Center for Environmental Policy and Administration

Reinventing a Square Wheel: A Critique of a Resurgent ‘Protection Paradigm’ in International Biodiversity Conservation

Author:Steven Brechin with P. Wilshusen, C. Fortwangler, and P.C. West
Date: 2006
Publication:in Jules Pretty, editor, Environment: Key Issues for the Twenty-first Century Volume 2. CA: Sage Publication (reprinted from 2002 article)

This article presents a critical review of recent writings that argue that people-oriented approaches to conservation have largely failed to achieve their main goal--the protection of biological diversity. Based on an analysis of this problem, authors of these works conclude that biodiversity conservation initiatives should place renewed emphasis on authoritarian protection of national parks and other protected areas to safeguard critically threatened habitats worldwide. We examine five core themes in these writings. We conclude that, while many of their findings regarding shortcomings of current people-oriented approaches are well grounded, the overall arguments are incomplete because they largely ignore key aspects of social and political processes that shape how conservation interventions happen in specific contexts. As a result, recommendations linked to the renewed protectionist argument most likely will not provide long-term protection of biodiversity.
Center for Environmental Policy and Administration
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 12/01/2010 08:44:57