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Community Perspectives on Conservation, Forest Dependency, and Well-being in Madagascar

The social well-being of forest-dependent communities in Madagascar is threatened by the loss of access to forests and national parks as a result of efforts designed to preserve the island's biodiversity.

This project examines how local access loss resulting from the creation of protected areas affects the social well-being of forest-dependent communities. Focus is placed on two communities proximate to Zahamena National Park (ZNP), which prohibited local access in 2001. A mixed-methods approach, combining multiple qualitative and quantitative research methods, is used. Data are drawn from key informant interviews and facilitated group discussions with local residents, former park staff, and key governmental and non-governmental stakeholders involved in park management, and a household survey with ZNP residents. Additionally, discourse analysis of key environmental legislation evaluates the political and institutional context of protected area management in Madagascar broadly. Overall, the main goal of this project is to examine the prevailing institutional context and local indigenous beliefs about conservation in Madagascar and explore the potential for corroboration. Study findings will inform protected area management policy and implementation in Madagascar and other countries promoting bioreserves by aligning the dominant institutional conservation discourse to reflect locally-held social traditions and beliefs about conservation.

Raboanarielina, Luloff, Finley