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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   2019| January-March  | Volume 17 | Issue 1  
    Online since January 7, 2019

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Conservation Conjunctures: Contestation and Situated Consent in Peru's Huascarán National Park
Mattias Borg Rasmussen, Adam French, Susan Conlon
January-March 2019, 17(1):1-14
When the Huascarán National Park in the Peruvian highlands was established in 1975, consultation with the local comundidades campesinas (peasant communities) was limited. While no consent was sought or given, prior to park establishment, post-facto attempts to include the surrounding communities in the conservation efforts have produced diverse responses from the local population. This paper reviews the history of this process by discussing three distinct cases in which the Huascarán National Park has devised strategies for negotiating the legitimacy of its control over park resources with neighbouring comunidades campesinas. In examining these park-community dynamics from the standpoint of control over the aesthetic and productive values of natural resources and territory, the article explores the emergence of authority and the exercise of power in conservation. We argue that within the Huascarán National Park, different modalities of governance exist partially and simultaneously, and that conservation conjunctures are historically conditioned sedimentations that continuously shape the park-people relationship. This leads the park to appear as both a paper park and fortress-style conservation entity in different sites and moments. The paper highlights the problem of creating consent post facto in defining the use of landscapes, thereby underscoring the importance of a grounded and historically specific analysis of attempts to create social inclusion in processes framed as development.
  1,782 582 -
Laws, Parks, Reserves, and Local Peoples: A Brief Historical Analysis of Conservation Legislation in Mozambique
Anselmo Matusse
January-March 2019, 17(1):15-25
This article uses a short historical study of Mozambican conservation legislation to show how local knowledges have been systematically disenfranchised from legislation since colonial period through a discourse analysis of conservation legal documents including constitutions. This study shows that the country has favoured modernity as a framework to deal with nature conservation which clashed in complex ways with local modes of living. Hence the article uses James Scott's concept of 'high-modern ideology' to trace continuities and changes in local knowledges and people marginalisation because of conservation legislation since the colonial period to the present. The article shows that, more market-based approaches to nature conservation are currently being promoted by the state and international donors and organisations; this in turn could lead to local communities treating nature as a commodity.
  1,912 446 -
Understanding Cosmopolitan Communities in Protected Areas: A Case Study from the Colombian Amazon
Hannah Elizabeth Parathian
January-March 2019, 17(1):26-37
It is now widely accepted that research about people and their interactions with wildlife provides unique and significant contributions that enhance our understanding of interspecies relationships in tropical forests. Studying human-nonhuman relationships involves not only the gaining of in-depth knowledge about local beliefs, values, and practices, but also the examination of the cosmopolitan identities of individuals as well as the impact of social and cultural processes of globalisation. Hence, it is imperative to explore the complexity of local communities living in protected areas. In this study, I consider the impact of community-based conservation (CBC) within Amazonianist societies and discuss how Western human-centred ideals of conservation can be made complementary to existing indigenous belief systems, sometimes resulting in unique and insightful outcomes. I present a case study showing how two Tikuna communities in the Colombian Amazon adopt transcultural beliefs and display innovation and resilience in the face of environmental and cultural change, and how these processes generate attitudes towards conservation initiatives and influence local livelihoods that are transformed by conservation efforts. I suggest that acknowledging indigenous populations as changing groups with dynamic, practical understandings of humans and nonhumans is a vital step towards identifying solutions to socioecological problems, where the needs of people and wildlife are met simultaneously.
  1,624 413 -
Evaluating a Union between Health Care and Conservation: a Mobile Clinic Improves Park-People Relations, Yet Poaching Increases
Dorothy Kirumira, Deborah Baranga, Joel Hartter, Kim Valenta, Charles Tumwesigye, Wilson Kagoro, Colin A Chapman
January-March 2019, 17(1):51-62
It is widely viewed that by providing employment or services to neighbouring communities, a protected area may increase positive attitudes towards conservation and discourage encroachment, but this is rarely tested. Our research examines this view by evaluating local attitudes towards the park and incidence of encroachment before and after the implementation of a novel conservation strategy – a mobile health clinic - in the predominantly agricultural communities bordering Kibale National Park, Uganda. The implementation of the mobile clinic programme coincided with a more positive attitude towards the park and a decrease in the number of people who 'disliked' the park. Despite this, the incidence of encroachment increased. There are a number of possible explanations for this contradiction, including respondents giving answers they believe will maintain the service they appreciate, and that while the local community may appreciate the mobile clinic, this appreciation is not sufficient to make people alter their behaviour because of tradition or need (e.g., the need among the very poor to feed their family or send a child to school is very high). Overall, people typically expressed that they did not have a problem with living adjacent to the park, except for the harm done by crop-raiding animals. However, local people expressed the view that they receive few benefits from the park – a perception that might be improved with more extensive use of the mobile clinic.
  832 139 -
Learning From 'Actually Existing' REDD+: A Synthesis of Ethnographic Findings
Sarah Milne, Sango Mahanty, Phuc To, Wolfram Dressler, Peter Kanowski, Maylee Thavat
January-March 2019, 17(1):84-95
The 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate reinforces actions to conserve and enhance forests as carbon reservoirs. A decade after sub-national demonstration projects to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) commenced, we examine why many REDD+ schemes appear to have fuelled social conflict while having limited success in addressing the drivers of forest loss and degradation. Our analysis is two-tiered: first we synthesise findings from a set of ethnographic case studies of REDD+ in Mainland Southeast Asia, conducted by the authors; second, we explore whether the insights from our regional synthesis apply globally, through a comparative review of published qualitative research on REDD+ field experiences. Our results reveal three major implementation dynamics that can undermine REDD+ in practice, which we conceptualise from science and technology studies and critical political ecology as follows: 1) problems with the enrolment of governments, civil society, and local forest users in REDD+ governance; 2) the prevalence of overly simplified codification systems for REDD+ implementation that mismatch targeted societies and landscapes; and 3) the consequent dissonance between REDD+ objectives and outcomes. Together, these problematic dynamics reveal how and why REDD+ so often misses its targets of reducing deforestation and delivering community benefits. In effect, it appears that REDD+ in the course of implementation maps onto local power structures and political economies, rendering it blunt as tool for change. The potential of REDD+ as a 'solution' in the global climate regime must therefore be scrutinized, along with other similar mechanisms espoused by the green economy.
  758 200 -
Another Turn of the Screw on the Environmental Opinions: Utilising Surveys and Social Discourses to Investigate the Social Perception of Environmental Issues
Marina i Mora Requena, Guillermo Rodríguez Moreno
January-March 2019, 17(1):38-50
In this paper, we explore the nature of the contradictions between capitalism and the environment as they emerge under new conditions of stress and austerity in Spanish contexts. These contradictions show how shallow the roots of urban post-materialism can be. They also show that post-materialism, which is embedded in the different habitus that can characterise rural lifestyles can have a stronger base. Ironically, however, it is precisely these lifestyles which are being threatened by top-down nature conservation practices being pursued in the Spanish State. We analyse the results of several surveys centred on environmental issues and compare the results with social discourses that arise from a specific study carried out in protected areas located in the Spanish State. In the introduction, the researchers present theoretical arguments that have played a fundamental role in shaping the social opinions on the topic of the environmentalism. In the first part, we explore the opinions revolving around environmental concern. In the second part, we focus on practices and social profiles that reflect environmentally sustainable behaviours. In the third part, we concentrate on our qualitative study and evaluate a paradoxical situation with respect to conservation. In protected areas, top-down conservation is imposed; however, many of these areas are also located in rural populations where a type of environmental conservation related to their way of life and everyday practices is part of their traditional knowledge.
  679 156 -
Towards a More Natural Governance of Earth's Biodiversity and Resources
DW Macdonald, D D. P. Johnson, H Whitehouse
January-March 2019, 17(1):108-113
Humans, like other animals, have aptitudes and limitations shaped by natural selection; knowledge of these—along with that of how mammals, including people, form societies and cooperate—can be fruitfully applied to the challenge of biodiversity conservation. Here, we outline the natural principles that might help conservationists (and indeed any other group concerned with political problems) get the best outcomes by aligning efforts with the grain of nature, rather than against it; we call this approach 'Natural Governance'. We illustrate the value of this perspective with reference to two aspects of conservation strategy—rethinking the spatial scales at which it is effective to plan conservation and energising human society to care enough to enable it. A Natural Governance approach stands on three critical pillars: (1) ecology (the dynamic balance between organisms and their environment), (2) cooperation (adaptations to act collectively even where this incurs short-term costs to self-interest), and (3) cultural systems (how these adaptations are manifested and vary across societies). It is commonly assumed that human society stems purely from political or socially-constructed influences. The biological perspective does not say that these influences are unimportant, but it reveals viewing humanity out of the evolutionary context to be a cripplingly narrow picture.
  706 128 -
Promoting Social Accountability for Equitable Fisheries Within Beach Management Units in Lake Victoria (Kenya)
Christine Adhiambo Etiegni, Michelle Kooy, Kenneth Irvine
January-March 2019, 17(1):63-72
The decentralisation of resource management through co-management assumes that the devolution of power benefits resource users. This assumption is often premised on the democratic election of leaders within resource user organisations. In this article, we investigate the validity of co-management assumptions about who benefits from a devolution of decision-making power through a case study analysis of political equity in fisherfolk organisations of Beach Management Units (BMUs) in Lake Victoria (Kenya). From the analysis of the distribution of political power, we identify how, where, and for whom greater accountability can work to address the current political inertia of fisherfolk, who form a majority of the BMU membership. We also identify the relationships between the empowerment of fisherfolk, the accountability of the BMU leaders, and the distribution of political power determining decision making in co-management. We conclude with identifying how other mechanisms of social accountability beyond elections can improve accountability of elected leaders of resource users for improved co-management outcomes.
  699 95 -
Recentralising Political Power Through Decentralised Environmental Governance: A Case from Mexico's Early REDD+ Program
Beth A Bee
January-March 2019, 17(1):96-107
The decentralisation of environmental governance is often associated with the interests of political parties and the fight for political power. In Mexico, constitutional reforms sought to provide more autonomy to local municipal governments, but until now, have had paradoxical effects. Now, in the face of international commitments like REDD+, Mexico is promoting the formation of decentralised parastatal organisations called Inter-municipal Juntas, to oversee broadly-defined environmental conservation activities at the local scale. Although the Juntas are proposed to be a model of decentralised environmental governance, this article draws upon a case study of one such Junta in the state of Jalisco to demonstrate that in reality, they merely serve to re-centralise political power at the local scale. Utilising the literature on decentralised environmental governance as well as the literature on democracy, decentralisation, and state power in Mexico, this article illustrates how the economic and political marginalisation of the municipalities in the region combined with the power of the political parties, particularly the PRI, undermine the process of decentralisation, and consequently the democratisation of environmental governance in Mexico. Such deficiencies have implications not only for environmental governance in Mexico but also for the broader process of democracy in Mexico.
  675 115 -
State Conservation Efforts of Seasonal Wetlands along the Mississippi River
Nicholas Guehlstorf, Adriana Martinez
January-March 2019, 17(1):73-83
Since a 2001 US Supreme Court decision that permanently altered the federal protection of non-navigable waters, scientists and policy-makers have struggled to determine whether state agencies are conserving wetlands and which wetlands no longer receive protection. Subsequent court cases have also made protection of non-navigable waters difficult as the regulatory definition of “navigable waters” continues to change. This study compares regulations and the administrative actions of ten states along the Mississippi River corridor to protect and conserve isolated wetlands. It uses GIS methodology to determine differences in wetland area change for a twenty-year period, and compares past and recent wetland destruction and wetland buffer zone loss using nationally established Land Use/Land Cover (LULC) categories. The results show that conservation of the wetlands and buffer zones have only been successful in places where agricultural area or urban sprawl did not statistically increase. The findings indicate that some biological functions and ecological values of federal wetlands have been conserved by a few state agencies and local governments that have clarified the regulations about small, ephemeral, and seasonal wetlands. The study highlights the need for trustworthy data for sensitive or at risk wetlands so that conservation stakeholders have robust evidence for developing appropriate mitigation policies and implementation strategies.
  639 96 -
Green Wars: Colonization and Conservation in the Maya Forest
Anja Nygren
January-March 2019, 17(1):120-121
  546 122 -
Organic Sovereignties: Struggles over Farming in an Age of Free Trade
Nicholas Babin
January-March 2019, 17(1):114-115
  544 78 -
The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life
Frank de Vocht
January-March 2019, 17(1):118-119
  518 71 -
Pushing our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2
Krishna AchutaRao
January-March 2019, 17(1):116-117
  457 71 -