Principles of Ecosystem Stewardship

pp 129-147

Conservation, Community, and Livelihoods: Sustaining, Renewing, and Adapting Cultural Connections to the Land

  • Fikret BerkesAffiliated withNatural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba
  • , Gary P. KofinasAffiliated withSchool of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
  • , F. Stuart ChapinIIIAffiliated withInstitute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Since most of the world’s biodiversity is not in protected areas but on lands used by people, conserving species and ecosystems depends on our understanding of social systems and their interactions with ecological systems. Involving people in conservation requires paying attention to livelihoods and creating a local stake for conservation. It also requires maintaining cultural connections to the land and at times restoring and cultivating new connections. This chapter addresses human-wildlife-land interactions across a range of hinterland ecosystems, from relatively undisturbed “wildlands" to more intensively manipulated rural agricultural areas where local communities are an integral component of the landscape. These regions commonly comprise unique ecosystems that are in many cases important hotspots of global biodiversity. Here we examine three case studies – Ojibwa and Cree use of boreal forest biodiversity, the community-based programs for elephant conservation in sub-Saharan Africa, and Gwich’in engagement in international management of the Porcupine Caribou Herd in Arctic North America. The three cases highlight the relationship between conservation and community livelihoods to illustrate strategies that communities have used and the challenges they face to sustain land, resources, and their own well-being.