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Biodiversity Communities

Poverty, Development, and Biodiversity Conservation: Shooting in the Dark?

By Agun Agrawal, Kent Redford
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Poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation are basic social goals and part of the policy agenda of postcolonial states and international agencies. It is not surprising therefore that a large number of programmatic interventions have aimed to achieve the two goals at the same time. These interventions are funded by governments, conservation NGOs, bilateral and multilateral donor agencies, and private sector organizations. In this paper, we first examine the conceptual discussion around poverty and biodiversity, and then analyze three such interventions: community-based wildlife management, extractive reserves, and ecotourism. Our discussion shows that the literature on these programmatic interventions depends on relatively simplified understandings of poverty and biodiversity in stark contrast to the theoretical literature on the two concepts. Further, writings on programmatic interventions tend to operationalize poverty and biodiversity in distinct and quite different ways.