Abstract: A commonly held belief is that if people can benefit financially from enterprises that depend on nearby forests, reefs, and other natural habitats, then they will take action to conserve and sustainably use them. The Biodiversity Conservation Network brought together conservation and development organizations and local communities to systematically test this hypothesis across 39 conservation project sites in Asia and the Pacific. Each project implemented one or more community‐based enterprises such as setting up an ecotourism lodge, distilling essential oils from wild plant roots, producing jams and jellies from forest fruits, harvesting timber, or collecting marine samples to test for pharmaceutical compounds. Each project team collected the biological, enterprise, and social data necessary to test the network's hypothesis. We present the results of this test. We found that a community‐based enterprise strategy can lead to conservation, but only under limited conditions and never on its own. We summarize the specific conditions under which an enterprise strategy will and will not work in a decision chart that can be used by project managers to determine whether this strategy might make sense at their site. We also found that an enterprise strategy can be subsidized and still create a net gain that pays for conservation. Based on our experiences, we recommend developing “learning portfolios” that combine action and research to test other conservation strategies.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Dec 14, 2001
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