Reconciling biodiversity conservation goals with local needs and priorities is a major challenge, particularly in the tropics where levels of poverty are high, and livelihoods are strongly connected to land and natural resources.That's the reason why the idea of equity and justice is gaining strong credence and traction in conservation policies.
But these terms are poorly defined in policy, and there is a lack of understanding on how to implement just or equitable policies, which is why ESPA research is testing methods to understanding what justice is, and how to promote more just policies relevant to conservation practice.
Dr Neil Dawson and team have been testing these ideas through empirical, multidisciplinary research in the Nam Et-Phou Loeuy National Protected Area (NEPL) in northern Laos. NEPL is a mountainous tropical forest ecosystem of great biodiversity value, but also with high poverty levels. The NPA was established by the Lao Government in 1993 with support by international conservation organisations to conserve critical forest habitat and associated biodiversity, including, among 18 endangered species of large mammal present, one of the most important tiger populations in Indochina. The NPA is now run jointly by the Lao government and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The project team's policy papers,and the University of East Anglia project page, sum up perfectly the key findings from our work with partners including the WSC and the government.