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Valuing and Evaluating Marine Ecosystem Services

Putting the Right Price on Marine Environments?

Julian Clifton, Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth and Richard K. F. Unsworth

The flow of ecosystem services from coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests sustains the livelihoods of billions of people worldwide. Faced with the global degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems, policy makers are increasingly focusing on ecosystem service valuation techniques to encourage conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Here we provide a review and synthesis of the available information on economic valuation techniques as applied to tropical marine habitats. Our study demonstrates the high variability and lack of consistency in outcomes from these studies. We conclude that, if the concept of ecosystem goods and services is to make a positive contribution towards managing the impacts of humans on the environment, then economic valuation approaches must reflect the inherent limitations of economic theory whilst emphasizing the complexity and heterogeneity of the natural environment and human decision making.

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Spiritual Beliefs and Ecological Traditions in Indigenous Communities in India

Enhancing Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation

Maria Costanza Torri and Thora Martina Herrmann

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From time immemorial, local and indigenous communities in India have developed traditions, representations, and beliefs about the forest and biodiversity. The cultural practices and beliefs of a community play a significant role in enhancing community-based initiatives, particularly in achieving sustainability in the long term. Nevertheless, too often conservation policies do not take into consideration the link between the culture of local communities and their environment. A comprehensive understanding of the relationship between cultural traditions and practices related to biodiversity and their current status and manifestations is crucial to the concept of effective and sustainable conservation policy. This article examines the traditional practices of the communities in the Sariska region (Rajasthan, India) as well as their beliefs and their values, underlining the special relationship that these tribal and indigenous communities maintain with the forest and their usefulness in community-based conservation. Some conclusive remarks on the importance of adapting conservation approaches to local cultural representations of the environment will be drawn.

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Kate Pride Brown

Why do some arid locations persist in having weak water conservation policies? And why do some wetter locales implement comparatively strong conservation requirements? Based upon 43 qualitative interviews with water stakeholders in four selected cities (Atlanta, Phoenix, San Antonio, Tampa), this article puts forward one contributing factor to explain this apparent contradiction: the variable “visibility” of stressed water resources. The material conditions of different water sources (e.g., groundwater, surface water) and geologies (i.e., during droughts or during flooding) provide variable opportunities to “see” water scarcity. The visual impacts of shrinking water resources can become a major motivating factor in the general public for increased water conservation. However, water supply is often physically invisible. In these circumstances, the image of water supply may be intentionally conjured in the public mind to produce similar concern. Assured, steady supply, on the other hand, can dampen the public will for strong conservation policy.

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Adrian Albano, Els van Dongen and Shinya Takeda

The Philippines is one of the many countries that currently acknowledge the presence of indigenous peoples (IPs) within their territories. This acknowledgment often comes with a formal recognition of the rights of IPs, including the right to practice their customary laws. Because of the equal existence of overarching state laws, this formally leads to a situation of legal pluralism for IPs. For many forest conservation advocates, legal pluralism for IPs, particularly with regard to land ownership and forest management, is expected to help conserve forests. This expectation, however, is founded on the erroneous assumption that the traditional land use of IPs is nondestructive and that traditional land ownership is communal. Using a relatively long historical perspective, this article demonstrates that these assumptions do not apply to the Kalanguya of Tinoc, the Philippines. In contrast to the notion of IPs being market-averse, this article further demonstrates that many Kalanguya have been and remain “capitalists”. The article favors the inclusion of a market-based forest conservation policy, which is arguably consistent with the reality of value pluralism.