Forum > community reserves > Community reserves across the world

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 13, 2006


"Across the world, a new paradigm of conservation is spreading, one in which responsibility for wildlife protection and benefits of forests are shared with communities. Two trends have emerged collaborative managed protected areas (CMPAs), in which governments and communities jointly manage conservation, and community conserved areas (CCAs), in which the predominant role is that of local people.

In South America, over a fifth of the Amazon forests are now under indigenous protected areas, while in Canada, such areas cover seven million hectares. In Australia, huge territories have been given back to aboriginal peoples, and many of these are now managed for conservation. In South Africa, portions of world-famous areas such as Kruger National Park have been handed back to communities from whom lands had once been snatched away by the apartheid government, but a negotiated deal keeps the area under conservation land use. Across many European countries, complex arrangements between governments, local councils, and other local bodies are managing hundreds of protected landscapes. In Zimbabwe and Namibia, community-managed conservancies protect the continent's biggest fauna, with ecotourism benefits going to local people.

In Nepal, one of the subcontinent's biggest protected areas, Annapurna, became a CMPA when its management was entrusted to a NGO and local communities in the 1990s. Over its 7,000-plus sq km, wildlife populations have increased as have livelihood and revenue benefits to local people living inside the area.

Not all initiatives towards participatory conser-vation are successful. However, many government-managed protected areas too are prone to failures see what happened in the infamous Sariska Tiger Reserve. If one looks at the enormous social costs of the conventional model of conservation, including the displacement and dispossession of millions of people, it is surely time we did what the Nepal government started doing with Annapurna, and continued with Kangchenjunga.

A strategy of joint or community-based management, with appropriate inputs to help build capacity and tackle threats, would do much more to conserve wildlife. Even where zoning to maintain inviolate areas for wildlife is necessary, it will work more effectively if done with local people. "

-Ashish Kothari,Kalpavriksh.

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