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Post Conflict Recovery And Management Of Protected Areas

Description: 

Manas National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Assam province of Northeast India and is world renowned for its outstanding natural beauty and presence of a rich biodiversity that includes several endemic, rare and threatened wild animal species that are found nowhere else in the world. The park also witnessed more than 15 years of armed conflict that led to massive destruction of the Park infrastructure and decimation of wildlife population in recent history. The post-conflict recovery of the Park was initiated in the year 2003 when the first indigenous local government was elected into power and a concerted effort was made by various actors such as the state, civil society and community based organizations. We argue that Protected Areas that have experienced a long period of insurgency require a shared governance model wherein the local community, especially the village youth and former poachers/armed groups need to be mainstreamed and brought into protecting the natural resource in the vicinity of their areas. This is required so as to gradually build up the confidence of the regular park staff towards surveillance activities and also provide an alternative source of livelihood to communities that have recently witnessed a civil strife and hence would require a period of hand holding. Manas adopted a unique model of creating frontline personnel of local village youth who were engaged in patrolling duties along with the regular Park Staff. They were also trained and empowered to undertake simple wildlife monitoring techniques that led to a general assessment of the population status especially of characteristic species such as tigers and elephants. The research institutions and civil society organizations pitched in with science-based wildlife management techniques such as reintroduction of flagship species (Rhino and swamp deer) and also became involved in monitoring the recovery of such species. The Park infrastructure was gradually revived and within a short span of ten years the population of wild animals were revived due to the protection accorded. Ecotourism initiatives as part of alternative livelihood support were offered to local youth and local entrepreneurship was encouraged. Manas regained its world heritage site status in 2011 and has therefore become a world’s leading example on a governance model for Protected Areas in regions of armed conflicts.

Problem, challenge or context: 

The best practise is relevance to NBSAP revision as it further breaks down the aspect of community management and governance by govt to customise the same for Protected Areas with a prolonged history of wars or violent conflict. 
Governance refers to the interactions among structures, processes, and traditions that determine direction, how power is exercised, and how the views of citizens or stakeholders are incorporated into decision-making. Governance is now recognized as a critical aspect of effective conservation and is a prominent part of the Convention on Biological Diversity's work program on protected areas (Graham et.al., 2003; Dearden et.al., 2005) . 
Governance is a major factor affecting the abilities of Protected Areas to achieve their goals with reference to management, participation, equity and benefit sharing. 
Protected Area (PA) governance continues to evolve and must address and include elements of specific political ecology closely linked to the geography and political economy of natural resources (Billon,2001). Improved governance can follow multiple pathways and the challenge is to understand the particular context of the PA systems, globally, nationally, and locally and the various pathways and their advantages and disadvantages (Dearden et.al., 2005). 
This improved governance type is especially relevant in countries dealing with the aftermath of violent conflict and crisis as well as during transitions where governments’ immediate priorities focus on regaining control of security and the post-conflict recovery process, including re-establishing core government functions (as in case of PA management) and, in the best cases, supporting inclusive and fair political and developmental processes. For new or recovering governments to assume ownership and control of the peace and state-building process and to be able to design and implement policies across a broad spectrum of areas therefore requires the restoration of core government functions at the earliest.

Specific elements of components: 

The best practise addresses the primary challenge of restoration of governance by govt in a landscape where there has been complete erosion of law and order implementation due to a prolonged history of lawlessness coupled with acts of violent conflict against state actors.


The action taken:


  1. In case of Manas National Park, the first challenge of lack of recent institutional memory for governance was overcome by first obtaining political will when the general elections were conducted in the region and a local party came into power.
  2. The second challenge of persuading governance by government (redeployment of forest frontline staff) was gradually negotiated by opting for a shared governance model wherein local community youth were engaged for co-patrolling of the Park.
  3. Local poachers and erstwhile hunters were motivated to surrender arms and mainstreamed into joining the forest patrolling drive.
  4. Local communities were trained, funded and encouraged to set up eco-tourism units so as to promote tourism and bring an economic incentive towards conservation in the area.
  5. Reputed international and national NGOs were roped in to carry out capacity building of the local CBOs and also monitor such initiatives.
  6. Conservation measures that promoted in-situ (for example reintroduction of locally extinct species; rebuilding park infrastructure) and ex-situ (for example incentivising community conservation; ecotourism) means were systematically carried out which were then lauded by the international community (Manas was reinstated as a heritage site in 2011) that helped in instilling local ownership and pride.
Key lessons learned: 
  1. Natural resource management in Protected Areas in the region of violent conflict may require locally adapted governance solutions.
  2. Governance by govt needs to suitably adapt and recognise shared governance through a systematic continuum of conflict management strategies (Moore, 2003) especially in areas with past history of violent conflict / in transitions with weak institutional structures.
  3. Unique models of community based conservation require political will and support to become a success.
Impacts and outcomes: 
  1. In case of Manas National Park, the first challenge of lack of recent institutional memory for governance was overcome by first obtaining political will when the general elections were conducted in the region and a local party came into power.
  2. The second challenge of persuading governance by government (redeployment of forest frontline staff) was gradually negotiated by opting for a shared governance model wherein local community youth were engaged for co-patrolling of the Park.
  3. Local poachers and erstwhile hunters were motivated to surrender arms and mainstreamed into joining the forest patrolling drive.
  4. Local communities were trained, funded and encouraged to set up eco-tourism units so as to promote tourism and bring an economic incentive towards conservation in the area.
  5. Reputed international and national NGOs were roped in to carry out capacity building of the local CBOs and also monitor such initiatives.
  6. Conservation measures that promoted in-situ (for example reintroduction of locally extinct species; rebuilding park infrastructure) and ex-situ (for example incentivising community conservation; ecotourism) means were systematically carried out which were then lauded by the international community (Manas was reinstated as a heritage site in 2011) that helped in instilling local ownership and pride.
Contact details: 
Sonali Ghosh
Region: 
Country: 
Language: 
English
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