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Organising to Protect: Protecting Landscapes and Livelihoods in the Nicaraguan Hillsides

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Ravnborg, Helle Munk
Journal: Conservation and Society
Volume: 6
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3243
Sector: Social Organization
Land Tenure & Use
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): landscape change
political economy
resource management
protected areas
Abstract: "Social science literature on protected areas (PAs) has hitherto focused mostly upon how PAs have been designated at the expense of the interests of people living in and around the PA and how this has often resulted in conflict. However, there is a growing recognition that this dichotomised perception does not always adequately capture what is taking place in relation to PA establishment and management. Internal as well as external interests, viz-a-viz PA establishment and management are much more diverse and complex, and have to be understood in a wider context of interests and strategies not solely related to issues of conservation. This article reports a case from Nicaragua of small scale farmers struggling to have their area, Miraflor, declared a PA. Adopting a political ecology perspective, the article explores the underlying motives for this apparent paradox of farmers wanting to have their land recognised as a PA and thus accepting the potential restrictions on land use this entails. This article analyses how the formulation of the management plan for Miraflor as a PA, became the 'arena' for negotiation and alliance building between different segments of competing land users in Miraflor ranging from the virtually landless poor to the landed small scale farmers to the resourceful, largely absentee landowners; and how national and international external institutions-knowingly or not-were drawn into and took part in this negotiation. Hence, this article serves to illustrate the importance of recognising that this key instrument in PA management-the management plan-is much more than a technical document building on sound ecological principles. The issue at stake is not only protecting a landscape, but, perhaps more importantly, protecting livelihoods."

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