Institutional and Other Obstacles to Protecting Wildlife: Comparisons among developing countries.
I recently read a few articles that have dealt with institutional and other difficulties that countries experience in trying to protect species. Dearden and Bennett (Dearden, Philip and Bennett, Michelle. (2005). Trends in Global Protected Area Governance, 1992–2002 Environmental Management Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 89–100) point out the conflicts between goals of achieving local participation in conservation efforts versus the goal of improving biodiversity. For example, in Nepal, the Lantang National Park was established primarily to protect the red panda and the conservation efforts, according to Dearden and Bennett achieved “high marks” for its participation on the part of locals but the park’s panda habitat has nevertheless been “heavily grazed” (over 60%) and has “resulted in unacceptably high mortality rates of 44%” for adults and “86% for cubs” (p. 97). I discuss in my Wildlife Politics book the inevitable conflicts that have occurred between conservation objectives and development goals that have occurred since both developing and supporting countries have tried to achieve both objectives since they don't want to have it appear that wildlife conservation is coming at the expense of poor who live near the wildlife. In Liberia, E&E news reported that two forest rangers were killed by a mob in Sapo National Park. The mob had been illegally settling in the park—the country’s first and largest protected area with a rain forest and just one month earlier, another ranger had “been tortured” by other illegal settlers in the park—the story is available at https://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2017/05/09/stories/1060054261 A article in Science by Dennis Normile (Science 12 May 2017: Vol. 356, Issue 6338, pp. 573) describes a “crackdown by China” on coastal fisheries so they will be closed for up to 4 months to give depleted stocks of fish time to recover. But the article also notes that some observers believe that the ban will not be effective because “fishers will strive to make up for lost income” when the ban is lifted and that the ultimate solution would be to “reduce China’s fishing fleet overcapacity” which the government does have plans to do. A 2002 article by Catherine Courtney et al. states that there were some reports of increased fish abundance in certain coastal areas in the Philippines in their conservation efforts but that overall “less than 20 percent of the targeted municipalities said they had accomplished “key basic service benchmarks.” The article is as follows: Courtney, Catherine A., White, Alan T., and DeGuit, Evelyn. (2002). Building Philippine Local Government Capacity for Coastal Resource Management. Coastal Management, 30: 27-45. Ishihara et al. describe the attempt to preserve Oriental White Storks in Tokyo City in Japan using a PES (Payments for Ecosystem Services) approach that provides financial incentives to the hamlets by giving financial contributions directly to the hamlet budget plus the hamlet benefited from fees assessed on visitors to the hamlet as well as charges on the visitors for using “communal facilities.” Conflicts occurred between the “outsiders” who gave top priority to the conservation goal versus insider hamlet residents who wanted to benefit the hamlet which has been suffering from depopulation and aging as younger residents moved away. One conflict occurred over who should receive the financial benefits—the hamlet officials insisted that the hamlet should be the recipient rather than the individuals who participated directly in the conservation efforts and their views prevailed. The problem was that many of those who disliked the payments to the hamlet community as a whole and preferred the individualistic approach were younger residents. The article employs a "critical" perspective on PES showing that this approach makes assumptions about the best method of providing incentives but these assumptions can conflict with cultural and social norms. The article is as follows: Ishihara, Hiroe, Pascual, Unai, and Hodge, Ian. (2017). Dancing With Storks: The Role of Power Relations in Payments for Ecosystem Services. Ecological Economics 139 (2017) 45–54. One final article is by Andrea Olive concerning two developed countries—the U.S. and Canada: Olive, Andrea. It is just not fair: the Endangered Species Act in the United States and Ontario. 2016. Ecology and Society, 31(3). The author conducted interviews with landholders subject to ESA (for U.S.) and SAR (Species at Risk in Canada) restrictions for conserving wildlife. Her article emphasizes that people subject to such restrictive laws need to believe in their fairness if they are to accept them. She notes early in the article that this acceptance is important because “although the law regulates private property…that regulation is difficult to implement and monitor. There are thousands and thousands of land parcels to which the ESAs apply regulatory measures. The governments cannot watch all landowners at all times. The implication of this is that both laws rely on landowners to voluntarily obey the law and steward land for endangered species.” The interviews found that landholders thought they had “paid for conservation” already by paying taxes on their land and thus thought they should not bear the burden of losses due to restrictions by the laws—these should be shared by society at large. She also found that a significant proportion of the landowners considered themselves good “stewards of the land” and wanted recognition for their efforts from the government. Olive suggests that landholders should be given this recognition.
Overall, these article demonstrate that implementing wildlife conservation effort is anything but automatic. Imposing regulations and restrictions on humans to protect wildlife is not an easy sell. Government has limited resources for these programs—their goals are generally far more ambitious than the resources such as staff (or incentives) they can provide to local residents to cooperate. In short, wildlife conservation is a very challenging task
I have just completed a book titled "Wildlife Politics" that is scheduled to be published by Cambridge University Press on March 30, 2017. The book covers broadly all major aspects of wildlife conservation policy worldwide. During my research for the book, I noticed that there was no blog available for sharing informaton on wildlife conservation and thus I set up this blog to accomplish this purpose. Please share any informaticoncerning issues related to wildife policy and politics. I welcome feedback from users concerning this blog and website.