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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 147-183

People, Parks and Poverty: Political Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation


1 Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EN, United Kingdom
2 UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 217 Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DL, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
William M Adams
Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EN
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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Action to conserve biodiversity, particularly through the creation of protected areas (PAs), is inherently political. Political ecology is a field of study that embraces the interactions between the way nature is understood and the politics and impacts of environmental action. This paper explores the political ecology of conservation, particularly the establishment of PAs. It dis­cusses the implications of the idea of pristine nature, the social impacts of and the politics of PA establishment and the way the benefits and costs of PAs are allocated. It considers three key political issues in contemporary international conservation policy: the rights of indigenous people, the relationship between biodiversity conservation and the reduction of poverty, and the arguments of those advocating a return to conventional PAs that exclude people.


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