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Debating Conservation as if Reality Matters

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Karanth, K. Ullas
Journal: Conservation & Society
Volume: 1
Date: 2003
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3277
Sector: Social Organization
General & Multiple Resources
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): conservation--case studies
protected areas
Abstract: "Madhusudan and Shankar Raman provide a cogent overview of the main issues in the ongoing academic debate between proponents of two conflicting paradigms that concern conservation efforts in India: preservation versus sustainable use of biodiversity. Because I tend to agree with the authors on many of these issues, these do not bear repetition in a brief response. Therefore, I restrict myself to points on which I hold somewhat different views. The authors portrayal of Indias nature reserves as cauldrons of conflict with a bleak future is somewhat misleading. India as a whole has always been a cauldron of conflict between classes, castes, communities and religions for a variety of social and political reasons. Often such conflicts extend to issues of control and use of natural resources including land, water, fisheries, pastures, forest products, and, over a tiny fraction of less than 1 per cent of the land, to a few effectively protected nature reserves. Such conflicts are not new, and have occurred over centuries, and will go on regardless of academic debates over conservation paradigm shifts. I would argue that given the severe mismatch between the size of India's natural resource base and the huge number of claimants for its use, the levels of conflict around our protected areas is relatively low, compared to any other country with comparable ecological and social challenges."

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