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People, protected areas and global change: participatory conservation in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe

11 / 07 / 2008, Eldis Biodiversity

This document compares findings from in-depth research on protected area (PA) management in Latin America Africa, Asia and Europe. It describes how PAs have been managed over the last 50-100 years and considers the ecological, social and economic benefits brought by enhanced participation. The case studies presented in the book are fromBolivia, Argentina, Peru, Tanzania, Madagascar, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Indonesia, Nepal, and Vietnam. These individual studies look at the problems people face and at environmental issues from a variety of angles, including governance and institutions, different actors’ interests and strategies, livelihoods and natural resources, and economic and political contexts. The authors highlight lessons learnt, best practices, and potentials for mitigation of negative impacts with respect to conservation of landscapes and biodiversity. It is argued that relations between PAs and local people are difficult because perspecitves on nature, natural resources and conservation are closely interlinked with restrictions and competition in land and resource use, as well as other rights. The case studies highlight that the understanding of participation also varies greatly in all cases, as does the role of development.The basic lessons learnt from the literature and case studies are summarised as follows:

although most of the PAs studied are participatory in their formal structure, this does not translate into economic benefits for local people
power issues and issues of ideology are used strategically by all actors in order to structure governance and the underlying institutions for their own gain
for local actors political gains may be an incentive to strategically subscribe to conservation goals, especially if they have ownership of the decision-making process

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