Conservation as It Is: Illicit Resource Use in a Wildlife Reserve in India
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- Robbins, P., McSweeney, K., Chhangani, A.K. et al. Hum Ecol (2009) 37: 559. doi:10.1007/s10745-009-9233-6
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While wildlife conservation efforts have become increasingly aggressive around the world, illicit use of resources in conservation areas has not subsided, raising questions about the ecological character of noncompliance activities. This paper reviews the results of research conducted amongst foresters and households living adjacent to a wildlife sanctuary in India in a period following a ban of human use activities. Using a formal survey supplemented by interviews and participant observation, the research sought to determine the intensity of illicit use, the demographics of resource users, and the attitudes of rulebreakers. The results suggest that noncompliance with conservation restrictions is nearly universal, that forest use is highly specialized, that available village resource assets do little to offset forest use, and that rule-breakers prefer current governance arrangements. These results paint a picture of deeply institutionalized forest use that suggests serious barriers to any simple enforcement solutions or governance reforms.