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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   Table of Contents - Current issue
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April-June 2022
Volume 20 | Issue 2
Page Nos. 59-194

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SPECIAL ISSUE: EXPLORING CONVIVIAL CONSERVATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE  

Exploring Convivial Conservation in Theory and Practice: Possibilities and Challenges for a Transformative Approach to Biodiversity Conservation p. 59
Kate Massarella, Judith E Krauss, Wilhelm Kiwango, Robert Fletcher
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_53_22  
Convivial conservation has been put forward as a radical alternative to transform prevailing mainstream approaches that aim to address global concerns of biodiversity loss and extinction. This special issue includes contributions from diverse disciplinary and geographical perspectives which critically examine convivial conservation's potential in theory and practice and explore both possibilities and challenges for the approach's transformative ambitions. This introduction focuses on three issues which the contributions highlight as critical for facilitating transformation of mainstream conservation. First, the different ways in which key dimensions of justice — epistemic, distributive, and participatory and multi-species justice — intersect with the convivial conservation proposal, and how potential injustices might be mitigated. Second, how convivial conservation approaches the potential to facilitate human and non-human coexistence. Third, how transformative methodologies and innovative conceptual lenses can be used to further develop convivial conservation. The diverse contributions show that convivial conservation has clear potential to be transformative. However, to realise this potential, convivial conservation must avoid previous proposals' pitfalls, such as trying to 'reinvent the wheel' and being too narrowly focused. Instead, convivial conservation must continue to evolve in response to engagement with a plurality of perspectives, experiences, ideas and methodologies from around the world.
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Living with Gorillas? Lessons from Batwa-Gorillas' Convivial Relations at Bwindi Forest, Uganda p. 69
Christine Ampumuza
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_30_21  
In recent years, convivial conservation has been proposed as a better alternative to fortress conservation by working with marginalised communities. This is a welcome development because most of the injustices and failures of fortress conservation arose from neglecting local communities' view of being with nature, and knowledges of nature (plural of knowledge highlights that there are multiple ways and types of acquiring and transmitting knowledge through generations). A critical analysis of the conservation literature indicates a disharmony between the indigenous ways, and Northern ways of being with nature—an ontological discord in conservation. This article considers convivial conservation as starting point to address this discord. Based on the content analysis of stories of Batwa's historical relations with gorillas, unstructured interviews, ethnographic village stays, and empirical observations, we argue that open-mindedness—to learn from, to be affected by and affect our fellow dwellers on earth (human and non-human)—marks the starting point of convivial living. Therefore, convivial conservation can further be enriched by expanding the scope of historical reparations to include knowledges that have been historically excluded. To do so, convivial conservation scholars need to emphasise the co-creation of knowledge with their human and non-human counterparts. By doing so, these scholars will safeguard against marginalising other ways of knowing, thus achieving its transformative agenda.
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Conviviality in Disrupted Socionatural Landscapes: Ecological Peacebuilding around Akagera National Park p. 79
Elaine (Lan Yin) Hsiao
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_24_21  
Convivial conservation presents itself as a vision of radical cohabitation across the Whole Earth, requiring people at the fringes of protected areas or people everywhere to manage day-to-day coexistence and conflicts with non-human species. This article assesses human-wildlife conflict interventions—an electric fence, compensation for wildlife damages, and traditional ecological knowledge—in a disrupted socionatural landscape, Akagera National Park in Rwanda, from the perspective of a framework of ecological peace. Ecological peace is defined through Galtung's (1969) theory of negative peace (freedom from direct violence) and positive peace (freedom from physical, cultural, and structural violence) as applied to relations between human and non-human species. While barriers and compensation schemes may make sense from the perspective of the conservation community's interests in reducing the negative impacts of wildlife on people, or vice versa, and especially towards improving people's perceptions of wildlife and environmental conservation, these human-wildlife conflict interventions may offer only negative ecological peace. Convivial conservation requires human-wildlife conflict interventions to go beyond negative and liberal peace approaches towards positive ecological peace to transform human and non-human relations for radical cohabitation across the Whole Earth.
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Going Back to the Roots: Ubuntu and Just Conservation in Southern Africa p. 92
Mathew Bukhi Mabele, Judith E Krauss, Wilhelm Kiwango
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_33_21  
Given growing human influence on the earth system's functioning, caring for nature has never been this critical. However, whether for economic interests or 'wilderness' preservation, attempts to save nature have been grounded on a Western scientific philosophy of separating it from people's ways of living, especially through 'protected areas'. Under the banner 'convivial conservation', which advocates socio-ecological justice and structural transformations in the global economic system, an alternative idea called 'promoted areas' has been proposed, advocating for conservation which promotes nature for, to, and by humans. Here, we argue that 'promoted areas' are best fitted with decolonial thinking in conservation science and practice. In southern Africa, one available 'decolonial option' is Ubuntu philosophy, which is anchored on the ethical principle of promoting life through mutual caring and sharing between and among humans and nonhumans. Ubuntu disengages from western ways of knowing about human–environment interactions, as it is predicated on promoting the many links between humans and nonhumans. From this, we argue that instituted through Ubuntu, 'promoted areas' re-initiate a harmony between human beings and physical nature, as practices of individualistic, excessive extractions of nonhuman nature are discouraged, and human–nonhuman relationships based on respect, solidarity, and collaboration are celebrated.
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'Rooting,' For Change: The Role of Culture Beyond Resilience and Adaptation p. 103
Paolo Bocci
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_7_21  
Confronted with concerns about rising biodiversity loss and pollution, conservation on the Galápagos has recently moved away from the goal of preserving pristine ecosystems to managing a complex socio-ecological system (SES). While acknowledging the positive aspects of this model, this article shows that the conceptualisation of “the human factor” in resilient SESs often limits local participation to compliance to existing plans of conservation. In so doing, I argue that participation under resilience ignores the potential that a more nuanced understanding of humans' relation to non-human nature poses for rethinking conservation as a whole. Drawing on ethnographic research, I discuss how local farmers affirm arraigo (a culture of belonging), in contrast to the imaginary of inhospitable islands that can only be visited—either for tourism or scientific research. By showing farmers' active role in the highlands, this article expands on the potential for 'convivial conservation' to reframe the traditional (and limiting) framework for local participation in conservation. This role offers important lessons about transitioning conservation away from a northern, protectionist agenda towards one that is driven by social justice and local agenda.
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“They Belong Here”: Understanding the Conditions of Human-wolf Coexistence in North-Western Spain Highly accessed article p. 113
Hanna L Pettersson, Claire H Quinn, George Holmes, Steven M Sait
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_13_21  
Reintegrating wolves in human-dominated landscapes constitutes a significant conservation challenge. After decades of studying human-wolf interactions through a conflict lens, there is growing recognition that more nuanced perspectives are needed. However, this recognition has hitherto yielded few practical changes, and few have studied what underpins successful coexistence. Here we show that disproportionate focus on and resource allocation to conflict within conservation programmes risks undermining existing convivial relationships with large carnivores. Using a coexistence lens, we studied human-wolf interactions in Sanabria-La Carballeda in Spain; the region has one of the highest densities of wolves in Europe. We explored the underlying social and ecological conditions that have permitted both wolves and people to persist in the area, studied the mutual impacts, and surveyed how interactions are influenced by broader socio-economic processes. The findings of this novel approach to studying human-wildlife interactions elucidates how areas of functional coexistence have been neglected in policy, leaving them vulnerable to depopulation, low agricultural profitability, and the loss of biocultural diversity. When institutions fail to support functional coexistence, we risk losing the knowledge, the traditions and the trust of those who have sustained Europe's large carnivores, thereby undermining transitions to more convivial human-wildlife interactions in the future.
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Convivial Conservation from the Bottom Up: Human-Bear Cohabitation in the Rodopi Mountains of Bulgaria Highly accessed article p. 124
Svetoslava Toncheva, Robert Fletcher, Esther Turnhout
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_208_20  
This article describes a case of human-bear cohabitation in the Rodopi mountains (Yagodina-Trigrad area) of Bulgaria. The lack of protected areas in the region and the increasing number of brown bears (Ursus arctos) have resulted in both human-wildlife conflicts and the development of mechanisms and practices to facilitate cohabitation in the absence of formal rules to regulate coexistence of human and nonhuman species. However, these mechanisms and practices are currently undergoing transformations due to newfound protection of the species under national and EU legislation, respectively. The paper explores these dynamics through a case study of relatively successful cohabitation in the region. Our analysis identifies and outlines local adaptation and conservation mechanisms developed to live with bears as well as strategies to benefit from the bears' presence. In this way, the study contributes to current debates concerning how to best facilitate 'convivial conservation' promoting coexistence between humans and wildlife by identifying factors in this case that have facilitated a bottom-up approach to cohabitation that might be tested or adopted for use in similar situations elsewhere.
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Transforming Convivial Conservation: Towards More-Than-Human Participation in Research p. 136
Severine van Bommel, Susan Boonman-Berson
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_29_21  
Convivial conservation requires a deep structural shift in research methods and methodology. Although convivial conservation calls for moving beyond the dichotomy of the human and the non-human, this dichotomy is often reproduced in the research methods and methodologies that are used. Most (conservation) researchers have been trained to investigate what non-humans might 'mean' to humans, thereby inevitably silencing the voices of non-humans. This research article identifies a number of threshold concepts and methodologies by turning to multi-species work in nature conservation and challenges the historical anthropocentric framings in this field. It critically challenges the convivial conservation concept by questioning who or what is counted as a research participant from this perspective. Additionally, the article outlines different multi-species research methods and methodology and puts forward the need for threshold and promiscuous methods developed with collaboration between social and natural scientists and non-humans to bring about transformative change in conservation as envisaged by the proponents of convivial conservation. It concludes by offering ways to promote greater conviviality in nature conservation research through a more expansive sense of research participants, recognition of their inter-subjectivities, and multi-sensory communication of their situated knowledges.
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Micro-Politics and the Prospects for Convivial Conservation: Insights from the Corbett Tiger Reserve, India p. 146
Revati Pandya
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_25_21  
This research article calls for explicit attention to micro-politics through engagement with a feminist intersectional lens for enabling convivial conservation. Convivial conservation provides a vision for equitable conservation through simultaneously pursuing structural change and addressing context specific micro-politics. This research article draws on feminist intersectional research and feminist political ecology to argue that convivial conservation needs to explicitly engage with the ways that intersections of class, gender, caste, and other identity positions shape the micro-politics of power around land rights and opportunities for benefitting from conservation interventions. It draws on findings from two forest villages near the Corbett Tiger Reserve in India to demonstrate the micro-politics that shape the variegated access and tourism dependencies experienced by different local residents. Engaging with learnings from implementation of the progressive Forest Rights Act (FRA) which intended to redress these issues, this analysis highlights that the FRA serves as both a cautionary and potentially transformative example for furthering the convivial conservation vision of local people's engagement with conservation areas.
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Convivial Conservation Prospects in Europe—From Wilderness Protection to Reclaiming the Commons p. 156
George Iordachescu
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_35_21  
Recent high-end EU discussions on biodiversity conservation support the strict protection of wild nature, thereby amplifying concerns about environmental and social injustices. Parallelly, grass-roots and academic proposals advocate for the fair recognition of community-protected areas and broader political negotiations regarding human–wildlife interactions. This paper argues that land commons offer valuable lessons toward implementing the convivial conservation vision as advanced by Büscher and Fletcher (2019). For example, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 endorses strict protection of wild nature as a core element of economic relaunching. However, the focus on wild nature rules out the development of various biodiversity hotspots under human impact. Against this strict separation, various initiatives converge to make visible the efforts of indigenous peoples and local communities who combine resource governance with biodiversity conservation beyond free-market logics and human–nature dichotomies. This contribution takes the case of the Romanian forest commons and explores the synergies between these historical institutions and the convivial conservation proposal which advances post-capitalist conservation politics. The paper argues that the translation of conviviality to concrete pathways towards transformation is timely in Europe, and the commons offer valuable lessons which could advance a transition to more democratic and just forms of conservation.
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Human-Wildlife Coexistence: Business as Usual Conservation or an Opportunity for Transformative Change? Highly accessed article p. 167
Valentina Fiasco, Kate Massarella
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_26_21  
The term 'coexistence' is increasingly being used by academics and practitioners to reflect a re-conceptualisation of human-wildlife interactions (HWI). Coexistence has become a popular buzzword and is central to several proposals for transformative change in biodiversity conservation, including convivial conservation. Although ideas about how to achieve coexistence proliferate, critical exploration of the framing and use of the term is lacking. Through analysis of semi-structured interviews, webinars and online and offline documents, this paper critically interrogates how 'coexistence' is being conceptualised and translated into practice. We characterise coexistence as a boundary object that reflects a broadly agreed on 'hopeful mission', while being flexible enough to be meaningful for a wide range of actors. We identify three main framings of coexistence, which reflect the ways of knowing, values and approaches of different epistemic communities. We find that although the idea of coexistence has the potential to help facilitate transformative change in wildlife management, so far it largely manifests in practice as a positive-sounding label for standardised packages of tools and incentives. We argue that as the meaning of coexistence continues to be contested, there is an opportunity for activists, academics, and practitioners to reclaim its transformative roots. We identify a role for convivial conservation within this agenda: to re-politicise coexistence through the concept of 'meaningful coexistence'.
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Why the Convivial Conservation Vision Needs Complementing to be a Viable Alternative for Conservation in the Global South p. 179
Wilhelm Andrew Kiwango, Mathew Bukhi Mabele
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_45_21  
Convivial conservation is presented as an anti-capitalist approach and alternative to current mainstream conservation as well as proposals for 'half-earth' and 'new conservation' approaches. This paper reviews these approaches and situates them in the global South conservation and development context. Using the Ruaha-Rungwa Ecosystem in Tanzania as a case study, it examines elements of the convivial conservation vision in relation to three critical conservation problems: path dependencies of state conservation agencies; heavy reliance on tourism revenue; and political interests in community conservation areas. The analysis draws on empirical data obtained from published studies and extensive field-based research by the first author in the study area. It demonstrates that while the convivial conservation approach may be considered a radical and plausible alternative to the 'half earth' and new conservation proposals, its implementation in the global South will remain challenging in the face of the existing conservation problems. The paper suggests a socio-ecological justice approach that complements the convivial conservation vision through a systemic incorporation of the rights and responsibilities of different conservation stakeholders from the perspective of procedural, recognition, distributive, and environmental justice.
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BOOK REVIEWS Top

Is CITES Protecting Wildlife?: Assessing Implementation and Compliance p. 190
Jared D Margulies
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_12_22  
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Faunal Medicalisation in Mao's China p. 193
Emily T Yeh
DOI:10.4103/cs.cs_5_22  
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