University of Cambridge > > Cambridge Conservation Seminars  > Trees, ‘tribes' and taboos: The political ecology of conservation and culture in Madagascar

Trees, ‘tribes' and taboos: The political ecology of conservation and culture in Madagascar

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Madagascar’s conservation policy landscape has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. NGOs and donors have tried to move beyond coercive legislation to greater community involvement in natural resource management. Policies have attempted to work through existing indigenous institutions, as well as create new laws to deal with resource management. At the same time the Malagasy government, as part of its 2003 ‘Durban Vision’, has tripled the extent of the island’s protected areas. Policy thus continues to reflect tensions between coercion and local participation. I explore these tensions through a case study of conservation policy in the dry deciduous forests of western Madagascar, as well my recent experiences editing a book on ‘Conservation and Environment Management in Madagascar’ (Routledge, 2014). I argue that conservation policy has tended to be based on problematic stereotypes of ethnic identity and indigenous land use practices. I also argue that efforts by NGOs to engage with rural households have often been ‘lost in translation’ for two reasons: i) the perceptions and priorities of NGOs do not fit with indigenous views of nature; and ii) indigenous institutions and power nodes do not map easily onto newly created laws and resource management structures.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Conservation Seminars series.

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