Evidence-based conservation: lessons from the Lower Mekong
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Evidence-based conservation: lessons from the Lower Mekong

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This presentation by Terry Sunderland from CIFOR shows what can be learned from the lower Mekong for evidence-based conservation by explaining the research that has been conducted there.

This presentation by Terry Sunderland from CIFOR shows what can be learned from the lower Mekong for evidence-based conservation by explaining the research that has been conducted there.

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  • 1. Evidence-based conservation: lessons from the Lower Mekong Terry Sunderland Tree cover transitions and investment in a multicolored economy CIFOR, Bogor 13th March 2013
  • 2. Background • • • • Considerable gap between science of conservation biology and implementation of biodiversity projects Science is often failing to inform conservation practice which remains more “experience-based” Main constraint is poor reporting at ground level and thus accessibility of evidence on effectiveness of differing interventions is limited Evidence-based approaches modelled on systematic reviews being applied in wide range of policy arenas, including conservation
  • 3. A response • • • “Losing less and winning more: Building capacity to go beyond the trade-offs between conservation and development in the Lower Mekong” (funded by MacArthur Foundation, 2006-2010) Project goal: “To enable organisations working on the ground in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam to achieve better biodiversity and human well-being outcomes of their projects” Evolved into more comprehensive systematic review of landscapescale integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs) in Lower Mekong
  • 4. Study region • The Lower Mekong – biodiversity hotspot of global significance • Major threats: habitat loss, infrastructure development, land grabbing, wildlife trade • Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam (15 sites): • Forested landscapes (> 10,000 ha) • History of conservation intervention in previous 7-10 years THINKING beyond the canopy
  • 5. Context • Difficulty justifying protectionist approaches alone • Inclusion of poverty alleviation strategies • Integrated Conservation and Development Project (ICDP) approach introduced in the 1980s • Integrated approaches focus on PA’s but in the context of the wider landscape (buffer zone) • Previous studies of these missed the “landscape” context • Very little critical analysis of ICDPs in the Lower Mekong • What strategies have contributed to the achievements of landscape scale integrated conservation and development projects in the countries of the Lower Mekong?
  • 6. Research • • • • • • Landscape trends and threats analysis ICDP comparison (multi-variate analysis, qualitative assessment of outcomes) = analysis of organisational strategies Governance and policy review Land cover change Potential for rewards mechanisms (PES, REDD+) “Best practice” for integrating conservation and development
  • 7. Threats analysis
  • 8. ICDP Comparison: what do projects actually do?
  • 9. Governance and policy review • Plethora of global, regional and national conventions, laws, regulations • On paper, extremely comprehensive • In practice, effectiveness limited by low capacity, low budgets and competing land claims
  • 10. Land cover change • Surprisingly, majority of protected areas experiencing low levels of deforestation and tree cover loss • HOWEVER, significant degradation outside of PA’s
  • 11. Potential for reward mechanisms (PES, REDD+) • • • • • • PES is seen as a “win-win” for conservation and development Strong legislative framework for PES (e.g. Vietnam) Implementation is complex and beneficiaries often unclear None of the sites surveyed have established PES schemes Thus potential for REDD+ is uncertain Much to learn from the past (e.g. ICDPs), especially conditionality
  • 12. Project implementation “best practice”
  • 13. The evidence base • • • • Projects are very sensitive to perceived evaluation Tendency for projects to over-report success Very little or no actual monitoring of any sort Trade-offs rather than win-win scenarios are more commonly experienced • The term “ICDP” has been applied far less; landscapes are now point of reference • Much to learn from ICDP-type initiatives for PES/REDD+, e.g. community engagement, policy processes • Shared learning very important to avoid repeated failures THINKING beyond the canopy
  • 14. Recommendations • Projects with clear and plausible goals and objectives from the start have better outcomes • Stakeholder participation and partnerships are critical • Projects must be implemented with a full understanding of policy processes • Provide alternative livelihoods and understand linkages • Greater integration at landscape scale • Longer-term time scales = better outcomes THINKING beyond the canopy
  • 15. yer and Hoang Minh-Ha Read more… and . ains for y Sunderland, T., J. Sayer & H. Minh-Ha. 2013. Evidence-based conservation: lessons from the Lower Mekong. Earthscan from Routledge, London ve d. er ed tility of the intervention. By bridging the gap e effective integrated conservation and s to apply the evidence-based approach to THINKING beyond the canopy