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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| July-September  | Volume 16 | Issue 3  
    Online since July 2, 2018

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Compensation as a Policy for Mitigating Human-wildlife Conflict Around Four Protected Areas in Rajasthan, India
McKenzie F Johnson, Krithi K Karanth, Erika Weinthal
July-September 2018, 16(3):305-319
In India, human-wildlife conflict (HWC) around protected areas (PAs) has magnified social conflict over conservation and development priorities. India introduced financial compensation for HWC as a policy solution to simultaneously promote human security while protecting biodiversity. We evaluate compensation as a mitigation policy for HWC around four protected areas in Rajasthan (Jaisamand, Sitamata, Phulwari, and Kumbhalgarh). We argue that compensation is failing to reconcile conservation and development priorities for two reasons. First, a focus on charismatic megafauna obscures the livelihood costs of human-wildlife interactions as reported by households, especially conflict perpetrated by non-priority herbivores like antelope. This highlights disagreements about what constitutes 'acceptable' conservation costs between communities and the state. Second, government bureaucrats control the compensation process, a model incongruent with the highly negotiated and reciprocal nature of environmental governance at local levels. Using interviews with Rajasthan Forest Department officials (n=21) and household surveys (n=2234), we argue that compensation is a policy designed to conserve (internationally) threatened species and not to safeguard local livelihoods. Ultimately, we suggest that policy solutions that are insensitive to local ecological and social dynamics can undermine efforts to reconcile conservation and development goals.
  4,041 669 -
The Politics of Environmental Knowledge
Esther Turnhout
July-September 2018, 16(3):363-371
This essay offers a critical engagement with the ideal of policy relevant environmental knowledge. Using examples in environmental governance and conservation, it argues that by packaging knowledge in terms and categories that are considered politically salient, scientists do not just inform policy-making by providing information about presumed pre-existing objects in nature and environment; rather, science is constitutive of those objects and renders them amenable for policy and governance. These political implications of scientific knowledge imply a need for critical scrutiny of the interests that science serves and fails to serve as well as mechanisms to ensure the accountability of science. This essay is a modified and expanded version of the inaugural lecture with the same title that was delivered on June 2, 2016 at Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
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The Vulnerable Bison: Practices and Meanings of Rewilding in the Romanian Carpathians
Monica Vasile
July-September 2018, 16(3):217-231
This paper discusses new conservation practices in the Romanian Carpathians, focusing on the recent reintroduction of bison in the framework of larger rewilding initiatives. It reveals the complexities of rewilding on the ground, through an empirical study that captures different local narratives, reflecting on how they emerge relationally, articulated within larger social dynamics and structures of feeling. I draw on empirical data, surveys and interviews that I collected in 2016 in two communities, one where bison were reintroduced in 2014 and one where they will be reintroduced at a later point. In the Carpathian Mountains the bison is well known among locals and its charisma works to the advantage of the rewilding project. Yet, the study reveals how rewilding raises a series of unresolved tensions, between wild and domestic, between natural selection and care, between uncertainty and security. It finds different local meanings at play around bison rewilding processes, and more broadly around wildlife conservation practices, which can be grouped into three major narratives— 1) wildlife tourism narrative; 2) intrinsic value of nature narrative; 3) bio-threat narrative. The study argues that such narratives, while questioning the possibility of co-existence of humans and animals, suggest a shared vulnerability of bison and rural communities.
  3,201 741 -
Changes in Media Portrayal of Human-wildlife Conflict During Successive Fatal Shark Bites
Etienne Sabatier, Charlie Huveneers
July-September 2018, 16(3):338-350
Encounters between humans and wildlife that result in human fatalities can generate public anxiety and increase pressure on conservation managers and governments for risk mitigation. Low probability-high consequence events such as shark bites on humans attract substantial media attention for short time periods, but how the media react when several of these rare but fatal events occur in quick succession has seldom been subject to quantitative analysis. Understanding media portrayal of such encounters is important because it both reflects and influences public perceptions of risks, mitigation measures, and conservation policies. This study examined media portrayals of sharks between 2011 and 2013 in the state of Western Australia during which six shark bites resulting in fatalities occurred. We analysed 361 shark-related articles published in major Western Australian newspapers over 26 months to trace changes in media reporting about sharks prior to, during, and after the six fatalities. The findings indicate that when rare, but fatal human-wildlife events occur in quick succession, negative framing by media of wildlife behaviour and threats can exaggerate public anxiety about the pervasive presence of wildlife predators and high risk of human fatalities. The study highlights the need for government agencies and conservation scientists to better engage with media to provide accurate and effective information and advice to swimmers and surfers about shark ecology and behaviour.
  3,355 425 -
Practising Nature: A Phenomenological Rethinking of Environmentality in Natural Protected Areas in Ecuador and Spain
Jose A Cortes-Vazquez, Esteban Ruiz-Ballesteros
July-September 2018, 16(3):232-242
The literature on environmentality analyses how local people living in natural protected areas might come to care about, act in relation to, and think of their own actions in terms of environmental protection by becoming actively involved in conservation government and management. In this paper we contribute to a clearer, broader, and more nuanced understanding of the connection between different regulatory regimes and the formation of environmental subjects, using a phenomenological approach that places more emphasis on the agency of the people subjected to conservation. In particular, we examine how people living in three different natural protected areas in Ecuador and Spain negotiate, incorporate, and contest different regulatory frames of conservation; how, in this process, they end up creating and enacting new forms of practice that neither infringe nor fully comply with these regulations. With this analysis, our paper seeks to show that even if conservation makes the inhabitants of natural protected areas act and think differently, these people also have the capacity to manipulate these transformations via the creative use of different environmentalities and under the influence of their own interests, habits, affects, and situated forms of human-environment engagement.
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Why Exchange Values are Not Environmental Values: Explaining the Problem with Neoliberal Conservation
Karen Allen
July-September 2018, 16(3):243-256
In recent years, scholars have critiqued neoliberal conservation, asserting that neoliberal conservation policies tend to have ineffective outcomes and reinforce existing power relations. I build on this research by using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data from research in the Bellbird Biological Corridor, Costa Rica. I demonstrate that only a small subset of values for sustainable land uses align with monetary exchange values for ecosystem services, and I suggest that this may result in neoliberal conservation policy in the region having a perverse impact on long-term sustainability. Mixed methods data show that across the study area landowners engage differently with neoliberal conservation mechanisms, and market fluency is one of the factors shaping this interaction. Results further show how policy that emphasises an exchange value view of environmental benefits reflects an over-simplification of values that can undermine ecological sustainability by promoting short-term values of “competitive land uses.” This research highlights that integrating ecosystem services into marketable goods renders neoliberal conservation policies inadequate, and subject to volatile market fluctuations. I suggest that conservation policy should reinforce multifaceted social values toward sustainable landscapes, rather than promote economic incentives that reduce environmental benefits to exchange value.
  2,560 675 -
Understanding the Relationship Between Livelihood Constraints of Poor Forest-adjacent Residents, and Illegal Forest Use, at Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Ian E Munanura, Kenneth F Backman, Jeffrey C Hallo, Robert B Powell, Edwin Sabuhoro
July-September 2018, 16(3):291-304
The relationship between livelihoods and forest use is one of the main challenges facing wildlife and habitat conservation in developing countries. Poor residents in forest-adjacent areas are typically perceived to be the main forest users, with use often deemed illegal. However, there is still a limited understanding of livelihood constraints of the poor, and how such constraints influence illegal forest use, particularly for poor residents in forest-adjacent communities. In this paper, we address this gap. First, the measures for livelihood constraints, including food access constraints and education constraints, and illegal forest use are proposed. Second, the developed measures are used in a structural equation model, to explore the relationship between livelihood constraints and illegal forest use, for poor residents in communities adjacent to Volcanoes National Park, in Rwanda. Food access constraints, a dimension of food security constraints, were found to be the strongest predicator of illegal forest use. However, food insecure residents around the park may not be the main driver of current levels of illegal forest use, supporting previous research questioning the narrative of poverty driven illegal forest use in developing countries.
  2,755 411 -
Integrated Measures of Indigenous Land and Sea Management Effectiveness: Challenges and Opportunities for Improved Conservation Partnerships in Australia
Beau J Austin, Catherine J Robinson, James A Fitzsimons, Marcus Sandford, Emilie J Ens, Jennifer M Macdonald, Marc Hockings, David G Hinchley, Fergus B McDonald, Colleen Corrigan, Rod Kennett, Hmalan Hunter-Xenie, Stephen T Garnett
July-September 2018, 16(3):372-384
As partnerships between Indigenous peoples and conservation practitioners mature, new methods are being sought to assess their effectiveness. The increasing diversity of income sources mobilised by Indigenous land and sea managers in Australia is intensifying the pressures on them to demonstrate their 'effectiveness' through a range of frameworks, tools and criteria. In this review, we use Indigenous land and sea management in Australia as a lens to explore the politics and practicalities of measuring the effectiveness of Indigenous conservation partnerships. We first outline current approaches to measuring effectiveness, followed by an explanation of some of the challenges. Available literature is then supplemented with the collective knowledge and experience of the authors to identify practical and achievable ways forward. We suggest four ways by which Indigenous groups and institutional investors can work together to establish meaningful criteria for ensuring effective conservation outcomes: i) develop new mutually-agreed definitions; ii) embrace the complexity of Indigenous-conservation alliances, iii) reflect regularly and collaboratively, and iv) negotiate which indicators of effectiveness can be aggregated across large scales. Well-executed evaluations of effectiveness can be powerful tools for enhancing conservation that conforms to local Indigenous values, facilitates adaptive management, and strengthens relationships between investors and Indigenous groups. By focusing on principles, process, flexibility and trust, generative 'good faith' approaches have the potential to support win-win outcomes for people and the environment and contribute significantly to global conservation and sustainability targets.
  2,285 326 -
Living in a Cage: The Intimate Geographies of Conservation in South Africa and Tanzania
John Reid-Hresko
July-September 2018, 16(3):280-290
National parks are socially produced conservation spaces that shape the lives, understandings, and behaviours of the men and women who live and work within them. This article draws on 18 months of comparative ethnographic research with men and women who are employed and reside inside in protected areas in northern Tanzania and South Africa's Kruger National Park. Protected area management decisions regarding the migration, isolation, concentration, and living arrangements of employees combine with structural forces of relational material inequality and varied understandings of gender relations to produce geographies of intimacy that shape both perceptions and patterns of sexual and emotive behaviours in powerful, and potentially troublesome, ways among conservation actors. Although the specific configuration of this constellation of forces is context dependent and unique to each location, there are also discernable similarities across national context. Given the human resource intensive nature of conservation, these findings have direct relevance for the future success of national parks in both countries and for conservation more generally.
  1,614 271 -
National Park Declassification in Mexico: Between Propaganda, Legitimisation and Bargaining
Clotilde Lebreton
July-September 2018, 16(3):268-279
This article analyses the discursive, participative, and negotiation practices in the territorialised public action that occurred during the category change of the Nevado de Toluca Protected Area in Mexico—i.e. the declassification from a high conservation status to a more flexible one. We use a sociological approach for the analysis of the three public policy instruments, namely discourse, participatory mechanisms, and negotiation agreements, implemented by the Mexican government to accompany this change. The analysis reveals how the government instrumentalised this declassification in order to construct an environmental problem to legitimise public intervention and neutralise existing conflicts around specific scientific and democratic controversies. As a result, despite the use of supposedly more democratic and participatory instruments, Mexican conservation policies remain rooted in top-down approaches.
  1,644 221 -
Exploring Institutional Factors Influencing Equity in Two Payments for Ecosystem Service Schemes
Juliet Kariuki, Regina Birner, Susan Chomba
July-September 2018, 16(3):320-337
Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are considered promising instruments for promoting conservation and addressing socio-economic goals, including equity. While several studies analyse how institutions enable the delivery of cost effective conservation, fewer studies focus on the role that informal institutions play in influencing equitable outcomes especially in Africa. Focussing on the role of formal and informal institutions, this article contributes to the emergence of work that reflects alternative conceptualisations to mainstream neoclassical understandings of PES. A qualitative research approach is applied analysing two Kenyan cases to illustrate how historical institutional processes influence present day equity outcomes. The study explores both procedural and distributive equity. The results reveal that despite very similar land tenure origins, the schemes differ considerably regarding their equity outcomes. Formal and informal institutional interplay was found to influence perceptions of land value over time and bargaining processes are identified as determinants of the different equity outcomes. The study also reveals that institutional interplay may influence the simultaneous achievement of different equity dimensions. The study therefore recommends the integration of mechanisms that reconcile both formal and informal institutions, such as land tenure distribution and cultural norms in design and implementation of PES schemes to better achieve equity.
  1,598 261 -
Austerity Politics and the Post-Politicisation of Conservation Governance in Canada
Megan Youdelis
July-September 2018, 16(3):257-267
Several notable controversies around private sector interests in national parks throughout Canada have erupted within the last five years. These controversies are arising within the context of budget cuts to Parks Canada and related imperatives to increase visitor numbers and 'visitor experience' to recoup costs and strengthen public support for Canadian parks. While the majority of the literature on the neoliberalisation of conservation focuses on its socio-environmental implications, this research highlights some important political implications of the increasing role of private interests in conservation practice due to state level austerity politics. This article outlines the post-politics of public consultation in Jasper National Park through a study of two public contestations around private tourism development in the park. I argue that austerity politics create the conditions for a re-articulation of the politics of conservation governance as the interests of parks departments and private sector interests are brought into alignment. Austerity-related restructuring of conservation practice elevates the importance of public-private partnerships for sustaining the viability of the park system, contributing to the construction of a post-political 'there is no alternative' discourse where neoliberal ideology in conservation is elevated beyond critique. To facilitate development, managers employ various strategies to reduce democratic oversight of public provisioning, removing opportunities for political debate and dissensus and orchestrating the appearance of consensual decision-making.
  1,564 250 -
Rehearsing Inclusive Participation Through Fishery Stakeholder Workshops in the Philippines
Deborah Cleland, Raissa Ocaya San Jose
July-September 2018, 16(3):351-362
Participatory methods in 'conservation for development' projects regularly fail to live up to expectations of social and environmental change. Stakeholder workshops are an ubiquitous example that can reproduce rather than challenge inequality and exclusion. Technical tools used in workshops, like maps, games, and computer models, are criticised for unjustly privileging expert/scientific viewpoints over other perspectives. Iris Marion Young's theory of communicative democracy is an insightful and robust framework to examine how people interact in the workshop 'contact zone', and how to bring workshops closer to participatory ideals. Young identifies four communication modes critical for inclusive participation: greeting, rhetoric, narrative, and argument. We apply her framework to a case study of fisheries stakeholder workshops in the Philippines, demonstrating its utility and cultural applicability. The workshops used a game-based computer modelling tool to structure discussions about coastal management. Qualitative analysis of video data shows how stakeholders signalled resistance, garnered sympathy, influenced outcomes, and established relationships through Young's modes of communication. Based on this analysis, and using concepts from Philippine psychology, we conclude that workshops have potential as 'rehearsal spaces' for inclusive deliberation, particularly when they encourage improvisation and humour, rather than rote adherence to standardised activities.
  1,547 236 -
Nature of Spectacle
Andrés León Araya
July-September 2018, 16(3):385-386
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