Ecuadorian reserve articulated 'conservation' in their discourse; and (2) examine how different conservation ideologies affected interactions among actors and with the environment. Using political ecology and a modified version of ideological and cluster criticism to analyse discourse, I found actors interpreted 'conservation' differently. I identified three ideologies presented by volunteers: Type I (preservation-oriented), Type-II (mixed), and Type-III (sustainable use-oriented); managers and coordinators held similar views as each other. Different 'conservation' ideologies among actors affected the project (e.g., acceptability of sustainable logging), interactions, perceptions of locals, and general attitudes towards conservation work.
  3,115 437 -