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People, protected areas and global change. Participatory conservation in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe

29 / 04 / 2009, Eldis Biodiversity

This book is a synthesis of papers on sustainable conservation in protected areas (PA). It presents a series of papers that provide comprehensive information on 13 PAs: 4 in Latin America, 5 in Africa, 3 in Asia and 1 in Switzerland. The authors note that participation in the protected areas under study was generally better in theory than in perceived practice. Some of the key points noted by the author include:

in Africa, economic costs and benefits are unequally distributed between the government and tourism on the one hand and local people on the other.
in Asia and Europe, research indicates that there is an improvement in forest conditions and perceptible growth in the wildlife population. There has also been an enhancement of the livelihoods of most of the local inhabitants and creation of a positive attitude towards conservation among most local people.
biodiversity conservation policies are intrinsically linked to ethnic issues in the Bolivian Amazon. The great social diversity that prevails in Bolivia is rooted in specific institutional pluralism according to categories, which makes implementation of participatory mechanisms difficult.

The authors note that the major challenge faced by PAs is to generate enough incentives and to deal with the fact that historical experience still undermines trust in the relationship between people and state PA management. The authors recommend that:

there is need for mutual development and the formation of trust between all actors, especially the government and the local level
adopt alternative conservation pathways with new participatory conservation approaches instead of the fortress approach currently implemented by Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania
acknowledgement of work done by local people as creators of biologically diverse habitats is required through by making payments
development of a common constitutional ground.

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