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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   Table of Contents - Current issue
January-March 2017
Volume 15 | Issue 1
Page Nos. 1-124

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The Sweet and the Bitter: Intertwined Positive and Negative Social Impacts of a Biodiversity Offset p. 1
Cécile Bidaud, Kate Schreckenberg, Manolotsoa Rabeharison, Patrick Ranjatson, James Gibbons, Julia P.G. Jones
Major developments, such as mines, will often have unavoidable environmental impacts. In such cases, investors, governments, or even a company's own standards increasingly require implementation of biodiversity offsets (investment in conservation with a measurable outcome) with the aim of achieving 'no net loss' or even a 'net gain' of biodiversity. Where conservation is achieved by changing the behaviour of people directly using natural resources, the offset might be expected to have social impacts but such impacts have received very little attention. Using the case study of Ambatovy, a major nickel mine in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar and a company at the vanguard of developing biodiversity offsets, we explore local perceptions of the magnitude and distribution of impacts of the biodiversity offset project on local wellbeing. We used both qualitative (key informant interviews and focus group discussions) and quantitative (household survey) methods. We found that the biodiversity offsets, which comprise both conservation restrictions and development activities, influenced wellbeing in a mixture of positive and negative ways. However, overall, respondents felt that they had suffered a net cost from the biodiversity offset. It is a matter of concern that benefits from development activities do not compensate for the costs of the conservation restrictions, that those who bear the costs are not the same people as those who benefit, and that there is a mismatch in timing between the immediate restrictions and the associated development activities which take some time to deliver benefits. These issues matter both from the perspective of environmental justice, and for the long-term sustainability of the biodiversity benefits the offset is supposed to deliver.
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Tibetan Buddhism, Wetland Transformation, and Environmentalism in Tibetan Pastoral Areas of Western China p. 14
Kabzung Gaerrang
Alpine wetlands occupy a considerable area of the Tibetan Plateau, a region that is characterised by diverse but fragile ecosystems, including alpine wetlands, which are reported to have shrunk by 29% over the last several decades. This article explores the contradictory practices of Tibetan pastoralists regarding these alpine wetlands and examines how Tibetan pastoralists conceptualise and understand wetlands as well as how state policies, market forces, and religious norms work together to produce Tibetan herders' practices vis-à -vis their livestock and the wetlands. The analysis will first challenge the common notion that Tibetan Buddhism plays a decisive and consistent role in conservation and environmental protection, an idea that has been proposed by academic scholars and promoted by many non-governmental organisation practitioners. As an alternative to the attempt to measure indigenous people and their culture against the criteria set out by western conservation, I argue through this case study that Tibetan pastoralists' relationship with wetlands informs their negotiation with competing forces including state policies, market logics, global environment movements, religious resurgence, and traditional nomadic practices.
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Poachers and Poverty: Assessing Objective and Subjective Measures of Poverty among Illegal Hunters Outside Ruaha National Park, Tanzania Highly accessed article p. 24
Eli J Knapp, Nathan Peace, Lauren Bechtel
Illegal hunters in Africa may be making rational decisions about the hunting activities they partake in. These decisions could be linked to their socioeconomic status and the livelihood opportunities available to them. In particular, poverty is widely considered the leading driver that causes a household's inhabitants to take up poaching in protected areas. Programs aiming to protect vulnerable wildlife populations by mitigating poaching have historically relied upon income-based poverty metrics in efforts to reduce regional poverty and incentivise local inhabitants to discontinue poaching activities. Because such data sets that deal with poachers directly are rare, assumptions about the role of poverty, and the extent of poverty, that drives poaching have been hard to test. This study uses a unique sample of 173 self-admitted poachers living in villages adjacent to Ruaha National Park in Tanzania to explore the influence of poverty on poaching. Results indicated high demographic and household economy heterogeneity among poaching households. Capability deprivation examined more subjective measures of poverty and revealed that poachers are strongly motivated by the need to improve their incomes, but are not necessarily the poorest of the poor.
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Privileging Consumptive Use: A Critique of Ideology, Power, and Discourse in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation p. 33
Andrea M Feldpausch-Parker, Israel D Parker, Elizabeth S Vidon
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAMWC) defines the unique style of conservation in the North American continent which is comprised of equal and ethical public access to natural resources that are ostensibly held in trust for them by the state. Since the NAMWC was first articulated as a concept, many wildlife specialists and curriculum developers in North America have adopted the seven tenets of the model as a representation of conservation history and an important component of future management strategies. In an ideological critique of the model, we argue that its narrow stakeholder focus and ideological representation limits both a broader spectrum of citizen involvement in wildlife management decisions and the future applicability of the model due to changing values toward nature. We draw on discourse and hegemony theory to critique written descriptions of the tenets from Geist et al. (2001) and other academic and popular literature addressing the model. We found that the NAMWC focuses its rhetoric on hunters and wildlife management practitioners, but excludes or marginalises non-consumptive users, policy-makers and other conservation practitioners. We argue for a broadening of the philosophical model to accommodate a variety of ideologies and diffuse powerful interests that have built up around the model.
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Spatio-temporal Visualisation and Data Exploration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge/Indigenous Knowledge p. 41
Kierin Mackenzie, Willington Siabato, Femke Reitsma, Christophe Claramunt
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) has been at the centre of mapping efforts for decades. Indigenous knowledge (IK) is a critical subset of TEK, and Indigenous peoples utilise a wide variety of techniques for keeping track of time. Although techniques for mapping and visualising the temporal aspects of TEK/IK have been utilised, the spatio-temporal dimensions of TEK are not well explored visually outside of seasonal data and narrative approaches. Existing spatio-temporal models can add new visualisation approaches for TEK but are limited by ontological constraints regarding time, particularly the poor support for multi-cyclical data and localised timing. For TEK to be well represented, flexible systems are needed for modelling and mapping time that correspond well with traditional conceptions of time and space being supported. These approaches can take cues from previous spatio-temporal visualisation work in the Geographic(al) Information System(s)/Science(s) GIS community, and from temporal depictions extant in existing cultural traditions.
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Attitudes Towards Forest Elephant Conservation Around a Protected Area in Northern Congo p. 59
Félicien Nsonsi, Jean-Claude Heymans, Jean Diamouangana, Thomas Breuer
An assessment of local attitudes towards conservation can guide wildlife managers in the effective application of measurements to improve these perceptions. Here we conducted a quantitative questionnaire survey around a protected area in northern Congo surveying 314 households living in four villages around the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. We investigated the impact of the benefits of a conservation project (led by an international non-governmental organisation), the experience with human-elephant conflict and the respondents' socio-economic profile on local people's attitudes towards forest elephant conservation. Using multivariate analysis, we found overall positive attitudes towards elephant conservation with more positive answers in the village where a conservation project is based. Furthermore, people employed in the conservation project stated more positive attitudes compared to logging company employees famers, natural resource users and people conducting other jobs. Experience of human elephant conflict negatively impacted people's perceptions. Socio-economic variables, such as ethnic group, education level or salary category had relatively little impact on people's responses. Qualitative statements largely supported the questionnaire results. We discuss our results in the light of the limits of attitude surveys and suggest further investigations to identify the activities needed to foster positive attitudes for elephant conservation in all villages around the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in partnership with the logging company.
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Economic Incentives, Perceptions and Compliance with Marine Turtle Egg Harvesting Regulation in Nicaragua p. 74
Róger Madrigal-Ballestero, Diana Jurado
La Flor Wildlife Refuge and nearby beaches on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua are important nesting sites for various species of endangered marine turtles. However, illegal harvesting of turtle eggs threatens the survival of marine turtles. In this study, we analysed the different motivations of local villagers for complying with a ban on harvesting marine turtle eggs in a context, in which government authorities do not have the means to fully enforce existing regulations. We also analysed the effectiveness and the participation of locals in an incipient performance-based nest conservation payment programme to protect turtle eggs. The analysis of survey-based data from 180 households living in Ostional, the largest village near La Flor Wildlife Refuge, indicates remarkable socio-economic differences between harvesters and non-harvesters. Our findings suggest that harvesters are associated mainly with a lack of income from other activities and the absence of productive assets, such as land for cattle and/or agriculture. In addition, the lack of legitimacy of prevailing institutions (i.e., actual regulations) also seems to perpetuate illegal harvesting. The performance-based payments programme is an effective option for protecting nests on isolated beaches, however, it is not clear if it changes harvesting behaviour overall. Normative motivations to protect the turtles are important determinants of participation in this programme, although the financial reward is also an important incentive, particularly since most participants who are egg harvesters depend on this activity as their main source of income.
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Collaborative Governance of Protected Areas: Success Factors and Prospects for Hin Nam No National Protected Area, Central Laos p. 87
Mirjam de Koning, Tin Nguyen, Michael Lockwood, Sinnasone Sengchanthavong, Souvanhpheng Phommasane
Collaborative governance of protected areas has emerged as a response to failures of, and ethical concerns about, centralised environmental governance. This paper assesses the governance of the Hin Nam No National Protected Area in central Laos to identify the conditions that support successful collaborative governance. Our analysis is based on the argument that collaborative governance is more likely to be successful under conditions that provide incentives for community engagement, formal mechanisms for power sharing, local ownership of resources, downward accountability, mechanisms for building trust, and an adaptive approach to performance assessment and improvement. We show that collaborative governance in Hin Nam No demonstrates the potential for a more decentralised and democratic system of governance based on customary rights, but requires ongoing political will to consolidate and sustain these arrangements. The findings of this study contribute to the growing literature on collaborative governance of protected areas in Asia and elsewhere.
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Beyond Contesting Limits: Land, Access, and Resistance at the Virunga National Park p. 100
Stephan Hochleithner
After almost two decades of violent conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – during which time the Virunga National Park was focused mainly on 'mere survival' – nature conservation practices in the Park began following strategies of re-enclosure in 2003. These practices are being contested by local population groups using a variety of different strategies. While local and trans-local elites employ more overt, explicit forms of (political) contestation, peasants resort to 'weapons of the weak', engaging in more covert, implicit forms of everyday resistance, whereby the customary mode of organising access to land works –among other functions– as a vehicle for resistance. This paper argues that this multi-dimensional resistance ties in with general conflict dynamics in eastern DRC, while at the same time reproducing them within the realm of nature conservation, tightly interwoven with global dynamics.
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Overfishing or Over Reacting? Management of Fisheries in the Pantanal Wetland, Brazil p. 111
Rafael Morais Chiaravalloti
Historically, small-scale inland fisheries have been overlooked. Management practices based on industrial fishing, rarely take into account vital factors such as complex socio-environmental relations. This paper aims to help address this gap, contributing to a better understanding of small-scale inland fisheries. It uses the Pantanal wetland of Brazil as a case study, in which policymakers established restrictive fishing rules based on claims that local overfishing had caused numbers of recreational fishing tourists to decline. Through multiple regressions, participatory observation and mapping, this paper deconstructs the environmental narrative and uncovers the area's complex traditional system of use. The case study, firstly illustrates the adverse consequences of misconceived top-down fishing management practices and, how such environmental narratives may be deconstructed. Then it presents important aspects of customary management in inland floodplains fisheries, including high levels of mobility within a common property regime and unexploitable reserves. It concludes by analysing recently proposed categories of property regimes, identifying fundamental elements that must be taken into account in designing appropriate management policies in inland floodplain fisheries.
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Book review p. 123
Douglas Sheil
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