Striking a Balance

Community Conservation isn’t an Oxymoron
by Anna Flam -- November 18th, 2013

Taking full advantage of Duke’s central location I’ve spent the last week buzzing around from Asheville to DC. Now the end of semester crunch is in full swing, with all grad students competitively tallying the myriad presentations, group projects, papers, and exams happening over the next week and a half. I’ve got a capacity development presentation, a water debate, big cats country profiles, soo many papers, and that pesky master’s project… what about you?


Continuing my love affair with coffee and my laptop.

Continuing my love affair with coffee and my laptop.


Last week, I escaped the chaos for the day to head up to the WWF Fuller Symposium in DC. This year’s topic was “The Power of Communities to Protect the Planet”. I’m devoted to the idea of helping both people and nature in development. Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) cover a range of interventions that help both people and the environment. Ecotourism is one popular example,  where income helps development and incentivizes conservation — if there isn’t any wildlife no one is going to pay for a trip.


So many great ideas...

So many great ideas…


However, ICDPs are frequently derided as failing to meet either goal of community development or conservation. Myself, and others, think ICDPs were expected to be a silver bullet for conservation, and unfortunately when initial trials faltered the baby was thrown out with the bathwater.


At Fuller I got to spend a whole day hearing from various leaders in the community-based conservation and development movement (and totally geek out over Philippe Cousteau). Hearing from conservation leaders helped reassure me that with a lot of hard work ICDPs can flourish.   WWF will be uploading videos of the speakers onto their YouTube  channel shortly, and I’ll share a few of my favorite talks on here once they’re uploaded.


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