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What are the challenges of approaching conservation from a development lens? (5 answers)

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I recently attended a presentation on the impacts and lessons learned from the GCP. During the question and answer period an interesting question emerged frmo the audience around the issue of Conservation VS Development, especially in the context that the 6 implementing partners for GCP were large conservation NGOs. The point was made that development does not usually take into account the conservation angle and vice versa. USAID responded that they are trying to change this through the focus on a department devoted to biodiversity and conservation. What have others' experiences been in trying to implement conservation programs through a development framework?

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Apr 18, 2010
I agree that addressing both goals is often challenging but I think we are obligated to try, especially in biodiversity-rich landscapes where the majority of the population is poor and/or living in poverty. Whether we like it or not, biodiversity conservation is not the priority of most people in these contexts. Their priorities lie in improving their livelihoods and health as well as opportunities for their children via better education. The main challenge in my experience is generating tangible benefits from biodiversity conservation for the local communities living in these landscapes. More emphasis should probably be placed on small enterprise development based on natural resources. Strict, Protected Areas should only be part of the answer; they need to be accompanied by sustainable use zones that maintain the resource base while at the same time contributing to improving local livelihoods. Thankfully, many practitioners seem to have embraced the idea that biodiversity conservation can be achieved via a combination of protection and sustainable use.

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    Jan 12, 2010
    Im Tanzanian, working for the government as a wildlife officer. It has a very challenge to address both goals at a time. They are very linked linked goals atleast in developing countries where majority of people living next door to protected areas are entirely dependent on the nearby resources for their livelihoods, but most organizations fail to efficiently address both. Thinks are made more complex when all the revenue collected through tourism in these PAs is taken to the central government leaving these people with nothing but to absorb all the negative impacts of conservation (denied fertile lands for agriculture, crops being raided by wildanimals, people life underthreat from the wildanimals, livestocks being attacked almost everyday by the wild carnivores) is like, human wildlife conflicts every morning, the reported cases are keeping on increasing!. Would like to invite organizations who we can work together on this and try to develope a framework which will probably work well in the context of tanzania or East Africa at large and might be adapted to other parts of the world. petermkumbo@yahoo.com
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    Jan 13, 2010
    I've seen two major difficulties.

    The first is finding donors who are willing to support combined development/conservation programs. There are a lot of donors who fund projects under one area or the other and very few who explicitly support integrated projects. Convincing a development program to fund an environmental project, or vice versa, can be very challenging.

    The other challenge is coming up with results that directly link development aims with conservation outcomes. You can use narrative to explain the theory behind integrated projects - that with greater support for their needs (the development aims), the community will be more likely to act for conservation. But it is incredibly difficult to show, using quantitative data, how X dollars used to build a school has saved X number of individuals of any given species. You can link money spent to number of acres protected, but those acres won't necessarily guarantee the conservation of the target species.

    Personally, I think the first issue is the result of the second. Development donors would probably be more likely to fund integrated projects if it were easier to show a direct link between the two parts.

    Kelly Stoner
    Coordinator, Conservation Priorities & Outreach
    Conservation International
    kstoner@conservation.org
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    Jan 14, 2010
    i) In Africa we stand witness to the centralization of power, the marginalization of rural areas and traditional life, the plundering of wildlife and the environment, the failure of investment and industrialization, and the second European and ‘other nation’ neo-liberal invasion by donors, mercantile carpetbaggers and the Washington Consensus
    ii) Africa is awash with failed patrimonial nation states, its urban elite dependent on donor aid and the issue of concessions of plunder through land acquisitions for agri-business, mining and the service economy at the expense of the country’s natural resources, with the inevitable invasion and despoliation of the customary commons, custodian of indigenous African culture, religion and renewable natural resources
    iii) That the forgotten hinterland of the customary commons holds the key to Africa’s future, provided de-centralization and devolution is allowed to proceed as a bulwark against the continuing failure of over-centralized governments - abetted as they are by donor partners and natural resource plunderers - to bring about orderly governance and development, given the failure of Western-style conservation and development to provide socio-ecological sustainability
    iv) That what the customary commons requires is an institutional model whereby they may manage their land and the natural resources within a fully participatory democracy without threats to the land or their identity, but in partnership with Government and investors, and not as a secessionist movement seeking total autonomy.
    v) That the Landsafe model of self-reliance, whereby the customary community form statutory institutions to co-manage natural resources with Government and to vest customary land in Community Trusts that may then go into partnerships with investors, suggests a socio-ecological future where traditional culture and religion is preserved and livings standards are improved.
    vi) That this will then provide the necessary platform for appropriate investment in rural areas, investment which cannot alienate the land from customary control; and that Landsafe development will lead to the evolution of devolved systems of government within a unitary state that are culturally grounded and therefore able to be sustained over time.
    vii) And that Africa’s great blessing, its wildlife, forests, wetlands and wild places, may be preserved because they are owned by the people who live there.
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    Apr 18, 2010
    I agree that addressing both goals is often challenging but I think we are obligated to try, especially in biodiversity-rich landscapes where the majority of the population is poor and/or living in poverty. Whether we like it or not, biodiversity conservation is not the priority of most people in these contexts. Their priorities lie in improving their livelihoods and health as well as opportunities for their children via better education. The main challenge in my experience is generating tangible benefits from biodiversity conservation for the local communities living in these landscapes. More emphasis should probably be placed on small enterprise development based on natural resources. Strict, Protected Areas should only be part of the answer; they need to be accompanied by sustainable use zones that maintain the resource base while at the same time contributing to improving local livelihoods. Thankfully, many practitioners seem to have embraced the idea that biodiversity conservation can be achieved via a combination of protection and sustainable use.
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    Apr 21, 2011
    Hello - The FRAMEweb Team is following up on some of our discussions to find out if the information shared was useful. We're compiling some information about our work and the FRAMEweb site and would like to hear from you. Was this discussion useful? Did you learn anything knew? Did you find it helpful or informative? How did you apply the information you gathered from the discussions or tools and resources?Please let me know - you can either post here, or send me an email! - Carmen

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Date CreatedTuesday, January 12, 2010 2:24 PM
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