Special Issue "Inclusive Governance and Management of Protected and Conserved Areas"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainability, Biodiversity and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. J. Marc Foggin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA), University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada
Interests: sustainability; biodiversity; conservation; livelihoods; pastoralism, culture; governance; management; values; knowledge systems
Dr. Sarah J. Halvorson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA
Interests: water resource geography; hazards and disasters; mountain geography; gender and environment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Biodiversity is under unprecedented pressure from human activities around the globe, yet much of the international development community continues with business as usual, following extractive models of development largely discredited due to failures to internalize nature’s values together with unfair distribution of benefits. In response to these pressures on nature, a common model of conservation emerged as protected areas such as national parks; and this model has been widely exported around the world. Most attention, however, has been on the design and management of protected areas (i.e., ‘what should be done’) rather than on the equally important (if not more so) matter of their governance (i.e., ‘who decides’ what to do).

Much of the Earth’s land area, though, has already been conserved apart from this relatively recent model of ‘fortress conservation’. Over a quarter of the global terrestrial area is (or until recently has been) managed successfully by local or indigenous peoples and local communities, overlapping with around 40% of terrestrial the world’s protected areas and large ecologically intact landscapes, yet such approaches are at risk of being replaced by other detrimental activities if local and indigenous ways are not duly recognized for their contributions to conservation as well as to human wellbeing.

Therefore, strengthening the actors and all key elements of the social–ecological systems that lead to de facto conservation as well as improving the effectiveness of formal designated protected areas are both of paramount importance. Having ‘the right people at the table’ and recognizing important issues of governance are amongst the most critical factors that help lead to long-term sustainability. Additionally, the fundamental values and beliefs of diverse actors lead to choices and actions, thus contributing to development and wellbeing as well as sense of identity and hope for the future.

In this Special Issue of the journal Sustainability, we seek to bring together a wide range of studies that recognize and reflect on the multiplicity of perspectives and diversity of values that are held by different stakeholders and rights holders in context of the world’s protected and conserved areas. How inclusive and collaborative approaches and cultural perspectives may influence, constrain, or encourage and enable conservation and sustainability is the core focus of this Special Issue. Studies may examine individual sites, or networks of spaces and places. Ideally, contributors will reflect not just on insular questions at single localities, but on the wider range and oft diverse/complex suite of actors, values, perspectives, and approaches present in the focal areas of their studies—thus being more representative of the scenarios faced in real life by every person, agency, or community, and from which lessons and recommendations may be drawn to achieve sustainability.

We particularly welcome contributions situated at the interface of protected and conserved areas, on one hand, and the mainstreaming of biodiversity and conservation throughout society and across sectors, on the other hand. Negotiating across these realms requires an open mind, as both values held by different stakeholders and more tangible aspects of ecosystem dynamics should be made explicit in order to better understand the dynamic processes at play in relation to sustainability.

This collection of articles will also contribute to an identification and better understanding of ‘best practices’ that are relevant for IUCN’s Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas. For this purpose, we encourage contributions from equitably governed and managed protected and conserved areas around the world, with Sustainability being understood and considered from multiple overlapping and reinforcing social, economic, ecological, cultural, and spiritual perspectives. Furthermore, we hope that this collection may increase awareness and strengthen understanding of rights-based perspectives, particularly in light of a growing recognition of people’s legitimate right not only to water, food, health, education, shelter, etc., but also to biodiversity as the foundation for their livelihoods and ultimately culture.

Dr. J. Marc Foggin
Dr. Sarah J. Halvorson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable development
  • social-ecological systems
  • protected and conserved areas
  • livelihoods
  • inclusivity
  • multi-stakeholder governance
  • collaborative approaches
  • policy & decision-making
  • transdisciplinary research
  • case studies

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Inclusive Governance and Biodiversity Conservation: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3847; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073847 - 31 Mar 2021
Viewed by 659
Abstract
We examine the conservation effects attributable to changes in the size of community-governed protected areas (PAs) by adopting a generalized difference-in-difference (DID) design with a two-way fixed effect regression model and synthetic control methods. Panel data from the extraordinary datasets of the World [...] Read more.
We examine the conservation effects attributable to changes in the size of community-governed protected areas (PAs) by adopting a generalized difference-in-difference (DID) design with a two-way fixed effect regression model and synthetic control methods. Panel data from the extraordinary datasets of the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPAs) and the Red List of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are used for 32 Sub-Saharan African countries in this study. Our generalized DID estimates show that countries with community-governed PAs have reduced the IUCN Red List threat level by 17% for mammals. We also find stronger evidence of the effect of community-governed PAs on the IUCN threat level using synthetic control method that allows us to match the “intervention countries” with those countries that exhibit similar pre-intervention threat level. Our results are robust on alternate specifications in which we exploit variations in the cumulative size of the designated PAs differentiated by the IUCN governance types. We also compare the effect of strictly state-governed PAs with community-governed PAs. Our findings provide evidence in support of recent qualitative studies that find positive responses of community participation towards common goods that carry potential economic incentives. This paper contributes to the idea that inclusive environmental policies and legislations yield environmental gains not at the cost of social exclusion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Inclusive Governance and Management of Protected and Conserved Areas)
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Article
Perceptions of, and Motivations for, Land Trust Conservation in Northern Michigan: An Analysis of Key Informant Interviews
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1609; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041609 - 03 Feb 2021
Viewed by 479
Abstract
Land trusts are common and expanding mechanisms for conservation, although their impacts have been little-studied. The objective of this paper is to understand the perceptions and motivations of stakeholders of small-scale land trust conservation. We used 33 key informant interviews to learn the [...] Read more.
Land trusts are common and expanding mechanisms for conservation, although their impacts have been little-studied. The objective of this paper is to understand the perceptions and motivations of stakeholders of small-scale land trust conservation. We used 33 key informant interviews to learn the motivations and opinions of stakeholders regarding the Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC) of northern Michigan, USA. The interviews were coded for relevant themes and interpreted alongside a literature review. The highest reported motivation for stakeholder involvement with LTC was the protection of nature and scenic beauty. Economic and social factors were also considered motivators; however, were not the key facilitators for conservation action for LTC stakeholders. Interviews emphasized that relationship and partnership formations are critical for facilitating successful land conservation. We conclude that land trust organizations can captivate the long-term support and participation of stakeholders through the consideration of local dynamics and building upon existing community relationships. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Inclusive Governance and Management of Protected and Conserved Areas)
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Article
Regulatory Compliance of Community-Based Conservation Organizations: Empirical Evidence from Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9420; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229420 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 487
Abstract
Community-based conservation in the developing world generally puts more emphasis on voluntary commitments and compliance rather than enforcement of formal laws and regulations for the governance of protected areas. However, as with other forms of organizational management, once institutions are established, they are [...] Read more.
Community-based conservation in the developing world generally puts more emphasis on voluntary commitments and compliance rather than enforcement of formal laws and regulations for the governance of protected areas. However, as with other forms of organizational management, once institutions are established, they are required to comply with all relevant, legally binding regulations. Furthermore, it is broadly assumed that compliance with established regulations is critical for good governance. In this paper, we review these matters through an empirical study of Conservation Area Management Committees’ degree of compliance with regulations under Nepalese law, within the Annapurna Conservation Area—one of the best-known community-based protected areas worldwide—based on quantitative content analysis of the committees’ meeting minutes from 2008 to 2012. According to the established rules, two to four women and one to five minorities serve as committee members in each instance. On average, fewer members than expected attended meetings, and the number of decisions made per meeting showed a curvilinear relationship with the number of members present as well as their demographic diversity. Of the 13 committees selected for study, only two met the legal mandate of holding six regular meetings annually within two-month intervals. In all the other cases, non-compliance was noted for one to all five years of the committees’ terms. In general, compliance declined over the five-year terms, and some committees were significantly less-compliant than others. Although enforceable decisions were made within both compliant and non-compliant committees, several problems of non-compliance were identified that may affect conservation outcomes. We suggest several possible reasons for non-compliance and argue that these may be symptoms of institutional weaknesses. Organizations that fail to meet their commitments risk liability and may also lose the formal legal authority to govern. Regular monitoring is recommended to address compliance issues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Inclusive Governance and Management of Protected and Conserved Areas)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Planned papers:

1. Title: Co-management Practices in Selected Coastal Forest Zones of Bangladesh: A Focus on Sustainability

Authors: Niaz Ahmed Khan, Junaid Kabir Choudhury; A. Z. M. Manzoor Rashid and Raquibul Amin

Abstract: The recent years have seen something of an upsurge in the interest in the concept and application of ‘co-management’  or ‘collaborative management’ in the governance of natural resources (NR) – covering both the forests and wetlands sectors - in Bangladesh. Notwithstanding the popularity of Co-management as a major NR governance regime, the overall approach to implementation has been overtly technical in nature; the concept remained bedeviled with ambiguity and ramifications; and there has been very limited attention on the sustainability dynamics.  Ensuring sustainability, while addressing the hopes, aspirations and livelihood of the resource dependent local communities, remains a daunting challenge.

In the above backdrop, this article aims to (i) explore aspects of the policy and practice of co-management by drawing on selected cases in different coastal forest zones of Bangladesh; and (ii) identify the major challenges and issues concerning the sustainability of the co-management initiatives. In view of limited research on the subject, this study is expected to generate lessons that may be of relevance and use to both policy making and practicing quarters. A qualitative research approach was adopted; the principal empirical data collection methods included key informant interviews, stakeholder consultation in the form of focus group discussion, documentary research, and uncontrolled personal observation. The cases were purposely selected based on the following rationale and considerations: diversity of the actors and protagonists (included government agencies, non-government organizations, and local government institutions); different geographic locations; discussion with and suggestions by stakeholders during the initial round of consultation; and opportunity to observe community and sustainability dynamics.
 
After a brief recapitulation of the concept and associated connotations of ‘co-management’, the second section probes into the historical trends in the evolution of co-management practices particularly in the forest protected areas of Bangladesh. The discussion then focuses on the dominant models of co-management with examples of selected co-management practices from different parts of the country. Based on these case studies and associated empirical observation, the last section raises some lessons, issues, and challenges especially relating to sustainability. The issues include: the need for better understanding and sorting out the tenurial complications regarding both land and institutions used in co-management; unequal awareness of the concept and varying level of engagement/participation  of community co-management organizations; politics and politicization of co-management institutions; accountability of the co-management institutions; ‘revenue’ versus ‘conservation’ priorities at the community level; the community ‘ownership’ issues; and the  role of ‘external’ support and facilitation.
 
Co-management as a concept and practice – albeit a relatively recent development – seems to be taking roots rapidly, and manifests the signs of gradual consolidation in this country. There has been considerable progress especially in terms of the required policy and legislative reforms, community level institution building, and a degree of change in the mindset of the relevant government agencies to accommodate and nurture co-management.  There is, however, hardly any room for complacence; indeed the road ahead is long and a difficult one. Sustaining and further consolidating the achievements made so far still pose a formidable challenge that can only be tackled by acting together with the local community. 

2. Title: How a fortress approach to conservation contributes to the loss of agricultural biodiversity: The case of the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and the camel in Rajasthan (India)

Authors:  Ilse Köhler-Rollefson and Hanwant Singh Rathore

Abstract: The Indian forest management system introduced during colonial times has led to the progressive loss of the grazing rights of the country’s pastoralists, culminating in the abolishment of grazing fees and replacement with grazing fines in 2004. This scenario has had a negative knock-on effects on the conservation of many of the livestock breeds that pastoralists have developed in adaptation to local environments and that are the basis of the country’s food security. This paper illustrates the dilemma with the example of the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan which represents the traditional monsoon grazing area for local camel, sheep and goat pastoralists. Raika herders have engaged in a long-standing but losing legal battle with the state for their continued seasonal access to this area. This situation contributes to the rapid decline of the camel which is an iconic part of Rajasthan’s identity, a major attraction for tourists and was declared state animal in 2014. The aims of the forest department to conserve wild animals and those of pastoralists and camel conservationists could easily be integrated but deeply engrained concepts about nature being separate from (agri-)culture, as well as unequal power structures stand in the way.

3. Title: Developing Co-management for Conservation and Local Development in China’s National Parks: Findings from Focus Groups in the Sanjiangyuan Region

Authors: Ting Ma, Brent Swallow, J. Marc Foggin, Weiguo Sang

Abstract: Environmental protection in China has progressed significantly in the past decades, including introduction of more collaborative approaches in the management of protected areas and the establishment of a new national park system. Many milestones have been achieved. While such developments are driven largely by national and global goals, the people who are most affected are those who reside in the protected landscapes. A range of strategies have been proposed and tried in relation to local development, with many important lessons learned, yet little has been heard to date directly from the community stakeholders themselves. In this study we report on feedback and recommendations received from focus groups in vicinity of China’s first national park, Sanjiangyuan, regarding lived experiences of “community co-management” by Tibetan herders and local officials. Overall, the most recent National Park model is deemed successful, albeit with some notable perceived limitations – including recommendations for more balanced compensation opportunities including communities living outside but in close proximity to the park, easing restrictions on ecotourism, providing public services for communities in the park (especially waste management and health care) and establishing a more effective compensation or insurance system to offset the increasing economic losses incurred due to wildlife damage.

4. Title: Thinking Like A Mountain: Exploring the Potential of Relational Approaches for Transformative Nature Conservation – comprehensive, interconnected, durable

Authors: Marc Foggin, Daniele Brombal, Ali Razmkhah

Abstract: This paper contributes to ongoing debates about the necessity and essence of transformative nature conservation solutions. Based on a review of current mainstream paradigms of nature conservation, we identify several areas for improvement centered on regenerative solutions. In this, we move beyond conventional environmental protection and biophysical restoration, focusing instead on critical multidimensional relationships between people and the rest of nature and the co-creative processes innate in a thriving world. Recognizing, rebuilding and reestablishing forgotten, ignored, or disrupted relationships are posited as three fundamental processes needed to re-connect ecological health and human wellbeing. We focus in particular on the potential of people’s worldviews and values to inform morality (guiding principles about right and wrong) and ethics (rules defining acceptable behavior), which alone can nurture the changes needed for transformative conservation, that is, biodiversity conservation achieved through equitable and just transformations. In this paradigm, it is not technical but rather societal and personal transformations that underpin and enable just and lasting solutions for people and nature. In this paper, we systematize the potential of regenerative conservation solutions against a backdrop of relational approaches in sustainability sciences. By so doing, we contribute to current endeavors of the conservation community for more inclusive and just forms of biodiversity conservation, expanding beyond protected areas and economic valuations of nature to include models of resource governance and management that are premised instead on relationally-oriented worldviews and value systems.

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