Partnerships for tropical conservation

Sonja Vermeulena1 and Douglas Sheil c1

a1 International Institute for Environment and Development, 3 Endsleigh Street, London, WC1H 0DD, UK.


Achieving effective conservation in the tropics is a global concern but implicates local people. Despite considerable rhetoric about local participation the vast majority of conservation initiatives continue to be devised and controlled by a small group of powerful, external voices. What is widely overlooked is that local people often have positive conservation goals and preferences. These overlap with global values and create a strong precedent for practice, providing the basis for strategic alliances with conservation agencies. Local people can be part of a solution, rather than of the problem, if they are given the opportunity. While as yet unfamiliar to many conservationists, partnerships with local people are working in other natural resource sectors (water, commercial forestry). Strong partnerships entail shared decision making, shared risks and a balance of rights and responsibilities between external conservation agencies and local interest groups. Partnerships are no panacea, but a real commitment to partnership offers conservation outcomes that are more ethical and often more practicable than current models.

(Received January 10 2006)

(Reviewed April 27 2006)

(Accepted August 03 2006)


c1 Center for International Forestry Research, P.O. Box 6596, JKPWB, Jakarta 10065, Indonesia. E-mail d.sheil@cgiar.org