Conservation Action 5.3: Linking Conservation and Livelihoods
Livelihoods of indigenous people and other communities living in and around IBAs is often intrinsically linked to the maintenance and sustainable use of renewable natural resources including biodiversity. This offers an opportunity to link biodiversity conservation to social and economic development at local level.
Most IBAs are either impacted on or looked after by local people who often, in different ways, represent both the cause of and the solution to biodiversity loss. Supporting local practices favourable to conservation as well as influencing change of local unsustainable development models is often critical in advancing site and biodiversity conservation.
Engaging with Local Communities
There are successful examples of initiatives that have achieved conservation of an IBA and its biodiversity through working together with local communities at site level. This has also contributed to the enhancement of local livelihoods:
build ongoing relationship with local communities through supporting local “champions” of conservation identified from within the community;
support the traditional systems that allow limited and sustainable use of biodiversity;
develop community based projects for the development of alternative income generating activities with a low impact on biodiversity;
introduce techniques that improve efficiency and reduce impact on natural resources;
develop integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs);
establish participatory management of IBAs.
Critical Elements & Common Problems
It is most often the long term engagement with local communities and the building of a participatory and equal relationship that bear the greatest results, both for people and biodiversity. On the other hand there are also many unsuccessful cases of badly designed “integrated conservation and development projects” that ended up altering the local social balances and dynamics in a way that do not enhance the local livelihoods or even accelerate the negative impact on natural resources and biodiversity. The most common problems arise from:
not agreeing project objectives with the local stakeholders;
failing to engage, empower and grow capacity and build ownership;
raising unrealistic expectations in local communities that lead to disappointment, misunderstanding and tensions;
injecting disproportionate financial resources in the short term, rather than supporting a more gradual development over time;
lack of attention to the long term planning and development of alternative income generating activities which are not self-sustainable in the long run.
Partnerships between BirdLife organisations and institutions/NGOs more directly promoting sustainable development and reduction of poverty can achieve more effective conservation through development by the sharing of complementary skills in delivering as well as monitoring of socio-economic impact.
- Conserving biodiversity, improving livelihoods - BirdLife report. (PDF, 1.5mb)
- Livelihoods and the environment at Important Bird Areas: Listening to local voices - BirdLife report (PDF, 1.4mb).
Project guidelines produced under 'Small Grants for Site Support Groups' supported by the DGIS/TMF-BirdLife funding scheme:
- Guidelines on Stakeholder analysis (PDF, 60kb)
- The Logical Framework Approach, a Project Design and Analysis Tool (PDF, 155kb)
- Guidelines for Site Support Group Institutional Analysis (PDF, 50kb)
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