ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Myth of Failing Fences

Conservation can be achieved through the judicious and context-specifi c use of protectionist and inclusionary approaches either in seclusion or conjunction. A response to Nitin Rai, "Green Grabbing in the Name of the Tiger" (EPW, 20 October 2012).

Current conservation practice is not limited to areas of pristine wilderness; it embraces the needs of communities living within and at the fringes of forests. Some have associated this shift in conservation focus to a failure of the “protectionist” paradigm and the decreasing role of protected areas in effectively conserving biodiversity. “The case for inviolate areas is weakening by the day”, claims Nitin Rai (2012), forming one amongst this group, as he comments on the article by Karanth and Karanth (EPW, 22 September 2012). The author uses this argument to question the protectionist conservation strategies that he alleges are attempts to “grab” land in the name of endangered species (ibid). Through his narrative, however, there emerges a weak, unsupported argument for the failure of conservation fences.

The emergence of community-based conservation as a paradigm for saving species from extinction is no new deve­lopment. However, the corollary – that inclusive approaches to conservation are eroding the utility of protectionist methods – is fallacious (Hutton et al 2005). Fencing for conservation saw resurgence in the late 1990s (ibid), falsifying claims of it being a buried paradigm (Rai 2012). Indeed, this development occurred but a few years after the emergence of inclusive approaches to conservation (Hutton et al 2005). In fact, conservation biologists today are working towards refining existing methods of design, demarcation and prioritisation of reserves for biodiversity protection (Margules and Pressey 2000; Moilanen et al 2009).

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