South-South exchanges enhance resource management and biodiversity conservation at various scales
Additional Document Info
International conservation organisations have invested considerable resources in fostering biodiversity conservation programs in the humid tropics, the most biologically diverse areas on earth. Recent approaches to conservation have centered on integrated conservation and development projects and participatory resource management programs, co-managed between governments and local communities. But these programs have had only mixed success and often suffer from insufficient quantity or quality of participation by local communities. We pose that participatory resource management is more likely to succeed when community members, 1) gain a global perspective on how their social, economic and environmental conditions compare with peer communities in other similar areas of the world, and thus better understand issues of relative scarcity and the benefits of sustainable resource management, and 2) engage as decision-makers at every stage of the conservation process up to reflective program evaluation. This paper examines the role of South-South exchanges as a tool to achieve these intermediate goals that ultimately foster more effective and participatory conservation and support sustainable local livelihoods. The data are extracted from the initiatives of the authors in two different environments - marine and coastal communities in Central America and the Caribbean, and lowland rainforest communities in the western Amazon of South America. We conclude that the exchanges are effective ways to build stakeholder comprehension about, and meaningful engagement in, resource management. South-South exchanges may also help build multi-local coalitions from various remote areas that together support biodiversity conservation at regional and global scales.