The Hunting of the Snark: Seeking Transcendence in the Indian Conservation Debate

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"In our article, 'Conservation as if Biological Diversity Matters', we attempted a brief overview of the Indian context of two globally-influential approaches to conservation: preservationism and sustainable use, which have seemingly attained the status of paradigms, spawning research programmes, policy documents and management action. We point out in our article that, against the backdrop of growing conflicts between people and parks, the Indian conservation scene, across its academic, activist and administrative domains, has witnessed a polarisation between these two approaches. In briefly assessing how the two approaches have fared with on-ground conservation, we observe that a debate on the utility of these approaches is hamstrung by a paucity of field data demonstrating their capacities to conserve fragile elements of biodiversity, or sustain their successes into the future. In the concluding paragraphs, we consider the way forward for conservation in a fraternity that is fractured over the ideology and implementation of conservation even as it stands together to bemoan the loss of biological diversity. Finally, we emphasise that, if we are at all serious about the survival needs of fragile species and ecosystems, it seems futile to embrace a single conservation maxim in a country as bewilderingly diverse as India, and we urge the adoption of situation-specific stances that to build on the respective strengths of the two approaches."
conservation, protected areas, parks, environmental policy