In 2003 at the World Parks Congress the delegates were informed that the goal set at the previous Congress, of setting aside 10% of the land surface of the planet, had been achieved. The whole auditorium (and it was a plenary session) burst into applause. The reaction is strange for two reasons. Although we did not realize it at the time it is quite likely that the goal had already been achieved before it was set, it is just that the records of what was protected were inaccurate and had not been kept up to date. Now the World Database of Protected Areas is much more reliable. Second, and this is what struck me at the time, the overwhelming reaction was positive and yet there was no way of knowing what the social consequences of these protected areas had actually been. My previous research at Mkomazi had shown that in fact the establishment of protected areas can have quite serious negative repercussions for local groups. With time I was to learn how stark an example that provides. That learning process was informed by the following papers on the social impacts of protected areas.
My contributions to this debate have been twofold. First I have published a number of review pieces based on literature surveys and second I have encouraged others rigorously to examine the social consequences of protected areas’ establishment.
With Jim Igoe I have undertaken a large-scale survey of eviction globally. It is visible in this paper which is available freely online. The main impression I gleaned from this paper is that physical eviction is important, but it must not distract from the more important issue of economic displacement which is likely to be a more prevalent issue for many people:
Brockington, D. and Igoe, J. 2006. ‘Eviction for Conservation. A Global Overview.’ Conservation and Society 4 (3): 424-70 Link
Under Paige West’s leadership, Jim Igoe and I also contributed to this paper which was published in the Annual Review of Anthropology:
West, P., Igoe, J. and Brockington, D. 2006. ‘Parks and Peoples: The Social Impact of Protected Areas.’ Annual Review of Anthropology 35: 251-77 PDF
Paige and I also wrote a shorter version of the same research for Conservation Biology:
West, P. and Brockington, D. 2006. ‘An Anthropological Perspective on Some Unexpected Consequences of Protected Areas.’ Conservation Biology 20 (3): 609-616. PDF
With a number of colleagues I have explored the relationships between protected area growth and poverty at a national scale. That work is published here. We found no relationship, but looked pretty hard:
Upton, C., Ladle, R., Hulme, D., Jiang, T., Brockington, D. and Adams, W.M.2008. ‘Protected Areas, Poverty & Biodiversity: A National Scale Analysis.’ Oryx 42 (1): 19-25. PDF
With a number of colleagues I have also responded to research in Science suggesting that people were migrating towards protected areas:
Igoe, J., Brockington, D., Randall, S. and Scholfield, K.2008. Lessons to be learned about migration around protected areas. Science (E-Letter, 11 December 2008) Link.
With Kai Schmidt-Soltau I have written a paper about the issues and complexities of ‘voluntary displacement’:
Schmidt-Soltau, K., and Brockington, D. 2007 ‘Protected Areas and Resettlement: what scope for voluntary relocation?’World Development 35 (12): 2182-2202. PDF
Before that Kai and I also contributed to a debate in Oryx:
Brockington, D. and Schmidt-Soltau, K. 2004. ‘The social and environmental impacts of wilderness and development.’ Oryx 38: 1-3. PDF
Finally with Rupesh Bohomia I have written a brief article about protected areas in India based on Rupesh’ masters thesis:
Bhomia, R.K. and Brockington, D. 2006. ‘Conservation: pride or prejudice? An analysis of the Protected Areas of India.’Policy Matters 14: 142-154. Link