People, parks and poverty: Political ecology and biodiversity conservation
Action to conserve biodiversity, particularly through the creation of protected areas (PAs), is inherently political. Political ecology is a field of study that embraces the interactions between the way nature is understood and the politics and impacts of environmental action. This paper explores the political ecology of conservation, particularly the establishment of PAs. It discusses the implications of the idea of pristine nature, the social impacts of and the politics of PA establishment and the way the benefits and costs of PAs are allocated. It considers three key political issues in contemporary international conservation policy: the rights of indigenous people, the relationship between biodiversity conservation and the reduction of poverty, and the arguments of those advocating a return to conventional PAs that exclude people.