Reconciling conservation and development in Madagascar's rapidly-expanding protected area system
Gardner, Charlie J.
The creation and management of protected areas is our principal approach to conserving biodiversity worldwide. Management and governance models for these diverse institutions have become more pluralistic in recent decades, moving away from the traditional exclusionary protected area model that has proliferated historically. Indeed, most new protected areas are being established for ‘multiple-use’ and, therefore, permit a range of human livelihood activities to occur within their boundaries. However, we know little about how such sites can be effectively managed.\ud \ud In this thesis, I use an interdisciplinary mixed-methods approach to investigate the implementation of new multiple-use protected areas in Madagascar. Madagascar is a global conservation priority characterised by high levels of endemism, and has a largely forest-dependent biota. Since most of the human population is rural and dependent on natural resources for subsistence and income to differing extents, the expanded protected area system is managed for both conservation and socioeconomic goals (poverty alleviation and development). However, these objectives may be conflicting since human resource use can be a significant driver of biodiversity loss. I begin by examining trends in new protected area establishment at the nationwide-level to generate insights into protected area categorisation, and the role of natural resources and protected areas in poverty alleviation. I then consider the impacts of forest use on biodiversity, through a literature review and empirical study of bird and reptile communities across a degradation gradient. The findings indicate that habitat change arising from forest use may impact the high-value, endemic component of the fauna most negatively. In addition, I develop a simple index to enumerate the conservation value of different species. This is then used to determine how degradation influences the conservation value of exploited habitats, as well as assessing if the index is a suitable tool that can be used to prioritise conservation investment across a portfolio of sites. Finally, I seek to understand the drivers of natural resource use by rural communities within the Ranobe PK32 protected area, and discover that both bushmeat hunting and charcoal production are fallback activities or supplements to other livelihoods.\ud \ud The evidence collated in the thesis, derived from both ecological and social perspectives, suggests that managing new protected areas in Madagascar for conservation and development is overambitious, and that, at least in forest areas, management cannot be optimised towards both goals simultaneously.
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