A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Posted 8:38 PM by Tevita
A new paper challenges conservationists to focus on improving the livelihoods of rural poor
Biodiversity conservation is often associated with the protection of charismatic animals and beautiful landscapes. Missing is consideration of the role that biodiversity plays in the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world, who rely on hunting, plant collection, and other services afforded by biodiversity for everyday subsistence.
A new paper examines this discrepancy and proposes strategies to ensure that conservation strategies can better provide for the needs of populations that are most dependent on its services.
Writing in Biotropica, David Kaimowitz and Douglas Sheil of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Jakarta, Indonesia, argue that conservation requires a careful balance between preserving species from going extinct and meeting the human needs of some of the world's poorest populations. "For hundreds of millions of people, biodiversity is about eating, staying healthy, and finding shelter. Meeting these people's basic needs should receive greater priority in the conservation agenda," they write. "‘Pro-poor conservation'—that is, conservation that aims to support poor people— explicitly seeks to address basic human needs. Such an emphasis has many potential synergies with more conventional conservation goals."
So what's the solution?
Kaimowitz and Sheil say the basic principles of pro-poor conservation include "finding, developing, maintaining, and safeguarding managed landscapes that include adequate areas to serve as sources of fauna and flora for local people, especially those who are vulnerable and marginalized." This entails focusing on areas where "many people rely on declining wild resources with few substitutes" -- often drier places which are more heavily disturbed and have fewer charismatic animal species, like Sub-Saharan Africa and the mountainous areas of Asia and the Pacific. It means allowing the rural poor to make use of buffer zones around strictly protected areas and even establishing special zones specifically for their use. Further, communities should be actively involved in the design, implementation, and enforcement of rules regulating hunting, fishing, and gathering plant material, while limiting outsiders' access to local resources. Kaimowitz and Sheil write that these efforts may involve "the domestication or more intensive management of traditionally wild plants and animals."
"A pro-poor approach to conservation inevitably implies working closely with communities rather than fencing them out. It goes beyond most (though by no means all) previous ‘community,' ‘participatory,' or ‘development' efforts intended primarily to win local acceptance of other people's conservation agendas," they write. "It involves focusing on the weak and vulnerable, not only the politically perceptive and influential."
The authors don't suggest that pro-poor conservation will conserve everything; some species will require special efforts to preserve them. In these cases, communities may need to be compensated for forfeiting access to resources in order to protect these species.
Nevertheless, say the authors, conservation organizations will need to offer real benefits to local people or "retaining public funding or political support from governments in the tropics will prove increasingly difficult."
"We are not suggesting that species that do not benefit poor people should be allowed to disappear forever. But we are suggesting that conservation can and should address broader, more diversified, and more democratically defined goals, and should recognize and address the needs and aspirations of local people: especially the poor and vulnerable. Such efforts might allow people to live happier and more productive lives, and could also strengthen local support for conserving species for their own sake," they write.
"For hundreds of millions of people, biodiversity is about eating, staying healthy, and finding shelter. Such needs, in addition to those of the tiger and other endangered species, must also be considered a conservation priority. Clearly it is not a question of ‘either/or,' but rather of finding a better balance."
CITATION: David Kaimowitz and Douglas Sheil (2007). Conserving What and for Whom? Why Conservation Should Help Meet Basic Human Needs in the Tropics. Biotropica 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2007.00332.x
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