The forgotten resource. Journal MCD.

The forgotten resource: Community perspectives on conservation and well-being in Zahamena National Park, Madagascar

Cara M. Raboanarielina

Abstract


This research examines local perceptions of social well-being in two forest-dependent communities near Zahamena National Park (ZNP), Madagascar. Key informant interviews were conducted to observe how local context, including community and ecological factors, influenced perceptions of social well-being. Overall, residents expressed a broad sense of decreased well-being as local forest resource access changed following the creation of ZNP. While one community was more dependent on forest and non-timber forest products for their livelihood, both communities believed lack of access to the park and its resources negatively affected local social well-being. Further, both communities felt ZNP provided few benefits to local residents. In addition, informants alluded to a sense of distrust of conservation managers and believed their needs and concerns were neither heard nor addressed by current conservation programs. Such data confirm people living in rural communities adjacent to protected areas have limited impact on conservation policies and initiatives on the island. Implications of this research suggest a reassessment of institutional conservation policy and practices to reflect locally held social traditions and community beliefs about conservation.

 

Résumé

Cette étude examine les perceptions locales de la qualité de vie dans deux communautés dépendantes de la forêt et vivant à proximité du Parc National de Zahamena à Madagascar. Des entretiens ont été menés pour analyser comment le contexte local, tant au niveau des facteurs communautaires qu’écologiques, a influencé les perceptions portant sur la qualité de vie. En général, les résidents ont constaté une baisse de leur qualité de vie depuis la création du Parc à cause du changement d'accès aux ressources forestières locales. Une des communautés dépendait des produits forestiers ligneux et non ligneux pour sa subsistance et une autre communauté a estimé que le fait de ne pouvoir accéder au Parc et à ses ressources avait détérioré son niveau de vie. En outre, les deux communautés ont considéré que le Parc avait fourni peu d’avantages aux résidents. Les personnes interviewées ont également exprimé une certaine méfiance à l’égard des gestionnaires du programme de conservation qui, selon elles, n’ont répondu ni à leurs besoins ni à leurs préoccupations. Ces résultats confirment que les communautés rurales vivant à proximité des aires protégées ont une influence limitée sur la politique et les initiatives de conservation à Madagascar. Cette recherche suggère que la politique de conservation doit être réévaluée et qu’il y a lieu de rechercher de nouvelles pratiques permettant d’intégrer les traditions sociales locales et les croyances communautaires dans les actions de conservation.


Keywords


community; social impacts of conservation; well-being perception; community interactional approach; political ecology; Madagascar; communauté; impacts sociaux de la conservation; qualité de vie; interaction communautaire; politique écologique; Madagascar

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mcd.v7i2S.3

Madag. conserv. dev.
ISSN: 1662-2510