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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   2018| January-March  | Volume 16 | Issue 1  
    Online since March 26, 2018

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Modern Wildlife Monitoring Technologies: Conservationists versus Communities? A Case Study: The Terai-Arc Landscape, Nepal
Yashaswi Shrestha, Renaud Lapeyre
January-March 2018, 16(1):91-101
The use of new and advanced wildlife monitoring technologies is shifting the paradigm of wildlife conservation and management. These digital technologies are helping wildlife conservationists and researchers around the world to monitor and manage wildlife with more precision and efficiency. However, this research study highlights some of the key drawbacks of using such modern technologies for wildlife conservation and management especially in developing countries, where the digital divide often clearly separates well-endowed conservation organisations and rural communities. It provides an insight into how the extensive use of such digital wildlife monitoring technologies can often marginalise the role of local and indigenous communities in wildlife management. Our case study, which was conducted in the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) in southern Nepal, includes interviews with several wildlife experts, biologists, and members of local and indigenous communities. Findings indicate that the increasing militarisation and centralisation of protected area management, and the lack of universal access to the information gathered using modern monitoring technologies, have notably led to the marginalisation of local and indigenous communities in the region. These developments not only undermine the benefits of using such technologies but have also caused a rift between conservation organisations and local communities. As a result, this research study recommends that conservation organisations who advocate for the use of such technologies need to hold consultations and dialogues between conservationists and local and indigenous community members in order to be more inclusive and allow for a cross cultural and an interdisciplinary understanding of the best practices for the conservation and management of wildlife.
  3,432 451 -
Introduction: Affective Ecologies and Conservation
Neera M Singh
January-March 2018, 16(1):1-7
Engaging the affective and materialist turn in the social sciences, this special section elaborates on how analytical attention on affect and affective relations is central to understanding human-nature relations and to conservation interventions. The contributors to this section use conceptual resources from affect theory, new materialism, and indigenous ontologies to illustrate the practical significance of paying attention to affect in understanding nature-society relations. This introduction reviews these conceptual resources to make a case for affective political ecology.
  2,670 685 -
Transformed Territories of Gendered Care Work in Ecuador's Petroleum Circuit
Cristina Cielo, Nancy Carrión Sarzosa
January-March 2018, 16(1):8-20
This article explores the transformation of indigenous women's care work in the Ecuadorian Amazon, as their communities are increasingly integrated into petroleum industry activities. Care work activities–not only for social reproduction, but also to sustain cycles of fertility, growth and waste interdependent with nature–constitute affective ecologies. In development sites of Ecuador's petroleum circuit, such activities are domesticated and devalued, and the territories produced by women's care work are progressively delimited. Once aimed at social and natural reproduction, their care practices now focus on household and familial reproduction. This article is based on two years of ethnographic and qualitative research in indigenous communities of the Amazonian provinces of Sucumbíos and Pastaza. We bring feminist economic approaches to the study of affective ecologies to show how fundamental changes in inhabitants' historically shaped relationships to, and conservation of, nature both depend on and produce gendered ecological and socioeconomic relations.
  1,879 244 -
“It's Just a Matter of Time:” Lessons from Agency and Community Responses to Polar Bear-inflicted Human Injury
Aimee L Schmidt, Douglas A Clark
January-March 2018, 16(1):64-75
Bear-inflicted human injuries or deaths are often widely publicised, controversial, and evoke substantial social responses that articulate public expectations about bear management. In this paper, we examine how local people and management agencies (i.e. Manitoba Conservation, Parks Canada, and the Town of Churchill) responded to a polar bear-inflicted human injury in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. On November 1st, 2013, two people in Churchill were badly mauled by a polar bear. The incident shocked the community, highlighted problems such as a lack of bear safety education, and led to reviews of institutional policies for preventing polar bear-human conflicts. We used qualitative analysis methods to describe what is said (about polar bears, about people, and about management) and what is done (changes in behaviours and changes in policies/practices) when someone is attacked by a polar bear in Churchill. Results show that polar bear management agencies in Churchill respond remarkably well to errors in procedure, but are often unable to address the many underlying systematic drivers of polar bear-human conflict. Hence, managerial reactions to bear-human conflicts are successful at addressing the proximate cause of the problem, but offer few long-term solutions.
  1,808 254 -
Restoration and the Affective Ecologies of Healing: Buffalo and the Fort Peck Tribes
Julia Hobson Haggerty, Elizabeth Lynne Rink, Robert McAnally, Elizabeth Bird
January-March 2018, 16(1):21-29
Intentional acts of restoration are purported to have a multitude of benefits, not only for non-human nature, but for the people who conduct restoration. Yet, there is limited scholarship that considers the nature of these benefits in all of their complexity, including psychological and spiritual dimensions. Using the case study of the restoration of bison/buffalo by the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes to their reservation in Montana, USA, we observe that ecological restoration can promote and facilitate emergent and dynamic processes of reconnection at the scale of individuals, across species and within community. In an indigenous setting marked by historical trauma and other challenges, these re-connections have therapeutic benefits that align with the relationality that mental health frameworks suggest is a key protective factor for many indigenous people. Affective experiences of and with buffalo play an important role in building and articulating that therapeutic relationality in our case study. Our work points out the importance of access to spaces of affective ecologies and personal investment in spiritual traditions as elements of the therapeutic benefits of restoration in this case, raising questions and possibilities for future research that considers patterns and avenues of diffusion of restoration benefits within social groups more broadly.
  1,720 310 -
Monitoring in Tropical National Parks: The Power of Knowledge
Ruppert Vimal, Tsegaye Gatiso, Raphael Mathevet
January-March 2018, 16(1):76-90
Monitoring is increasingly recognised as a key instrument for effective nature conservation. It attempts to provide quantitative knowledge to implement conservation actions upon scientific evidence. However, science studies have shown that monitoring is not only a simple technical choice but also carries a cognitive representation of the world and plays a social role. Based on a socioethnographic approach involving 94 semi-structured interviews in seven national parks in tropical Africa and Indonesia, the objective of this study is to analyse the different dimensions of the relation between expertise and power, in the context of postcolonial environmental policies. Drawing on the limitations of monitoring programmes to guide management, this paper shows their unexpected roles and indirect effects. Monitoring appears as a means to provide parks with an effective existence following two dimensions. First, it enacts and contributes to convey a cognitive representation of nature conservation in those areas. Overall, monitoring programmes concentrate predominantly on long term scientific knowledge rather than on pragmatic and action driven knowledge. The majority of programmes focuses on conserving charismatic species and banning illegal activities inside the park rather than on fostering sustainable human activities around the park. Second, the implementation of monitoring programmes gives the parks a material dimension. It provides human, financial, and logistical resources, it controls the parks' activities and structures the parks' governance and administration. Therefore, the day-to-day use of indicators and technical instruments relies less on their ability to drive action than on their capacity to shape power relationships and to produce a social reality. Our findings question the predominant place given to quantitative science and technique in nature conservation and the social conditions under which an evidence based policy can be implemented.
  1,770 219 -
Nature Interrupted: Affect and Ecology in the Wake of Volcanic Eruption in Japan
Eric J Cunningham
January-March 2018, 16(1):41-51
On September 27, 2014 Ontake-san, a volcano in the highlands of central Japan, unexpectedly erupted sending a plume of ash and rock miles into the atmosphere. Lodge and shrine structures were heavily damaged and more than 60 climbers lost their lives as a pyroclastic flow engulfed the mountain's summit. Humans have long dwelled on and around Ontake-san, maintaining their livelihoods through farming, gathering, and hunting. The mountain has also been the focus of religious devotion and spiritual training for hundreds of years, and spiritual practitioners still visit the mountain regularly. However, in the modern era, Ontake-san and its surrounding environment has also been a site of resource development and exploitation, including industrial forestry, dam building, and tourist recreation. Thus, the mountain occupies, and its eruption occurred within, a landscape of contested meanings and values embodied by various entities and materially inscribed through their actions and interactions. In this article I employ an affective ecology framework to consider Ontake-san's eruption as an interruptive 'destabilizing moment' within which new trajectories and life projects may emerge. I argue that the affective qualities of local life projects present challenges to dominant modes of conservation, resource development, and capital accumulation.
  1,553 217 -
Volunteer Environmental Stewardship and Affective Labour in Philadelphia
Alec Foster
January-March 2018, 16(1):52-63
Recent research has critically evaluated the rapid growth of volunteer urban environmental stewardship. Framings of this phenomenon have largely focused upon environmentality and/or neoliberal environments, unfortunately often presenting a totalising picture of the state and/or market utilising power from above to create environmental subjects with limited agency available to local citizens. Based upon qualitative research with volunteer urban environmental stewards in Philadelphia, affective labour is proposed as an alternative explanation for participation. Stewards volunteered their time and labour due to the intense emotional attachments they formed with their neighbourhoods, neighbours, and nonhuman others in relationships of affective labour. Volunteer urban environmental stewardship as affective labour provides room for agency on the part of individuals and groups involved in volunteer urban environmental reproduction and opens up new ways of relating to and being with human and nonhuman others.
  1,490 232 -
Enterprising Nature: Economics, Markets and Finance in Global Biodiversity Politics
Ryan Hackett
January-March 2018, 16(1):102-103
  1,052 181 -
Interspecies Respect and Potato Conservation in the Peruvian Cradle of Domestication
Olivia Angé
January-March 2018, 16(1):30-40
This paper explores people and tuber affective encounters, as they unfold in a biodiversity conservation programme in the Peruvian Andes. It draws on ethnographic data from the Potato Park, renowned worldwide as one of the most successful in-situ initiatives for the conservation of biocultural diversity. Concerned with interspecies relations, the paper focusses on the circulation of respeto that is both an affect and a normative stance posited locally as necessary for the conservation of the potato. Addressing first expressions of respeto in daily potato practices by highland peasants, the paper then explores its importance within the context of the Park's conservation policy. Agricultural investigations and seed-banking are indeed enmeshed in activities intended to intensify potato-people regard. Throughout the paper, the concept of non-human charisma is used to point out the different kinds of potato appraisals experienced in the Park; as well as how the Park concretely works toward human beings' learning 'how to be affected' by tuber agrobiodiversity. The article finally explains how potato affective agency is extended beyond the Park, to reach the international scene. Exploring the Potato Park from the perspective of respeto, and using charisma as a heuristic tool, it enlightens a mode of conservation initiative; creating flourishing ecologies through affective encounters, that cannot be accounted for with an instrumental approach.
  1,030 14 -