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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   2017| April-June  | Volume 15 | Issue 2  
    Online since June 19, 2017

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Ju/'hoansi Lodging in a Namibian Conservancy: CBNRM, Tourism and Increasing Domination
Stasja Koot, Walter van Beek
April-June 2017, 15(2):136-146
Following Ingold's dwelling perspective, the world comes into being because an organism/person is continuously interacting with his/her environment through bodily activity. Ingold contrasts dwelling with building; in the latter, people construct the world cognitively before they can live in it. In this paper, we add the concept of 'lodging' to refer to a situation in which people live in an environment that contains increasing dominating powers. Under the influence of conservation and the implementation of a Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme, with a strong focus on tourism, the environment of the Ju/'hoansi Bushmen of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in Namibia has changed dramatically. In this paper, we use various examples to show how the environment has become more dominant, often in very subtle ways. We argue that the Ju/'hoansi do not dwell as they used to, but lodge instead in an environment that is increasingly influenced by CBNRM and tourism activities. Some of the Ju/'hoansi's agency has become limited to acquiescing; they passively adapt to and cope with the changes in their environment, while others have shown a more active adaptation strategy.
  3,400 396 -
The Cultural Politics of Sacred Groves: A Case Study of Devithans in Sikkim, India
Amitangshu Acharya, Alison Ormsby
April-June 2017, 15(2):232-242
Sacred groves are areas that are conserved by communities for spiritual or cultural beliefs. They often have associated limitations on activities within the forest. India is believed to have the highest concentration of sacred groves in the world. However, in our research of devithan s – Nepali sacred groves – in the eastern Himalayan state of Sikkim, India, we reveal that their very existence in India has long remained unacknowledged in sacred natural site research. By researching the proliferation of devithan s in the village of Biring, East Sikkim, we not only foreground their existence, but also unpack their cultural politics to reveal the contestations and appropriations around the symbolic value of sacred sites. Given that historically the Buddhist Lepcha-Bhutias' cultural association with Sikkim's sacred landscape has been celebrated, while that of Nepali ethnic groups has been largely invisibilised, we argue that devithan s have emerged as a potential political instrument for the latter to validate political and cultural claims to Sikkim's sacred landscape. The predominant tone in sacred grove scholarship in India has largely been anchored in the language of ecology, and tends to understand sacred groves as communal sites without exploring the associated constitutive politics. By using a cultural politics lens to understand devithan s, this research expands beyond simplistic narratives to focus on present day cultural politics that are internal to communities that often not only sustain groves, but also help them to proliferate.
  3,185 497 -
What Does Conservation Mean for Women? the Case of the Cantanhez Forest National Park
Susana Costa, Catarina Casanova, Phyllis Lee
April-June 2017, 15(2):168-178
Community-based conservation programmes need to engage the support of all its members. Gender is a key component in shaping attitudes about conservation, and lack of attention to gender differences in perceptions can work against the aims of community-based conservation actions and initiatives. We present a study of the obstacles to women's participation in conservation strategies associated with Cantanhez Forest National Park (CFNP), in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. Field-work took place in CFNP over two years, 2007-2008. Five women-only focus group interviews (N=47 participants) were conducted to understand the perceived effects of CFNP's establishment on women's daily activities, livelihoods and future expectations. The findings revealed that the women felt the Park was responsible for malnutrition in the communities due to damage of crops by wildlife. Although they were promised compensation, most of the farming households are still waiting for reimbursements for crop damage. Women expressed an unwillingness to directly participate in conservation efforts related to CFNP, but they believed that park researchers could help them to improve their lives.
  3,042 465 -
Intimate Exclusions from the REDD+ forests of Sungai Lamandau, Indonesia
Peter Howson
April-June 2017, 15(2):125-135
Due to land-use conversions for palm oil, mining and other extractive industries, Indonesia remains the largest contributor of greenhouse gases from primary forest loss in the world. Nowhere are solutions to large-scale forest loss more urgently required. To reverse the trend, the Government of Indonesia is banking on carbon market mechanisms like the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) programme. REDD+ is designed to enable the provision of economic compensations to protect forests by making them more valuable standing than cut down. The Sungai Lamandau REDD+ demonstration activity is unique in Indonesia as the first REDD+ project officially proposed by a community group upon land they hope to manage autonomously. Despite the project's 'bottom-up' architecture, for some, access to Sungai Lamandau's REDD+ benefits remain exclusive. These exclusions are not only something imposed by powerful external actors, but has emerged endogenously, through the everyday functioning of gendered market relations, and community-based socio-environmental and ethno-territorial movements. This paper adopts a feminist-inspired intimacy-geopolitics to explore the nuanced powers of exclusion used by Sungai Lamandau's farmers to access the project's non-monetary REDD+ benefits. The paper focuses on 'intimate exclusions' – everyday processes of accumulation and dispossession among villagers and small-holders. In doing so, it highlights the hazards of developing REDD+ projects structured with limited sympathy for marginalised actors. Although the seemingly 'inclusive' benefits sharing structure attracted excellent ethical carbon credit ratings, the project still failed to address (and even exacerbated) existing inequalities – a root cause of Sungai Lamandau's forest degradation.
  2,744 558 -
Contesting Justice in Global Forest Governance: The Promises and Pitfalls of REDD+
Kimberly R Marion Suiseeya
April-June 2017, 15(2):189-200
For more than 30 years, diverse actors in global forest governance have sought to address the justice concerns of forest peoples—concerns about displacement, marginalisation, and loss of identity—related to forest interventions. Despite the mainstreaming of justice obligations into the global forest governance architecture and the proliferation of justice practices across multiple scales of governance, claims of injustice persist. The growing prominence of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus the enhancement of carbon stocks (REDD+) as a primary mechanism for addressing global forest loss and degradation has again directed attention to the justice effects of global forest policies on forest peoples across the Global South. While REDD+ proponents argue that safeguard procedures and participatory processes will promote justice, opponents argue REDD+ will exacerbate injustices. To generate new insights into the persistent justice debates in REDD+, this paper draws attention to the role of norms in constraining and shaping policy designs and outcomes. It asks: to what extent and how does REDD+ as articulated in UNFCCC decisions respond to the established justice trajectory in global forest governance? How do current approaches in REDD+ create and constrain opportunities for justice for forest peoples? An empirical analysis of justice norms in global forest governance, including REDD+, demonstrate that while justice possibilities under REDD+ could narrow, opportunities for norm contestation are expanding. These additional opportunities can create conditions conducive to broader norm shifts in global forest governance.
  2,608 432 -
Indicators for Ecosystem Conservation and Protected Area Designation in the Mediterranean Context
El-Hajj Rita, Khater Carla, Tatoni Thierry, AlA A Adam, Vela Errol
April-June 2017, 15(2):217-231
Protected areas constitute a key foundation for national and international strategies of effective biodiversity and ecosystems conservation. Yet, they are not islands; they are components of their surrounding social and ecological contexts. Reconciling biodiversity conservation, people, protected areas and sustainable livelihoods requires a focused strategic planning for conservation and development. The designation of new reserves must be thus based on sound indicators within ecological, socioeconomic, institutional, and financial contexts. Many of the ecological and socioeconomic indicators have been designed for this purpose by practitioners and conservation planners around the world. Although these indicators are crucial to orient conservation priorities and protected areas' designation patterns, their identification remains a big challenge, largely due to the fact that an indicator is a simplification of a system (whether natural or social) which is characterized by high structural complexity, considerable spatial heterogeneity and temporal fluctuations. This paper presents a review of ecological and socioeconomic indicators globally used to orient conservation planning on the global and national levels. It also suggests a set of suitable, relevant, and practical set of indicators, adapted to Mediterranean-type continental environments.
  2,387 386 -
Mapping Scenario Narratives: A Technique to Enhance Landscape-scale Biodiversity Planning
Oberon Carter, Michael Mitchell, Luciana L Porfririo, Sonia Hugh, Michael Lockwood, Louise Gilfedder, Edward C Lefroy
April-June 2017, 15(2):179-188
Developing regional scenarios enables planners to engage land managers in discussions about the future, especially in contexts that are complex, uncertain and difficult to control. Richly-crafted qualitative narratives are an effective way to document future scenarios that integrate social, economic and biophysical attributes. Converting such narratives into spatial representations of future landscapes often relies on computational modelling. This paper presents an alternative technique. Key themes from scenario narratives are translated into spatial representations using simple rule sets within a Geographic Information System (GIS). The technique was applied to a case study exploring future scenarios for biodiversity in a predominantly privately-owned agricultural landscape. Iterative analysis of scenarios and their spatial implications enables land managers to explore outcomes from potential interventions and identify strategies that might mitigate the impact of future issues of environmental concern.
  2,295 363 -
Persistent Neoliberalisation in PES: Taxes, Tariffs, and the World Bank in Costa Rica
Brett Sylvester Matulis
April-June 2017, 15(2):147-156
Recent critiques of 'payments for ecosystem services' (PES) and other market-based instruments for environmental conservation have noted that such mechanisms rarely (if ever) operate according to idealised market rules. The characterisation of PES as a form of 'neoliberal conservation', therefore, has been questioned and even deemed to be misguided. While close examination of local context and micropolitics often reveals a nuanced view of contested and hybrid implementation, similar analysis can also reveal the way that officials continue to steer programs towards market ideals. In this paper, I consider the case of Costa Rica's national Pagos por Servicios Ambientales (PSA) program, to suggest that–in spite of its imperfect correspondence to an idealised neoliberal model–it is undergoing a continual process of neoliberalisation. I explore, in particular, the evolution of PSA financing, which has shifted (under the influence of two World Bank projects) towards direct financialised transactions between 'users' and 'providers' of ecosystem services. The paper provides a historical account of the complex (and sometimes contradictory) processes that have produced the program's current hybrid neoliberal form. It explores World Bank / Costa Rica relations and market-oriented interventions to the financing of ecosystem service payments, and it explains that (despite inherent contradictions inhibiting market formation) neoliberal actors within the state can still implement mechanisms designed to approximate markets.
  2,190 387 -
Turbulent Terrains: The Contradictions and Politics of Decentralised Conservation
V Corey Wright
April-June 2017, 15(2):157-167
The most salient feature of conservation today is contradiction. Conservation is simultaneously characterized by decentralisation and recentralisation, deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation, deregulation and reregulation. At the heart of these contradictions are reconfigurations of state-society relations, provoking unprecedented risk but also opportunity for rural communities. Paramount to these processes is the threat of 'recentralizing while decentralizing' (Ribot et al. 2006). Governments decentralise authority while simultaneously finding ways to retain central control and maintain their political and/or economic interests. Recentralising while decentralising especially defines Tanzania's most recent decentralisation scheme, Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). This paper contributes to the debate about WMAs and the nature of decentralisation. The WMAs, I argue, represent risk but also opportunity for rural communities. Amidst the contradictions and conundrum of decentralising and recentralising, new political spaces invariably emerge, wherein novel alliances, political community, and resistance unfold. In cases like Enduimet and Lake Natron WMAs, this has translated into appropriating and redeploying WMAs in ways that privilege community interests. Notwithstanding the significant constraints that continue jeopardizing most WMAs, the cases reviewed in this paper offer some hope for WMAs' turbulent terrains.
  2,125 388 -
Human Niche Construction: Noongar Evidence in Pre-colonial Southwestern Australia
Alison Lullfitz, Joe Dortch, Stephen D Hopper, Carol Pettersen, Ron(Doc) Reynolds, David Guilfoyle
April-June 2017, 15(2):201-216
Through a lens of Human Niche Construction theory, we examine Noongar (an indigenous people of south western Australia) relationships with southwestern Australian flora and suggest influences of these relationships on contemporary botanical patterns in this global biodiversity hotspot. By conducting a review of historical and contemporary literature and drawing upon the contemporary knowledge of Noongar Elders, we examine the merits of five key hypotheses of human niche construction theory in relation to this large cultural group. We find compelling evidence that supports Noongar niche construction, but caution that further research is required to test its likely ecological and evolutionary outcomes. We suggest that further collaborative, multi-disciplinary research that applies Noongar and Western science will lead to a greater understanding of the biological assets of southwestern Australia.
  2,059 323 -