Will Biodiversity Be Conserved in Locally-Managed Forests?
In recent years, agreements have been made in several international processes clearly implying that conservation initiatives must respect indigenous peoples’ rights. Well-known examples are the Durban Accord and Durban Action Plan (World Parks Congress 2003); the resolutions and recommendations of the World Conservation Congresses of the IUCN, and the Programme of Work on Protected Areas of the CBD and other CBD COP Decisions. This new attitude towards conservation is sometimes called the ‘new paradigm on conservation’.
The aim of the Whakatane Mechanism is to assess the situation in different protected areas around the world and, where people are negatively affected, to propose solutions and implement them. It also celebrates and supports successful partnerships between peoples and protected areas.
“Community-based natural resource management discourses produce images of cultures, communities; and resource management practices that are essentialized, timeless, and homogeneous? In their role as advocates of local resource management regimes, NGOs acting on behalf of local communities may, in part, be constituting the entities whose interests they claim to represent. To what extent might such instances of the “invention of community” have positive or problematic consequences? To what extent, and how, do these representations reflect local concerns, NGO preoccupations, or the interests of transnational conservation, human rights, and environmental donors? How have descriptions of local communities, culture, law, and environmental management been creatively shaped to fit larger institutional interests?”
2. What Is the Evidence for Biodiversity Gains from Local Management?
- Clear rules defining both rights and responsibilities must be in place. The reality that there will always be a divergence of views amongst different stakeholders must be recognised and addressed.
- Public goods values have to be identified and clarified. The broader environmental objectives for locally-managed areas must be made explicit and measures must be put in place to ensure that these values are maintained.
- A neutral forum for resolving conflicts and reconciling trade-offs between local and public benefits must be established. A process must be in place to enable advocates for local benefits to engage in dialogue with advocates for broader biodiversity and other environmental values.
- Effective compensation mechanisms must be in place to pay local people for the opportunity costs they incur when biodiversity measures conflict with the local use of forests.
- Contributions of locally-managed forests to broader landscape values must be made explicit. Landscape approaches provide a tool for optimising biodiversity benefits of locally-managed areas by understanding the role of these areas in the broader landscape. Locally-managed areas may act as buffers around protected areas or may provide corridors linking natural areas. Locally-managed areas may provide better biodiversity benefits if they are located adjacent to refuge areas [38,41].
- Assessment, monitoring, and adaptive management must be implemented. Local management must provide for assessment of biodiversity values and for monitoring and understanding changes in biodiversity. Measures must be in place to allow for management to be adapted to meet specific needs of biodiversity conservation.
- Legally-mandated institutions must be in place to oversee local management and to ensure that the public goods values of locally-managed forests are protected.
- Special attention must be given to the interests of people practicing traditional lifestyles and belief systems as their needs and potential will differ from those of people who are already part of the cash economy.
Conflicts of Interest
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