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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| October-December  | Volume 16 | Issue 4  
    Online since September 27, 2018

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Human Bycatch: Conservation Surveillance and the Social Implications of Camera Traps
Chris Sandbrook, Rogelio Luque-Lora, William M Adams
October-December 2018, 16(4):493-504
Camera traps are widely used in conservation research and practice. They can capture images of people (‘human bycatch’), but little is known about how often this happens, or the implications for human rights, wellbeing, or conservation. We surveyed authors of published ecology and conservation studies that used camera traps. Over 90 percent of respondents reported that their projects had captured images of people, in most cases unintentionally. Despite this, images of people were widely used to inform conservation practice, demonstrating that camera traps are a key tool in emerging regimes of conservation surveillance. Human behaviour caught on camera included illegal activities and acts of protest. Some respondents reported positive conservation impacts of human bycatch, for example in law enforcement. However, others reported negative social impacts, such as infringing privacy and creating fear. We argue that these findings reveal a breach of commitment to do no harm and could undermine conservation success if they exacerbate conflict. Over 75 percent of respondents reported objections to or direct interference with camera traps, confirming opposition to their deployment. Many respondents recognise and take steps to mitigate these issues, but they are rarely discussed in the literature. Policy guidelines are needed to ensure the use of camera traps is ethically appropriate.
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The Persistence of Tightly Coupled Conflicts. The Case of Loisaba, Kenya
Arjaan Pellis, Annemiek Pas, Martijn Duineveld
October-December 2018, 16(4):387-396
Contributing to the debate on the multidimensional nature of resource-based conflicts in political ecology, and building upon Niklas Luhmann's Social Systems Theory, we have studied the persistent and shifting nature of conflicts as well as their dependencies on other conflicts in and around Loisaba conservancy. This private conservancy is situated in northern Laikipia (Kenya). For a long time, its management was focused on wildlife conservation, high-end tourism and commercial ranching. Developments and events at neighbouring ranches and community conservation areas shifted this focus. Decades of more or less peaceful regional co-existence has recently transformed into conflictual, sometimes even violent situations. At first sight, these emergent conflicts seem related to recurrent droughts, competing resource dependencies, national elections, or incitements by wealthy and influential politicians. For this study, however, we conceptualise conflicts as particular kinds of discourses that emerge, exist and change. This happens not only according to their own internal logics, but also through their dependencies with other conflict discourses. In this paper, we characterise the relations between conflicts on a range from tight to loose couplings and introduce three related forms of coupling (overpowering, resisting, and resonating) to provide a more detailed understanding of how conflicts may interrelate.
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Balancing Conservation and Livelihoods: A Study of Forest-dependent Communities in the Philippines
Mariya Chechina, Yannick Neveux, John R Parkins, Andreas Hamann
October-December 2018, 16(4):420-430
Forest-dependent communities in the tropics typically rank lower in socioeconomic status than agricultural and urban communities, and improving livelihood choices while protecting forest resources can be a difficult task. Conflicts can arise where biodiversity conservation objectives restrict resource access to forest communities. In this study, we investigate how land cover, land use, and protected area management affects communities around a forest reserve in the Philippines. We conduct a socioeconomic analysis at two scales: a municipal-level analysis relating land use to socioeconomic status, and a community-level analysis contrasting villages that are close to and distant from a protected forest area. While forest-dependent communities generally had fewer amenities and infrastructure than agricultural and urban communities, community-level analysis showed that socioeconomic status was higher in areas close to protected areas. The study provides a counter-example to other findings by showing that access to resources improves socioeconomic status for local communities while maintaining environmental protections. We conclude that incorporating local livelihoods into forest conservation strategies, such as collection of non-timber forest product, results in a measure of sustainability, which in turn has a significant positive impact on the socioeconomic well-being of communities near the protected area.
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Integrating Conservation and Sustainable Development Through Adaptive Co-management in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves
Julia Baird, Ryan Plummer, Lisen Schultz, Derek Armitage, Orjan Bodin
October-December 2018, 16(4):409-419
Integrating conservation and sustainable development is difficult, but organisations charged with this mandate must move forward with implementation. Adaptive Co-Management (ACM), an approach that brings together the learning function of adaptation with the linking function of collaboration, has been identified as a promising way to enhance the effectiveness of sustainable development without compromising conservation efforts. We examine four UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (BRs) to better understand the extent to which they exhibit characteristics of ACM integrated conservation and sustainable development and gain insights into how they do so. We find that the BRs we studied in Canada and Sweden undertake a substantial number of activities strongly oriented towards integration of conservation and development objectives. These activities involve a wide variety of actors in both on-the-ground implementation efforts and decision-making activities, create novel spaces for interaction among participants which contributes to their bridging ability, and draw on social networks, available assets and individuals' contributions to enable actions in pursuit of their integrative mandate. Insights into these activities and how they were undertaken can offer lessons for future practice and research within the World Biosphere Reserve Network, as well as conservation organisations more broadly. Although we demonstrate that significant efforts are being made towards integration of conservation and development, we nonetheless suggest that further studies should explicitly investigate if and how such integration actually lead to more desirable social and ecological outcomes.
  2,035 617 -
Edenic Views in Wetland Conservation: Nature and Agriculture in the Fogliano Area, Italy
Paolo Gruppuso
October-December 2018, 16(4):397-408
The article explores the genealogy of Edenic narratives about the Pontine Marshes in Agro Pontino, Italy, and the imaginary of the Bonifica Integrale (integral reclamation). This process of reclamation, implemented by the fascist regime throughout the 1930s, drained the Marshes transforming their ecological, economic, and social structure. The dominant reading of Agro Pontino's history is polarised through a dualistic view that sees the Marshes as the realm of an almost pristine nature and the Bonifica Integrale as a life-giving event that transformed that environment, making it cultivable and inhabitable. This view reflects a modernist understanding of time as a series of punctuated events in a linear trajectory that leads to environmental degradation. In conservation, this interpretation produces problematic political effects resulting in a specific approach that positions agriculture and nature on opposite sides. The article presents ethnographic materials that challenge this view and suggests a different approach, an ‘Anthropocene conservation', which looks at the sustainability of the future rather than defining an ecological baseline to restore.
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Avoiding a Post-truth World: Embracing Post-normal Conservation
David Christian Rose
October-December 2018, 16(4):518-524
In response to unexpected election results across the world, and a perceived increase of policy decisions that disregard scientific evidence, conservation scientists are reflecting on working in a ‘post-truth’ world. This phrase is useful in making scientists aware that policy-making is messy and multi-faceted, but it may be misused. By introducing three different scenarios of conservation decision-making, this perspective argues that a mythical era of ‘science or truth conservation’ has never existed. Since an ‘extended peer community’ of decision-makers (policy-makers, practitioners, stakeholders) are present in multi-layered governance structures, conservation has always been ‘post-normal’. To decrease the chances of ‘post-truth’ decision-making occurring, the perspective encourages scientists to think carefully about scientific workflows and science communication. Developing a conservation narrative which does not see values, beliefs, and interests, as key parts of modern functioning democracies risks upholding a perception of the disconnected ivory tower of science. Rather, co-productive relationships should be established with decision-makers, and we should harness the power of storytelling to engage people on a personal level. This perspective encourages scientists to take heed of research on stakeholder engagement and storytelling, and to embrace workflows suited to post-normal conservation, rather than trying to deny that a post-normal world exists.
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Can the Provision of Alternative Livelihoods Reduce the Impact of Wild Meat Hunting in West and Central Africa?
Sylvia Wicander, Lauren Coad
October-December 2018, 16(4):441-458
As threats to the world's ecosystems continue to escalate, the demand for evidence-based conservation approaches from conservation scientists, practitioners, policy-makers and donors is growing. Wild meat hunting represents one of the biggest threats to tropical forest ecosystems and various conservation strategies have been employed with the aim of reducing hunting impacts. Alternative livelihood projects have been implemented at the community level to reduce hunting through the provision of protein and income substitutes to wild meat. However, there is scant evidence of these projects' impact on hunting practices and wildlife populations. This study addresses this knowledge gap, focusing on alternative livelihood projects in West Africa and Central Africa. A comprehensive literature review and call for information identified 155 past and current projects, of which 19 were analysed in detail through key informant interviews. The study found that a range of different livelihood alternatives are being offered. Most projects are run by local and national non-governmental organisations, and project managers acknowledged the importance of involving communities in project decision-making; however, many projects are funded through small, short-term grants and struggle to meet their objectives with the available time, funding and capacity. Given these constraints, few projects monitor their outcomes and impacts. Projects also seldom implement conditionalities and sanctions, which may lead to the alternatives offered becoming additional rather than substitutional activities. Applying currently available best-practice guidelines for Integrated Conservation and Development Project design and implementation, including the use of simple monitoring methods for evaluating outcomes and impact, would greatly increase the chances of success for alternative livelihood projects, along with a restructuring of current funding models.
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Consuming the Tiger: Experiencing Neoliberal Nature
Sudha Vasan
October-December 2018, 16(4):481-492
This is an ethnographic account of urban middle class Indian tourists' experience of seeing the tiger in the national parks (NP) in India, based on participant observation in Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, and Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks in Madhya Pradesh, India. This experience of seeing the tiger emerges as a specific form of commodity located within the process of commodification pervasive under neoliberal capitalism, circulated and sustained through a range of media, attainable through competitive exchange of economic and social capital. While the experience is prefigured, standardised and fetishised, actual embodied experience of the tiger safari in NP adds form and content to this commodity. Specific practices including the economy of tiger sighting, forms of access to NP and safari regulations reinforce wildlife experience as a scarce market commodity. The tourist gaze, mediated through global and new social media and materialised through ubiquitous photography, make the tiger simultaneously wild and familiar, cosmopolitan and parochial, universal commodity sign and specifically unique. Material experience through which the tourist ‘consumes’ the tiger reinforces ideas of nature as enclosed, separated and rationed space accessible through the market to those with money to spend, and the tiger as accessible through social status and economic hierarchies. This research unravels a basic contradiction between a sustainable conservation ethic, and subjectivity created by this form of competitive consumption of commoditised nature.
  1,626 340 -
Indigenous Peoples' Concerns About Loss of Forest Knowledge: Implications for Forest Management
Savanna L Carson, Fabrice Kentatchime, Eric Djomo Nana, Kevin Y Njabo, Brian L Cole, Hilary A Godwin
October-December 2018, 16(4):431-440
Although indigenous populations' participatory rights are recognised as a worldwide priority in forest management, local practices vary in interpretation, scope, and efficacy. The next generation of sustainable forest policies will require a greater degree of self-determination from indigenous groups (i.e., the ability for use, ownership, management, and control of their traditional lands and resources). Our case study provides insights into how an indigenous population, the Baka in Cameroon, face barriers to participation in policy making, hindering recognition of rights to traditional forestland. The Baka interviewed herein expressed concern for how forest management impacts their livelihoods, threatens traditional ecological knowledge, and limits self-determination. Educational opportunities may provide co-benefits for indigenous stakeholders in forest management. To motivate indigenous inclusion specifically in forest management, we recommend educating forest managers in cultural competency and the importance of indigenous inclusion and knowledge. We recommend development of Baka educational programmes that are focused on promoting greater self-determination and enriching understanding of the forest management processes. These findings would help develop better relationships between indigenous peoples and forest management worldwide.
  1,641 318 -
Unpacking the Red List: Use (and Misuse?) of Expertise, Knowledge, and Power
Sabrina Tomasini
October-December 2018, 16(4):505-517
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is arguably the most widely recognised tool for assessing species' global conservation status. Given the potential social impact of Red Lists, this research aimed at understanding which kinds of data and expertise flow into the assessments, and what role they play in the process. Informed by theoretical approaches from political ecology and science and technology studies, two recently compiled Red Lists were examined as a case, directly interviewing and surveying the central actors of the Red List process, i.e. scientific experts. By adopting a broad definition of expertise, this study showed that a variety of local expertise (local resource users, resident professionals, and citizen scientists) contributes to Red List assessments, but in a less evident way, and always hierarchically following validation by scientific experts. Resident professionals provided crucial information on all aspects of the Red List; local resource users and citizen scientists played a minor role, except for information regarding plant use and species distribution, respectively. Interviews revealed existing hierarchies of knowledge, in which experts with natural science backgrounds decide over what counts as evidence and whose knowledge counts. Recommendations are made on how local expertise can meaningfully contribute to Red Lists.
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Green Grab by Bricolage – The Institutional Workings of Community Conservancies in Kenya
Brock Bersaglio, Frances Cleaver
October-December 2018, 16(4):467-480
Across Kenya's arid and semi-arid lands, vast rangelands are being transformed into community conservancies – common property arrangements managed for transhumance pastoralism and biodiversity conservation. The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) has spearheaded this transformation, promoting community conservancies as a model that conserves biodiversity while developing resilience, improving livelihoods, and promoting security among diverse pastoralist groups in Kenya. Building on recent critical engagement with the NRT model, this article reframes community conservancies as green grabs. In doing so, it makes two overarching contributions to wider debates. The first contribution complicates stereotypes about ‘grabbers’ and ‘grabbees’ and unsettles crude distinctions between political reactions to green grabs, social phenomena commonly portrayed as enacted from above and reacted to from below. Using the concept of bricolage, we show how actors at multiple scales with multiple identities participate – consciously and unconsciously – in reshaping institutional arrangements for managing communal lands and natural resources to align with conservation. The second contribution reveals how power works through emergent hybrid institutions, producing undesired and unintended outcomes. With this in mind, the article concludes that green grab by bricolage produces contradictory spaces animated by a seemingly adaptive, innovative, and progressive agenda, but constrained by historical patterns of access, accumulation, and domination.
  1,416 300 -
Community-based Conservation of Leatherback Turtles in Solomon Islands: Local Responses to Global Pressures
Nixon Jino, Hikuna Judge, Oke Revoh, Veira Pulekera, Alistair Grinham, Simon Albert, Hanz Jino
October-December 2018, 16(4):459-466
The population of Leatherback Sea Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) in the western Pacific has experienced dramatic declines over the past two decades. The full extent of these declines and the current status of the western Pacific sub-population remains unclear due to the remote nature of these nesting beaches. Zaira, on the southern coast of Vangunu Island in the Western Province of Solomon Islands is a previously undocumented nesting ground for Leatherback Sea Turtles. Whilst leatherbacks in this area have traditionally been harvested by the local communities, the Zaira community independently initiated a full closure over leatherbacks in 1999 as a response to reducing numbers. This study provides an overview of the scientific and traditional knowledge that the Zaira community has used to underpin their community-based management regime of Leatherback Sea Turtles. The community self-initiated the construction of a leatherback hatchery that was able to replicate the ideal nesting temperature for balanced sex ratios. Furthermore, the community developed a nest monitoring and satellite telemetry programme to provide a regional context to their conservation efforts. This community-led approach highlights the important role local communities can play in the conservation of this iconic species.
  1,392 219 -
Life in Oil: Cofán Survival in the Petroleum Fields of Amazonia
Vasundhara Jairath
October-December 2018, 16(4):527-528
  1,020 147 -
Fractivism: Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds
Amanda Poole
October-December 2018, 16(4):525-526
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