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Conservation-induced Displacement: A Comparative Study of Two Indian Protected Areas

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Kabra, Asmita
Journal: Conservation and Society
Volume: 7
Page(s): 249-267
Date: 2009
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/6089
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): conservation
displacement
livelihoods
Adivasi (Indian People)
Abstract: "Attempts at ‘preservation via displacement’ are an extreme manifestation of the ‘fortress’ or an exclusionary conservation paradigm, support for which has increased lately due to escalating conservation threats. While the policies and processes emanating from this paradigm have produced positive conservation outcomes for some Protected Areas, livelihood outcomes for the displaced people have seldom been as positive. This article examines whether the impoverishment risks arising from conservation-induced displacement tend to vary with the degree of marginalisation of the displaced community. In this light, this article examines in detail the impact on livelihood of conservation-induced displacement in two Protected Areas (PAs) of India. The article posits that understanding the dynamic livelihood context of displaced communities, especially the ecological base of their livelihoods, is critical to any assessment of their pre- and post-displacement livelihood strategies and livelihood outcomes (such as income, poverty, food security and health). A variety of livelihood parameters, including compensation received, consumption flows, agricultural production, monetary income, food security, headcount ratio of poverty and overall poverty indices have been studied, to understand the extent to which key livelihood risks arising out of displacement are addressed by the rehabilitation package and process in the two PAs. The Sahariya is a forest-dependent Adivasi community living in and around the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in the semi-arid tropical region of Madhya Pradesh. The Sahariya Adivasis of the Kuno Sanctuary were a socially, politically and economically marginalised community, whose lives and livelihoods were intricately linked to their ecological base. We found that inadequate attention was paid to this factor while designing and implementing a suitable rehabilitation package for the 1650 Sahariya households displaced from this PA. As a result, their material condition deteriorated after displacement, due to loss of livelihood diversification opportunities and alienation from their natural resource base. Displacement thus resulted in rapid proletarianisation and pauperisation of these households, and their ‘integration’ into the national ‘mainstream’ occurred at highly disadvantageous terms. The 430 odd households displaced from the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats (a biodiversity hotspot in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka) consisted of relatively less marginal."

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