Pro-Poor Conservation. What is it? How can we implement it?

At Just One Humanity, we are striving to make a difference. Our mission is to end extreme poverty in remote rural areas through sustainable solutions that preserve biodiversity and inspire global citizenship. Sometimes, talking about using conservation efforts to benefit the poor can seem abstract. To make it more tangible, we direct you to a common strategy called “Pro-Poor Conservation”. This concept reflects the need to conserve biodiversity and alleviate poverty at the same time. Components of a strong pro-poor conservation strategy include finding, developing, maintaining and safeguarding managed land areas with adequate biodiversity to meet the needs of vulnerable and marginalized communities (Kaimowitz & Sheil, 2007). Pro-poor conservation may involve changing both local and external practices to manage the area more effectively and working with communities to develop and manage rules about hunting, gathering plant materials, farming methods, fishing, and access to protected areas (Schroth et al. 2004). Overall, the goal of pro-poor conservation is to work directly with local communities and involve them in making important changes.

David Kaimowitz and Douglas Sheil explain in their article “Conserving What and for Whom? Why Conservation Should Help Meet Basic Human Needs in the Tropics” that “some of the best examples of the effectiveness of such conservation approaches come from the Pacific Islands, where traditional no-fishing zones helped to maintain fish stocks and other marine re-sources (Johannes 1978, Cinner et al. 2005). These approaches are increasingly being replicated in marine areas elsewhere (Johannes 2002, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization 2002, Gell & Roberts 2003). Though initially built on folk ecology, the approaches are becoming more science-led (Lubchenco et al. 2003, Pikitch et al. 2004), with researchers now claiming to satisfy both fishermen and conservationists (Meester et al. 2004).”

Changing the practices of both local people and external actors in ways that help maintain the plants and animals that local people use will often be essential. Needless to say, 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. It involves focusing on the weak and vulnerable, not only the politically perceptive and influential.

Below are additional articles that explain pro-poor conservation and offer additional success stories.

Community Wildlife Conservation Stories

Conservation and Poverty Reduction Project

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