Conserving Tropical Biodiversity Through Local Initiative: It May Be Essential, But Can It Be Done?

TitleConserving Tropical Biodiversity Through Local Initiative: It May Be Essential, But Can It Be Done?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsGarrity D, Amoroso V,
Conference NameEconomic Growth and Sustainable Resource Management: Are They Compatible?
Conference LocationBukidnon, Philippines
KeywordsAgriculture, Biodiversity, natural resources, SANREM, tropics, watershed
AbstractThe SANREM Program aims to develop a new paradigm of research for Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources Management: A paradigm that includes people, communities, and local government bodies as reviewers, partners, and implementers of research with a depth and continuity of involvement that is quite unconventional. It is a paradigm that takes the whole landscape and lifeseape of a watershed as the basis for formulating the questions and for resolving them. This approach seemed wellsuited to tackling some of the really difficult issues in protecting the natural habitats of unique tropical biodiversity in the face of inexorable human pressure. The Biodiversity Consortium of SANREM set out to see how it might apply this framework to develop tools and approaches that would increase the chances of conserving biodiversity with the active involvement of the communities that live near, and draw economic sustenance from, those habitats. This paper reviews that experience. It focuses on what was done and why, and analyzes the implications. But beyond that it attempts to convey how our conceptual approach evolved over the few short years we have been working together. The story may therefore convey the iterative nature of trial and adjustment that are fundamental to such experiments at the interface between research and development. Outsiders represent the interests of the global and national stakeholders in biodiversity conservation. They invariably enter with naive ideas and little understanding of how complex the local biophysical, social, economic, and political situation actually is. The broad perception is that some type of participatory approach is the only feasible way forward. Examples of successful approaches are therefore essential in order to derive cost-effective methods for wider scale adaptation. Experiments are expensive; but they are certainly cheaper than the many huge development programs that had a flawed design because no research was done beforehand. The paper will report progress in scientific research, and in evolving processes to achieve participatory mechanisms to conserve the natural habitat of Kitanglad Range Nature Park, and-the surrounding natural areas in the agricultural landscape. The processes are still at a formative stage. Sustained outside support will be required for some years to ensure their success.