Author: Mahesh Rangarajan
Publisher: Orient Longman
ISBN/UPC (if available): 978-81-250-1980-0
This tract traces the roots of the very ideology of conservation in India and discusses its historical and conceptual basis. It argues for a need to integrate resident people in the project of conservation.
The ideology of conservation in India today faces a crisis. Nature lovers, photographers, tourists continue to flock to the National Parks. Forest officials congratulate themselves on the rapid population increase of many threatened species. But all is not well. Smugglers and poachers, supported by politicians and business interests, and sheltered by local communities, raid the protected forests for valuable exports, killing elephants for their tusks and tigers for their skins. Alienated resident communities around the parks, deprived of their access to forest resources, and hostile to conservation, regularly clash with forest officials and police. Tigers and elephants confined within constricted areas periodically attack and kill villagers.
Inspired by exclusionist thinking, Indian foresters have sought to exclude local people from Protected Areas, deny them use rights in forests, seeking to preserve the forest only for animals. To them, the rights of local communities appear opposed to the interests of conservation, and their exclusion necessary for successful policy.
The tract provides a powerful critique of this approach, and argues for a need to integrate resident people in the project of conservation. Only through a participatory policy can local hostility be overcome, and local knowledge and resources mobilized. Local people have to see the forests as their forests and conservation as their project.
VASANT SABERWAL is a former research associate at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore. His research interests are in ecology and environmental politics. He is the author of Pastoral Politics: Shepherds, Bureaucrats and Conservation in the Western Himalayas.
MAHESH RANGARAJAN is a former Fellow of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, and a researcher and commentator on ecology and political affairs in print and on television. He is the author of Fencing the Forest and editor of the Oxford Anthology of Indian Wildlife.
ASHISH KOTHARI is a founder member of Kalpavriksh, a 20-year old environmental action group, and a former Lecturer in Environmental Studies at the Indian Institute of Public Administration. He has written or edited over ten books, and written more than hundred articles on various environment and development issues.