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Some things never change

Richard Conniff has a worthwhile post over at Yale e360. You should read the whole thing, but here is the teaser:

Recent studies in Asia and Australia found that community-managed areas can sometimes do better than traditional parks at preserving habitat and biodiversity. When it comes to conservation, maybe local people are not the problem, but the solution.

Yes. Absolutely. It’s an important message, one worth repeating. But I’m worried. Haven’t we been making this same argument for at least 20 years? I know I have. Not to make great claims for insight, but check out the last line of The Myth of Wild Africa, which Tom McShane and I published in 1992 and was in large part about the tensions between rural communities and protected areas:

[Africans] have been labelled as the problem. They are in fact the solution.

Lots of other peeople, in particular Katrina Brandon and Kent Redford in their book Parks in Peril, covered the same ground even earlier. Coniff is not writing about Africa, and he may or may not know about our book. It’s irrelevant. The troubling fact is the idea is still condidered newsworthy enough to merit a prominent blog by a notable author. I guess it is necessary, but I had hoped we were past this point and deep into conversation about real change. Sadly, no.

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