Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Alleviation: Factors Influencing their Integration in Cambodia

Kara Scally-irvine (2010). Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Alleviation: Factors Influencing their Integration in Cambodia PhD Thesis, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland.

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Author Kara Scally-irvine
Thesis Title Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Alleviation: Factors Influencing their Integration in Cambodia
School, Centre or Institute School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Iean Russell
Dr Luke Leung
Dr Carl Smith
Total pages 271
Total colour pages 18
Total black and white pages 253
Subjects 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Abstract/Summary Aligning conservation objectives with those of poverty alleviation in developing countries has been an elusive goal for the last two – three decades. An approach known as Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) became an extremely popular means to achieve this. Unfortunately, despite considerable enthusiasm, widespread implementation, and financial support the performance of these has been underwhelming. The laudable aspiration of achieving conservation and development together has been questioned. Reviews of ICDPs have identified flaws in previous applications of the concept. General advice on how practical elements of future ICDPs might be modified has been proffered, however there is an absence of substantive suggestions about how the approach should be modified to address the problems it has suffered from. An interdisciplinary divide between conservation and related disciplines also hinders the cross-fertilisation of ideas and insights. Using Cambodia as a case study, the conundrum of integrating conservation and development was re-examined using a research approach addressing deficiencies identified in the literature. A holistic perspective using a mixture of methods to maximise opportunities for new insights was adopted. The objective was to identify factors that influence conservation and development and their integration in Cambodia, to compare these with factors already identified in the literature, and draw conclusions that can be applied to integrated conservation and development (ICD) in general. A systems view, which acknowledges that real world problems are non-linear and complex, was adopted. Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) was used to structure the research, which followed two streams of inquiry. The first ‘cultural’ stream used grounded theory: a qualitative approach that identifies core issues via an emergent analytical process that avoids preconception and forcing of data. The second ‘logic’ stream used Bayesian Belief Networks (BBN) to quantitatively model the situation in Cambodia to explore its dynamics and reveal leverage points where positive changes could be made. A pluralist paradigm permitted this combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The grounded theory analysis revealed a triad of central concepts; Engagement, Power and Control, with Engagement the most important. Engagement comprised four sub-categories; Capacity, Benefits, Time and Conceptual Buy-In, with Conceptual Buy-In emerging as the richest. The analysis confirmed many concepts such as building capacity and benefits that are typically discussed in relation to ICD. However a number of other critical issues, which receive much less attention, emerged during analysis, suggesting there are gaps in knowledge of ways to improve ICD. These primarily related to social and political processes (social capital), and highlighted the role trust and power dynamics play. Linkages were made to ‘resilience’ theory to suggest ways the socio-ecological systems that dictate ICD may be optimised to improve outcomes. BBN modelling suggested that in Cambodia, biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation are complementary and compatible goals. This contrasts more pessimistic conclusions sometimes found in the conservation literature. The presence or absence of non-governmental organisations was found to be an extremely influential factor determining the success of conservation and poverty alleviation initiatives, which has a number of practical implications. The model also suggested reducing dependence on natural resources by introducing medium and high value alternatives was one way in which conservation and development goals can be achieved simultaneously, as was reducing natural resource damage by minimising areas under concession. Building capacity, offering appropriate benefits and continuing to build awareness were reinforced as valuable objectives. Although the BBN model provided an adequate representation of the situation in Cambodia, the role political forces play and the social forces identified as critically important in the grounded theory analysis were conspicuously absent. Overall, BBNs are well suited to examining concrete and quantifiable factors but failed to capture other more abstract concepts that are not easily translated into quantifiable measures. This highlights the value of adopting a broad multimethodological approach in progressing ICD theory and practice. This research makes contributions to improving the integration of conservation and development in several ways. First, adopting a multimethodological approach in general, and including qualitative analysis in particular, to identify issues that influence the success of ICD is valuable. Second, the fundamental role social and political processes play were highlighted. If ICDPs are aware of, address, and support the effective functioning of these in their activities projects and programmes, sustainable and robust interventions are more likely. Third, practical recommendations can be derived from the analytical products of this work. This research suggests there is hope for achieving integrated conservation and development, but changes in perspective and approach are necessary. The disciplinary divide must be crossed if conservation is to effectively tackle the social and political forces that dictate the context in which it operates, and which play a central role in determining its success. Failure to do so will mean the conservation community may miss what is in front of them, due to artefacts of quantitative approaches that dominate its science-based tool box.
Keyword Integrated conservation and development
grounded theory
Bayesian belief networks
Additional Notes Colour pages: 28, 57, 76, 78, 87, 97, 115, 117, 127, 157, 159, 177, 214 colour and landscape: 86, 158, 189, 192, 193 landscape: 35-38, 80-82

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Created: Thu, 02 Jun 2011, 12:31:57 EST by Ms Kara Scally-irvine on behalf of Library - Information Access Service