University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
The Rocky Road of Social Sustainability
The Impact of Integrated Biodiversity Conservation and Development on the Local Realities in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar
Doctoral dissertation, December 2006.
The objective of this study is to examine the social impacts of the integrated conservation and development project (ICDP) aimed at biodiversity conservation and local socio-economic development in the Ranomafana National Park (RNP), Madagascar. Furthermore, the study explores social sustainability and justice of the ICDP in Ranomafana.
This ethnographically informed impact study uses of various field methods. The research material used consists of observation, interviews (key-person and focus group), school children's writings, official statistics and project documents. Fieldwork was conducted in three phases in 2001, 2002 and 2004 in twelve villages around the park, as well as in neighbouring areas of Ranomafana. However, four of those twelve villages were chosen for closer study.
This study consists of five independent articles and a concluding chapter. Social impacts were studied through reproductive health indicators as well as a life security approach. Equity and distribution of benefits and drawbacks of ICDP were analysed and the actors related to the conservation in Ranomafana were identified. The children and adolescents' environmental views were also examined.
The reproductive health indicators studied showed a poor state of reproductive health in the park area. Moreover, the existing social capital in the villages seemed to be fragmented due to economic difficulties that were partly caused by the conservation regulations. The ICDP in Ranomafana did not pay attention to the heterogeneity of the affected communities even though the local beneficiaries of the ICDP varied according to their ethnicity, living place, wealth, social position and gender. In addition, various conservation actors (local people in various groups, local authorities, tourist business owners, conservation NGOs and scientists) contest their interests over the forest, conservation and its related activities.
This study corroborates the same type of evidence and conclusions discussed in other similar cases elsewhere: so called social conservation programmes still cannot meet the needs of the people living near the protected areas; on the contrary, they even have a reverse impact on the people's lives.
A fundamental misunderstood assumption in the conservation process in Ranomafana was to consider the local people as a problem for biodiversity conservation. Major reasons for the failure of the ICDP in Ranomafana include a lack of local institutions that would have been able to communicate as equals with the conservation NGOs as well as to transfer the tradition of the authoritarian governance in conservation management together with the over-appreciation of scientific biodiversity, and lack of will to understand the local people's rights to use the forest for their livelihoods.
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© University of Helsinki 2006
Last updated 13.11.2006