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Vicuña Conservation and Poverty Alleviation? Andean Communities and International Fibre Markets

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Lichtenstein, Gabriela
Journal: International Journal of the Commons
Volume: 4
Page(s): 100–121
Date: 2010
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5910
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Social Organization
Region: South America
Subject(s): common pool resources
poverty alleviation
collective action
Abstract: "Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) fibre is produced by extremely low-income communities that inhabit the harsh environment of the Andes in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia. At the other end of the social scale, affluent consumers are willing to pay high prices for vicuna-made accessories and clothes. Vicuña management projects follow the logic of community-based wildlife management. The rationale for seeking to conserve vicuñas through sustainable use is that commercial utilization of the fibre (obtained from live-shorn animals) will generate sufficient economic benefits to outweigh the costs of conservation, and contribute to community development and poverty alleviation. However, although conservation efforts have been extremely successful with vicuñas having recovered from the brink of extinction, the socio-economic achievements have thus far proved modest. This paper explores multiple-objective projects that address vicuña conservation and poverty alleviation in Andean countries. In doing so, it analyses the tensions that exist between these objectives, as well as the factors that limit a more equitable distribution of benefits among stakeholders. Examples are drawn from vicuna management under common-property in Peru and Bolivia, and vicuna captive management under private property in Argentina. These case studies enable us to illustrate the complex relationship between local communities and the global market, and the importance of community enterprises and supportive government policy in managing a common pool resource."

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