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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| July-September  | Volume 15 | Issue 3  
    Online since September 29, 2017

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Is that Gun for the Bears? The National Park Service Ranger as a Historically Contradictory Figure
Alice B Kelly Pennaz
July-September 2017, 15(3):243-254
The “Yellowstone Model” of exclusionary, or fortress conservation, has spread widely across the globe since 1872. While in many other countries there has been a concomitant ever-increasing militarisation of park guards, the history of the United States (US) Park Ranger offers an alternative narrative. This paper traces the complex history of the US Park ranger through time to show how the Ranger as an outward embodiment of state power has been contradicted by administrative and practical logics directing rangers to educate, welcome, and guide park visitors. Rangers' work as territorial enforcers, and as strong-arms of the state has been tempered and defined by multiple disciplining forces over time. Using a political ecology approach, this paper examines how shifting political economic contexts, shifts in park use and park visitors, and a changing national law enforcement milieu influenced how and in what ways National Park Rangers have performed law enforcement in US parks over the past 100 years. The paper concludes by laying out why comparisons between US National Park Rangers and park guards in other parts of the world may be troubled by a number of socioeconomic and political factors.
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Drilling through Conservation Policy: Oil Exploration in Murchison Falls Protected Area, Uganda
Catrina A MacKenzie, Rebecca K Fuda, Sadie Jane Ryan, Joel Hartter
July-September 2017, 15(3):322-333
Approximately 2.5 billion barrels of commercially-viable oil, worth $2 billion in annual revenue for 20 years, were discovered under the Ugandan portion of the Albertine Rift in 2006. The region also contains seven of Uganda's protected areas and a growing ecotourism industry. We conducted interviews and focus groups in and around Murchison Falls Protected Area, Uganda's largest, oldest, and most visited protected area, to assess the interaction of oil exploration with the three primary conservation policies employed by Uganda Wildlife Authority: protectionism, neoliberal capital accumulation, and community-based conservation. We find that oil extraction is legally permitted inside protected areas in Uganda, like many other African countries, and that the wildlife authority and oil companies are adapting to co-exist inside a protected area. Our primary argument is that neoliberal capital accumulation as a conservation policy actually makes protected areas more vulnerable to industrial exploitation because nature is commodified, allowing economic value and profitability of land uses to determine how nature is exploited. Our secondary argument is that the conditional nature of protected area access inherent within the protectionist policy permits oil extraction within Murchison Falls Protected Area. Finally, we argue that community-based conservation, as operationalized in Uganda, has no role in defending protected areas against oil industrialisation.
  3,082 344 -
Rangeland Use Rights Privatisation Based on the Tragedy of the Commons: A Case Study from Tibet
Yonten Nyima Yundannima
July-September 2017, 15(3):270-279
Rangeland use rights privatisation based on a tragedy of the commons assumption has been the backbone of state policy on rangeland management and pastoralism in China. Through an empirical case study from Pelgon county, Tibet Autonomous Region in China, this paper provides an empirical analysis of rangeland use rights privatisation. It shows that the tragedy of the commons is not the correct model to apply to Tibetan pastoralism because pasture use in Tibet has never been an open-access institution. Thus, when the tragedy of the commons model is applied as a rationale for rangeland use rights privatisation, the result is not what is intended by the policy, but rather a misfit to features of pastoralism and thus disruption of the essence of pastoralism, i.e. mobility and flexibility. The paper further shows that a hybrid institution combining household rangeland tenure with community-based use with user fees is a restoration of the pastoralist institution. This demonstrates the capacity of pastoralists to create adaptive new institutions congruent with the interdependent and integrated nature of pastoralism consisting of three components: pastoralists, livestock, and rangeland.
  2,790 588 -
Towards an Indigenous Ecosystem Services Valuation Framework: A North Australian Example
Kamaljit Kaur Sangha, Jeremy Russell-Smith
July-September 2017, 15(3):255-269
Despite calls by various international agencies, considerable work is still required to understand and incorporate the importance of earth's ecosystems for informing public policies. Savannas comprise nearly one third of global terrestrial ecosystems and support many local and Indigenous communities, but the value of their ecosystem services (ES) is insufficiently understood. This study proposes an integrated ES valuation framework and applies it to assess ES for an Indigenous savanna estate in northern Australia, describing how capabilities along with biophysical and socio-cultural ES benefits play a vital role for peoples' wellbeing. We estimated the monetary value of ES by applying a conventional Basic Value Transfer (BVT) method for biophysical benefits (USD 84 M y-1), and a wellbeing approach for valuing socio-cultural benefits and capabilities (USD 4 M y-1). The latter offers a relatively nominal estimate but underscores the importance of including peoples' capabilities in order to demonstrate wellbeing benefits for Indigenous people who regularly visit and utilize their lands. We explore two scenarios, Business as Usual (pastoral land use) and ES-based economies (implying customary land use, particularly through fire management) to project plausible broader benefits for the community over a longer term. This research describes how inclusion of Indigenous peoples' capabilities and socio-cultural values are critical for ES assessments, and indicates that an integrated approach is essential for appropriately informing local, regional and global development policies.
  2,546 634 -
Well-Being Impacts of Human-Elephant Conflict in Khumaga, Botswana: Exploring Visible and Hidden Dimensions
Allison L Mayberry, Alice J Hovorka, Kate E Evans
July-September 2017, 15(3):280-291
High densities of wild African savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana) combined with widespread human land-use have increased human-elephant conflict in northern Botswana. Visible impacts (e.g. crop/property damage, injury/fatality) of elephants on human well-being are well documented in scholarly literature while hidden impacts (e.g. emotional stress, restricted mobility) are less so. This research uses qualitative methods to explore human experiences with elephants and perceived impacts of elephants on human well-being. Findings reveal participants are concerned about food insecurity and associated visible impacts of elephant crop raids. Findings also reveal participants are concerned about reduced safety and restricted mobility as hidden impacts threatening livelihoods and everyday life. Both visible and hidden impacts of elephants contribute to people's negative feelings towards elephants, as does the broader political context. This research emphasises the importance of investigating both visible and hidden impacts of elephants on human well-being to foster holistic understanding of human-elephant conflict scenarios and to inform future mitigation strategies.
  2,435 637 -
‘Man-eaters’ in the Media: Representation of Human-leopard Interactions in India Across Local, National, and International Media
Crystal A Crown, Kalli F Doubleday
July-September 2017, 15(3):304-312
Interactions between humans and wildlife are frequent in India, requiring stakeholders to devise mitigation strategies that benefit both humans and wildlife. Success of such initiatives can be impacted by stakeholders' perceptions of species and related issues, which may be unduly influenced by the media. This paper explores media representation of Human-Leopard Interactions (HLI) in India, focusing on detecting agenda-setting and framing in articles, and whether these differ with the level of association with HLI. To accomplish this, we coded articles (n=291) from three media-distribution levels with increasing detachment to HLI events: local news, Indian national news, and international news, and compared the types of agenda-setting and framing found across the three. Overall, international media had the most negative portrayal of leopards and HLI, while national had the most balanced. Local and international media included 'man-eater' framing in the majority of their stories; whereas stories of leopards as victims were most prominent in local news, and victim framing was most frequent in national. These results suggest that agenda-setting and framing may vary with association with HLI. Despite differences between sources, our findings suggest that all media distributions focused primarily on stories of leopards causing trouble (e.g., attacks and incursions), or in ways viewed as troublesome (e.g. incursions) with few stories of leopards as victims or informational pieces. The largely negative depiction, and differences in representation between geographic locations, could hinder mitigation strategies and policy through presenting stakeholders with incomplete information.
  2,531 358 -
“Charismatic Species and Beyond: How Cultural Schemas and Organisational Routines shape Conservation”
Monika Krause, Katherine Robinson
July-September 2017, 15(3):313-321
It has long been suggested that charismatic species attract a disproportionate amount of attention and resources in international conservation. This paper follows up on this observation and investigates how cultural schemas and organisational routines shape resource allocation in conservation more broadly. Based on 44 in-depth interviews with programme managers in international conservation NGOs and in zoos with conservation programmes, we argue, that routines establishing units of intervention in conservation work shape the allocation of resources in ways that are not directly based on conservation science. In addition to the role of species, and charismatic species in particular, we examine the role of countries as units of interventions and of focus countries as privileged sites among them. Some countries present better opportunities than others; some are favored by institutional donors. We also discuss the role of landscapes and charismatic landscapes and of solutions and charismatic solutions.
  2,285 491 -
Vacating the Floodplain: Urban Property, Engineering, and Floods in Brisbane (1974-2011)
Margaret Cook
July-September 2017, 15(3):344-354
This article exposes the dominant socio-economic and political values that shaped flood management between 1974 and 2011 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. By the 1970s, international hazard scholarship advocated regulating land use as an effective flood mitigation tool. In 1974, floods devastated Southeast Queensland and highlighted the hazards of building on floodplains. Drawing on scholarship that frames floods as a cultural, rather than natural event, this paper shows that the state government of Queensland prioritised property development and continued to rely on dam building as a way of controlling floods. Dams were built with the aim of providing immunity from flooding, but tensions between State and local governments allowed both to evade responsibility for the growing hazard arising from continuing development in the floodplain. When legislation and regulations were introduced to control floodplain development, they reflected popular sentiment against land use restrictions and hence were limited in scope, non-mandatory, and riddled with loopholes. The results of these inadequate land use regulations and continued residential development below the 100-year flood level were fully exposed in 2011 when a substantial increase in damages accompanied flooding of the Brisbane River. Despite evidence and predictions of increased risk of more frequent and larger floods from a warming climate, both state and local governments have continued to promote development in the Brisbane River floodplain, and appear willing to subject the city and its residents to increased hazards and vulnerability.
  2,070 244 -
The Politics of Conservation: Sonaha, Riverscape in the Bardia National Park and Buffer Zone, Nepal
Sudeep Jana Thing, Roy Jones, Christina Birdsall Jones
July-September 2017, 15(3):292-303
This paper problematises the recent participatory turn in nature conservation policy and practices through an ethnographic investigation of the experiences of the marginalised Sonaha (indigenous people of the region of Bardia where the national park is located) in relation to the conservation discourses, policies and practices of the Bardia National Park authorities in the Nepalese lowland. Since the mid-1990s, the country's conservation thinking and policy paradigms have shifted away from an earlier protectionist and fortress conservation focus towards more participatory approaches. However, for the Sonaha who are historically and culturally embedded in and derive their livelihoods from the riverscape in and around the Park, the pre-existing discourses and practices of strict nature conservation still impact adversely on their everyday lives. The paper argues that participatory reform, despite its strengths, has nevertheless reinforced the old conservation paradigm and hegemonic conservation discourses that normalised conservation violence and the marginalisation of the Sonaha. Based on critical ethnographic work with the Sonaha, we present a political ecology critique of conservation approaches. A case for rethinking contestations between indigenous peoples and national park managements is postulated.
  1,885 346 -
Optimal Monitoring Strategy to Detect Rule-breaking: A Power and Simulation Approach Parameterised with Field Data from Gola Rainforest National Park, Sierra Leone
Sorrel Jones, Malcolm D Burgess, Frazer Sinclair, Jeremy Lindsell, Juliet Vickery
July-September 2017, 15(3):334-343
Protected area designation aims to protect forests from illegal activities such as hunting. However, the effectiveness of protection and how this changes over time in response to protection measures is difficult to assess, including the design of monitoring programmes able to detect changes. We present new data on rule-breaking prevalence in Gola Rainforest National Park, Sierra Leone, and use these data in spatially explicit simulations to assess the survey effort and design required to detect change and assess the effect of rule-breaker behaviour to these designs. Despite being a protected area, rule-breaking (in the form of signs of hunting) occurred in almost 70% of 1 km survey squares but repeating this baseline survey of 53 survey squares would be insufficient to detect change. A much larger survey effort of 200-400 survey squares would be required to detect a 25% change in rule-breaking. Simulations highlight the extent to which rule-breaker behaviour, particularly hunter range size, influenced the likelihood of detecting change and importance of understanding this for survey design. A dedicated monitoring programme able to detect changes in the level of rule-breaking required an unrealistic level of resources, and we recommend combining monitoring with ranger patrol activities to reduce overall costs and employing questionnaire-based methods.
  1,490 372 -
Erratum: Mapping Scenario Narratives: A Technique to Enhance Landscape-scale Biodiversity Planning

July-September 2017, 15(3):355-355
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