Panel 11: The New Ecologies of Conservation: A Comparative Account of the Social-Ecological Dynamics of Community Based Conservation in the Global South

Panel Time: 
Friday, June 9, 2017 - 10:30 to 13:00


Michael Bollig, GSSC


Community-based conservation (CBNRM) has been a major move to redirect critical social-ecological relations in much of the Global South. CBNRM was developed as a travelling model of sustainable environmental management in the late 1980s ensuring environmental protection as well as participatory co-management and rural economic development. The approach had three axiomatic epistemic pillars: the valorization and commoditization of resources leads to an increase of rural incomes and poverty alleviation, participatory co-management fosters the responsibility and sense of ownership in local communities and at the same time ensures the accountability of governmental institutions, a clear definition of resource users and resources to be protected will lead to a functioning commons’ management and to investments into long term sustainability of land use. CBNRM Programs were set up in Eastern and Southern Africa, in India, in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and also in Brazil and Peru. After two decades of CBNRM it is time of taking stock. Much of the social science analysis has condemned CBNRM for failing to eradicate or at least diminish poverty. Also the lack of true participation and the lack of meaningful and profitable engagement in natural resource management have been bemoaned. Conservationists have claimed that environmental protection has suffered and many have argued (again) for more restrictive measures. These somewhat sweeping statements, however, have glanced over the fact that social-ecological relations did change - perhaps not always in the direction wanted and often in unpredictable ways: e.g. in southern Africa game has increased in many CBNRM regions, traditional leadership and polities have been reified and markets for natural commodities have emerged (trophy hunting, the sale of Commiphora resins to international perfume industry).

This panel presents in-depth studies on social-ecological change in different regions of the Global South. Contributions endeavour to present comparable data on the social, political and ecological dynamics connected to CBNRM measures. The contributions will also endeavor to show how the local social-ecological dynamics are embedded in larger circuits of capitalist markets and global environmental governance.


Nikolaus Schareika (University of Göttingen)