Conservation vs. Development

The age-old adage. Had an interesting discussion with a co-working about conservation in a development context. We were both frustratingly wondering how to promote the idea of conservation in a community struggling to survive. Obviously I don’t have the answer to this question, but from what I’ve observed, there aren’t too many options.
The bridge between policy and conservation science is key. No matter what the communities attitudes are towards conservation, without a solid policy framework, not much conservation can take place. My observation in Madagascar was that communities made the link between conservation and their livelihood on their own. The intrinsic value of the forest to them was not only a cultural one, but they expressed their need of external help to preserve their watershed. Under a strong national conservation strategy, the community worked to preserve their forest according to national restriction. Within that context, environmental education was relatively simple.
Take away the government, take away the conservation policy and the community, no matter what their feelings are towards the forest, are vulnerable to external exploitation—a more lucrative endeavor than the free boots and jackets forest wardens used to get for protecting the forest.
This isn’t quite so simple. Under Ravalomanana’s rule, there was a lot of state-supported illegal exploitation. However, this was rather indirect, and not compromising the conservation attitudes of the individual farmers.

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