Conservation Livelihood: A Concept of Integrating Nature Conservation and Livelihood

By Jayanta Kumar Sarma


“Conservation is a state of harmony between man and land”

– Aldo Leopold


1. Prelude


Nature conservation on principle pleads for protecting and nurturing natural resources, associated ecosystems and biodiversity with its value of physical quantity and parameters. On the other hand livelihood means making a living, it covers fulfilment of basic necessities of life; which incorporates security of food, shelter and clothing along with health and education.  The growing pressure of population on natural resources, emerging environmental degradation, environmental and manmade externalities pose threats to the livelihood of the larger section of the ‘Eco-system People’ (1) of the globe.

Therefore, along with the thought of Sustainable Development, concept of Sustainable Livelihood appeared. To define the concept of sustainable livelihood Chambers and Conway (1992) stated that “a livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.” This framework proposed the state of the natural, physical, human, social and financial assets and its capabilities are the fundamentals of sustaining livelihood in present and future context.

However, livelihood security and economic wellbeing also directly affected forestland use practices and biodiversity conservation (Burner et al, 2001; Geist and Lambin, 2002). Particularly,  the situation of livelihood of people living in the fringe villages of the Protected Areas having different dimension of stress and shocks which always pose threat to sustain livelihood. Livelihood and food security of fringe villagers of protected area is a question of ponder (Siebert S.F., Belsky J.M., 2002). There is a growing debate on livelihood security and conservation of wildlife, question arises about environmental goals of protected areas (PA) compatible with poverty alleviation goals, particularly in the context of developing countries (Adams et al., 2004). On the other hand there is a widespread focuses on conservation policy to avoid destabilization of way of life of the people, other way, better to contribute for elevation of human means for living through poverty alleviation (CBD, 2008). Therefore alternative paradigm of integrated conservation and development projects was evolved with focuses on establishing linkage between conservation and livelihood objectives (Salafsky Nick and Wollengberg Eva, 2000; Clements Tom, SuonSeng, 2014). In this context a new approach of ‘Conservation Livelihood’ is developed, which is a synthesis of conservation and management of natural assets including wildlife with sustainable development ensuring means of leaving to the people.