a strong conviction that local people were destructive agents who should not live within the borders of parks (Cronon, 1996). This notion led to the removal of local peoples and the near or complete destruction of their livelihoods, in the process straining relations between park authorities and local residents (e.g., Peluso, 1993; Guha, 1997).

The failure of the park model led to a dynamic round of experimentation with community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) starting in the late 1980s. Here the core idea was that the government needed to give local people a stake in the success or failure of a park. The theory was that if local people profited from ecotourism, they would actively support efforts to conserve wildlife within and around the borders of a park. Associated with this flurry of experimentation was scholarship championing this approach (e.g., Metcalf, 1994) as quite positive whereas others, most notably Neumann (1997, 2002), saw CBNRM—and related approaches such as buffer zones—as just another disguised extension of a park model that ultimately constrained the livelihoods of local people. Still others saw the way in which CBNRM was implemented by governments as the major problem (e.g., Logan and Moseley, 2002).

By the late 1990s, there was a group of conservation biologists—most notably Terborgh (1999, 2000)—arguing that CBNRM had completely failed to conserve biodiversity and that there should be a return to a stricter and more robust form of the park model, sometimes referred to as fortress conservation. Subsequent scholarship critiqued the reemerging fortress conservation model, questioning whether it really served to conserve biodiversity (Robbins et al., 2006) and pointing out that it was still devastating for local livelihoods (Wilshusen et al., 2002). These studies highlight a growing body of work in the geographical sciences that underscores the importance of incorporating local perspectives and ideas in the development of biodiversity and ecosystem conservation strategies (Stevens, 2002; Kates et al., 2005).

Confronting these issues from an integrated natural and social sciences perspective is a major challenge that calls upon the integrative perspective and analytical tools of the geographical sciences (e.g., Turner et al., 1995; Liverman et al., 1998; Lambin et al., 1999; Fox et al., 2002; Walsh and Crews-Meyer, 2002). These integrated approaches are in the early stages of being formally incorporated into LCS (Turner et al., 2005, 2007) and should be examined for inclusion in the specific context of biodiversity and ecosystem conservation.


Lessons learned by geographical scientists in the past two decades from attempts to model the process of land-use and land-cover change, and to project future distributions of land use and land cover, suggest that socially sensitive and integrated research approaches within the geographical sciences could greatly assist in the development and implementation of viable conservation strategies (e.g., Pontius et al., 2007). The ability of the geographical sciences to combine field studies, remote sensing data, climate data, and land-change models to understand ecosystem changes and biodiversity distribution will be critical to developing land-use policies and conservation strategies in the coming decade.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement