Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Promise and Peril of Large-Scale Conservation: An Appraisal of the Selous Niassa Wildlife Corridor, Tanzania
by Picard, Catherine H., Ph.D., Yale University, 2010, 382; 3440629
Abstract (Summary)

Across the globe, efforts to conserve biodiversity are expanding from individual protected areas to large-scale ecosystems. By scaling up conservation efforts, practitioners seek to connect landscapes fragmented by political boundaries, restore wildlife migration routes, and maintain ecological services and functions. While the ecological rationale for large-scale conservation has been articulated, the social and political implications of the model are less well understood.

This dissertation asks if the Selous Niassa Wildlife Corridor (SNWC) in southern Tanzania is a model for large-scale conservation in the common interest. Conservation is ultimately about how people interact and make decisions in order to secure values and expectations; the common interest refers to those values that are widely shared and demanded. Accordingly, the Corridor is framed as a medium through which people strive to secure specific values. After clarifying goals, trends, and perceived problems in the SNWC, I examine the underlying conditions (historic, socio-cultural, and economic) that shape how problems are constructed and resolved. Using these data, projections of the future are developed and recommendations are offered to help participants identify, secure, and sustain their common interests.

My appraisal suggests that the common interest has not yet been identified or secured in the SNWC. Three main challenges account for this. First, there are profoundly differing estimations of what problems exist in the SNWC and how to solve them. Moreover, decision-making in the Corridor is restricted to resolving technical problems such as poaching and habitat fragmentation; entirely overlooked are the governance and constitutive problems that drive these threats. Second, the social process is increasingly fragmented as evidenced by participants' limited understanding of each other's perspectives, myths, and value demands. Third, there are compounding weaknesses throughout the decision-making process, including: restricted debate, insufficient authority and control, and inadequate evaluations.

The ability of the SNWC to serve as a model for large-scale conservation in the common interest depends upon participants' ability to recognize and upgrade social and decision-making processes. Given that the SNWC is similar in formula and doctrine to other large-scale conservation approaches, the lessons harvested from this dissertation can improve the practice of large-scale conservation globally.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burch, William R., Jr., Clark, Susan G.
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-B 72/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Environmental management, Natural Resource Management, Public policy
Keywords: Large-scale conservation, Tanzania, Wildlife corridors
Publication Number: 3440629
ISBN: 978-1-124-42146-9
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