, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 381-397

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Integrated Conservation and Development Projects and Local Perceptions of Conservation in Madagascar

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This paper explores local perceptions of internationally financed conservation and development projects in Madagascar and the success of these projects at influencing perceptions. Interviews, surveys, and focus group sessions were conducted in the peripheral zones of three Malagasy national parks: Ranomafana, Andohahela, and Masoala. Relevant questions explored community demographics, socioeconomic status, and local perceptions of the parks. The principal finding is that while a majority of people living in the peripheral zones do find conservation a valuable goal, they see it as a luxury they cannot afford. Despite their efforts and innovation, conservation and development projects have had a minimal impact on socioeconomic or associational life in the Ranomafana and Andohahela peripheral zones, and a significant but modest impact in the Masoala peripheral zone, by providing economic alternatives to destructive resource use. As a result, they are limited in their success at promoting conservation outcomes.