Axford, Joanna (2007). WHAT CONSTITUTES SUCCESS IN PACIFIC ISLAND COMMUNITY CONSERVED AREAS? PhD Thesis, School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, University of Queensland.

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Author Axford, Joanna
School, Centre or Institute School of Natural and Rural Systems Management
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Marcus Hockings
Abstract/Summary Community conserved areas (CCAs) are one of the most prominent forms of protected area in the Pacific islands region. CCAs provide a more socially appropriate approach to conservation than government or exclusive protected areas. Despite this, few CCAs in the Pacific islands have been judged a success. This history of failed initiatives has resulted in increased emphasis on what is required to achieve success at all stages of CCA development (e.g. site selection, establishment and management). Despite the emphasis on success in CCAs and other protected area approaches, the term ‘success’ has not been examined or defined, but is generally framed within expectations, values and disciplinary boundaries. As a result, what actually constitutes success, from a variety of perspectives, is largely unknown. If we are to understand why CCAs are failing, then it is important to unravel the concept of success itself. This thesis is based on the premise that it is essential to first understand what constitutes success in CCAs from the perspective of the actors associated with these areas, if we are to understand why they are or are not successful. This work was approached through three major phases. The first phase reviewed the research area and provided an overview of the issues and the context for inquiry. Upon commencement of this research there was no up-to-date centralised source of Pacific protected area information. The Pacific Protected Area Database was developed as part of this work. Analysis of the database demonstrated the growth and development of the Pacific island’s formal protected area system over the past 100 years. The rise of CCAs as a formally recognised approach to protected area management within the region is identified. The new wave of political support and international promotion of protected areas within the Pacific islands and its impact on CCAs were considered. Given the perception that Pacific CCAs are failing to succeed, the nature of success from the perspective of the different CCA actors were explored in the second phase of this work. This phase, the most in-depth and detailed stage, represents the foundation for theory building. Two separate data-gathering activities with insiders (local actors) and outsiders (external actors) were undertaken. Firstly, outsiders connected with Pacific island CCAs were surveyed through a qualitative questionnaire which explored the issue of success and failure in Pacific CCAs. Time was then spent in five Pacific island CCAs, investigating local-level perspectives of success and failure. Each CCA differed in its management approach, objectives, history and connections with external parties. Community perceptions of success and failure in their CCA, as well as their understanding of conservation, the CCA and motivation to support the village CCA, were explored. The third phase of the research synthesised the results and investigated the potential to reconcile various perceptions of success. Outsiders were again surveyed through a qualitative questionnaire. This last data-gathering activity explored the validity of the results gathered from fieldwork with insiders and the broad applicability of those results in the other CCAs in the Pacific islands. Outsiders were surveyed to explore the perceptual congruency between insider and outsider perceptions of success, conservation and CCA motivation. Outsider views were cooriented against insider views. Results indicate that success is multidimensional and a diversity of perceptions of success exist between and within local CCA communities and between and within outsiders involved with Pacific CCAs. Both insider and outsider groups identified common success themes related to: community, benefits, environmental elements, management, and, external involvement. However, the content, meaning and emphasis of each of these themes differed greatly between and within each group of actors. Specifically, the dissertation provides evidence of differences in how community members and outsiders view CCAs and their success. It was found that success perceptions are influenced by the individual’s frame of reference, especially how they conceive conservation and the CCA. To demonstrate how success is conceived a Conservation-Success model was developed. The model demonstrates how the frame of reference used for judging success will reflect individual actor contextual factors, how conservation was communicated and understood, as well as individual expectations of the CCA. The outcomes of this research challenge current approaches to CCA implementation and evaluation, in which internal and external views are regarded as congruent when, in fact, they are incongruent in many aspects. Insiders and outsiders have at times, vastly different understandings of conservation and the CCA, and therefore different systems for assessing CCA success. The results highlight some of the problems and gaps with current approaches and understandings of CCAs in the Pacific, with regional and global relevance and applicability.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 16:24:08 EST