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Classroom Resources: Conservation and Poverty

Conservation and Poverty
By Fred Pearce


Spring 2011 / Vol. 12 No. 1

Read the article


Discussion Questions

  1. How does this article characterize the conflict between protected areas and sustainable development with respect to poverty?
  2. How does the romantic ideal of the “noble savage” play into discussions about poverty and the goals of international conservation organizations?
  3. In what sense is the loss of access to natural resources by new conservation laws a form of population dispossession (as argued by Schmidt-Soltau)?  In what sense is that characterization misleading or inappropriate (as argued by Curran)?
  4. What are the benefits of basing a local economy on tourism?  What are the risks?
  5. What does the tendency for lucrative natural resource rights to end uo being “taken over by either elites within the communities or powerful outsiders” say about the troubled relationship between conservation and poverty?
  6. In what ways are conservationists and those who live off of the land in conflict over goals?  What rights and responsibilities do these groups have?  What do you think they can ethically be asked to give up to the other in terms of achieving their group’s goals?
  7. In the inset box “A Brief History of the Marriage between Conservation and Social Projects,” Bill Adams is quoted as saying “The political challenge of conservation is increasingly being framed in terms of the environmental claims of the rich versus the subsistence needs of the poor.”  What other ways could one envision framing the political challenge of conservation other than “rich vs. poor”?

Websites for Further Information

Conservation and Poverty in the News

  • Can the Asian boom save room for tigers? (New York Times, January 28, 2011):
  • Muddy road molds debate on the future of Guyana (New York Times, May 8, 2010):
  • Galloping growth, and hunger in India (New York Times, February 11, 2011):

Peer-reviewed Literature (in addition to the citations listed in the article)

  • Hecht, S. 2010.  The new rurality: globalization, peasants and the paradoxes of landscapes.  Land Use Policy 27: 161-169.
  • Yarnall, K., and M. Price. 2010.  Migration, development and a new rurality in the Valle Alto, Bolivia.  Journal of Latin American Geography 9: 107-124.

Key Concepts

  • Poverty
  • Biodiversity hotspots
  • Sustainable development
  • Resettlement
  • Ecotourism
  • Economics
  • Community forestry
  • Ecosystem services
  • REDD
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