Ivan Scales. 2014. Conservation and Environmental Management in Madagascar. Routledge, London and New York

The future of conservation and development in Madagascar: time for a new paradigm?

Ivan R. Scales

Abstract


The history of conservation policy and practice in Madagascar over the last 30 years shows that the Malagasy government, donors and non - governmental organisations (NGOs) have not been short of bold solutions, with ambitious attempts to involve local communities in resource management as well as expand protected areas. While there have been notable achievements, continued threats to the island’s flora and fauna, as well as the negative impacts that conservation policy has often had on rural livelihoods, show that there is still much to be done. So what are the lessons from the past and the challenges ahead? In this paper I provide a broad overview of recent research in the social sciences on conservation and development in Madagascar. I argue that conservation science and policy have often been based on overly simplistic understandings of human-environment interactions and sometimes even plain myths. This has contributed to a narrow policy vision, with important issues and ecosystems receiving less attention. Furthermore, conservation policy continues to be based on a highly uneven distribution of costs and benefits. In order to address these limitations, research and policy must do more to deal with differences in perceptions, priorities and power and be will­ing to embrace trade - offs between various conservation and development goals.

 

Résumé

L’histoire de la politique et la pratique de la protection de la nature à Madagascar au cours des 30 dernières années montre que le gouvernement malgache, les donateurs, et les organisations non - gouvernementales (ONG) n’ont pas manqué de grandes solutions. Cela inclut l’implication des communautés locales dans la gestion des ressources naturelles ainsi que l’expansion des aires protégées. Malgré des réussites notables, il reste beaucoup à faire car la biodiversité continue d’être menacée et les politiques adoptées ont souvent eu des impacts négatifs sur les moyens d’existence des ménages ruraux. Quelles sont les leçons à tirer du passé et les défis à relever pour le futur ? Au cours des deux dernières années, j’ai eu le privilège d’être le rédacteur et coordinateur d’une publication sur la ‘Conservation et la Gestion de l’Environnement à Madagascar’ (Routledge, Londres). Je me propose de résumer ici les thèmes, les enjeux et les débats qui ont émergé de cette publication. Mon argument principal est que la science et la politique de la conservation à Madagascar ont souvent été basées sur une conception étroite des interactions entre l’homme et l’environnement, en particulier sur les facteurs sociaux, politiques et économiques de l’utilisation des ressources naturelles et la dégradation de l’environnement. Les histoires de crise jalonnent le discours environnemental de Madagascar dans lequel dominent les problématiques. Le leitmotiv le plus commun, qui est aussi le plus problématique, porte sur l’idée que le déboisement de l’île a été de 90%. Ce ‘fait’ est souvent énoncé dans la littérature académique et généralement repris les organisations de conservation de la nature afin de montrer l’urgence du pro­blème de la dégradation de l’environnement. En conséquence les zones herbeuses de l’île sont tout simplement perçues comme des paysages dégradés. Un autre leitmotiv concerne la culture sur brûlis qui est imputée à la pauvreté et une ignorance de ‘meilleures’ pratiques. Ces formules galvaudées ont contribué à une politique aux perspectives restreintes dans laquelle certaines problématiques et des écosystèmes importants ne reçoivent pas les considérations qu’ils méritent. Elles ont également contribué à établir des ‘forteresses de la conservation’ qui sont essentiellement fondées sur l’exclusion des paysans malgaches des zones protégées avec son lot de conséquences sur les moyens d’existence des populations rurales. Malgré les efforts déployés pour impliquer les communautés rurales dans la gestion des ressources naturelles, la politique continue d’aboutir à une répartition inégale des coûts et des avantages. Pour trouver une solution, la recherche et les politiques doivent adopter un nouveau paradigme qui : i) s’éloigne des récits et des mythes problématiques ; ii) reconnaisse les différences dans les perceptions et les priorités des divers acteurs ; iii) adopte l’arbitrage entre les différents objectifs de conservation et de développement ; et iv) englobe un ensemble plus diversifié de voix et d’opinions.

 


Keywords


conservation; development; environmental narratives; priority setting

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mcd.v9i1.2

Madag. conserv. dev.
ISSN: 1662-2510