Conservation and Livelihoods

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSHE2ED3242

To which offered: (I/ III/ V) III semester

Course Title: Conservation and Livelihoods

Credits: 2 Credits

Course Code (new): SHE2ED324

Type of Course: Elective Yes Cohort MAED

Course Coordinator and Team :Prof. Asmita Kabra (CC)

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None


Biodiversity loss and persistent poverty are major global concerns that have been strongly articulated since the 1980s at the national and global levels. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the world’s most biodiversity rich areas are also home to some of the poorest human populations. Access to biodiversity is critical for meeting livelihood needs of the world’s most vulnerable people and groups. The interaction of these groups with their surrounding landscape shapes their economy, politics, identity, culture and worldviews. Formal laws and policies designed to conserve biodiversity have increasingly come to recognize these linkages. At the same time, conservation policies and practice are based on a simplistic imagination of ‘local communities’ that often does not match up to the complex realities on the ground. This course aims to familiarize students with the theoretical and policy frameworks and on-ground experiences of conservation and local livelihoods. It looks at conservation and livelihood linkages from the lens of the state, society and markets, with a running theme of conservation laws and policies that binds these diverse narratives together.

Learning Objectives:

The course is ideal for students aiming to take up research or practice based careers in conservation organizations. The key objectives of the course are:

  1. To understand the theoretical basis for past and present conservation policies and practices
  2. To learn about different models of conservation and their impact on local people’s lives and livelihoods

Course structure:

S. No.



Conservation and livelihoods: An overview


Protected Areas based conservation: theory and practice


Participatory Conservation: Models and outcomes (ICDPs, CBNRM, Ecotourism, Community-based conservation etc.)


Neoliberal conservation: PES, Carbon and Climate Change


Conservation in human-dominated landscapes


Re-conceptualizing conservation and livelihoods in the 21st century


Core readings

  • Adams WM, Aveling R, Brockington D, et al. 2004. Biodiversity conservation and the eradication of poverty. Science (New York, N.Y.) 306: 1146–9.
  • Sandbrook C. 2015. What is conservation? Oryx 49: 565–566.
  • Adams W & Hutton J. 2007. People, parks and poverty: political ecology and biodiversity conservation. Conservation and society 5: 147–183.
  • Agrawal A & Redford K. 2009. Conservation and Displacement: An Overview. Conservation and Society 7: 1–10.
  • Angelsen A, Jagger P, Babigumira R, et al. 2014. Environmental Income and Rural Livelihoods: A Global-Comparative Analysis. World Development xx.
  • Brandon K & Wells M. 1992. People and parks: linking protected area management with local communities. Washington, World Bank/WWF/USAID.
  • Brockington D. 2004. Community conservation, inequality and injustice: Myths of power in protected area management. Conservation and Society 2: 411–432.
  • Brockington D, Duffy R & Igoe J. 2008. Nature unbound: conservation, capitalism and the future of protected areas. London: Earthscan.
  • Bulte EH, Lipper L, Stringer R, et al. 2008. Payments for ecosystem services and poverty reduction: concepts, issues, and empirical perspectives. Environment and Development Economics 13.
  • Fischer J, Brosi B, Daily GC, et al. 2008. Should agricultural policies encourage land sparing or wildlife-friendly farming? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6: 380–385.
  • Kothari A. 2014. Radical Ecological Democracy : A path forward for India and beyond. 57: 36–45.
  • Newell P, Boykoff M & Boyd E. 2012. The ‘new’ carbon economy: What’s new? In: The New Carbon Economy: Constitution, Governance and Contestation. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Persha L, Fischer H, Chhatre A, et al. 2010. Biodiversity conservation and livelihoods in human-dominated landscapes: Forest commons in South Asia. Biological Conservation 143: 2918–2925.
  • Phalan B, Onial M, Balmford A, et al. 2011. Reconciling food production and biodiversity conservation: land sharing and land sparing compared. Science (New York, N.Y.) 333: 1289–91.
  • Roe D & Elliott J (Eds.). 2010. The Earthscan Reader in Poverty and Biodiversity Conservation. London: Routledge.
  • Williams G. 2004. Evaluating participatory development: tyranny, power and (re)politicisation. Third World Quarterly 25: 557–578.

Additional Readings

  • Adams WM. 2012. Feeding the next billion: hunger and conservation. Oryx 46: 157–158.
  • Athreya V, Odden M, Linnell JDC, et al. 2014. A cat among the dogs: leopard Panthera pardus diet in a human-dominated landscape in western Maharashtra, India. Oryx FirstView: 1–7.
  • Brockington D. 2002. Fortress Conservation: The Preservation of the Mkomazi Game Reserve, Tanzania. Oxford: James Currey Publications.
  • Cavanagh CJ & Benjaminsen TA. 2015. Guerrilla agriculture? A biopolitical guide to illicit cultivation within an IUCN Category II protected area. The Journal of Peasant Studies 42: 725–745.
  • Fearnside PM. 2003. Conservation Policy in Brazilian Amazonia: Understanding the Dilemmas. World Development 31: 757–779.
  • Lele S, Springate-Baginski O, Lakerveld R, et al. 2013. Ecosystem Services: Origins, Contributions, Pitfalls, and Alternatives. Conservation and Society 11: 343.
  • Leopold A. 1970. A Sand County Almanac: With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River. Ballantine Books.
  • Li TM. 2002. Engaging simplifications: Community-based resource management, market processes and state agendas in upland Southeast Asia. World Development 30: 265–283.
  • Mansourian S. 2016. Understanding the Relationship between Governance and Forest Landscape Restoration. Conservation and Society 14: 267–278.
  • Marquardt K, Khatri D & Pain A. 2016. REDD + , forest transition , agrarian change and ecosystem services in the hills of Nepal. : 229–244.
  • Nightingale AJ & Ojha HR. 2013. Rethinking Power and Authority: Symbolic Violence and Subjectivity in Nepal’s Terai Forests. Development and Change 44: 29–51.
  • Schuetze C. 2015. Narrative Fortresses: Crisis Narratives and Conflict in the Conservation of Mount Gorongosa, Mozambique. Conservation and Society 13: 141–153.
  • Sundar KSG & Kittur S. 2013. Can wetlands maintained for human use also help conserve biodiversity? Landscape-scale patterns of bird use of wetlands in an agricultural landscape in north India. Biological Conservation 168: 49–56.
  • Terborgh J, van Schaik C, Davenport L, et al. (Eds.). 2002. Making Parks Work: Strategies for Preserving Tropical Nature 9781559639040: Books. Washington D.C.: Island Press.
  • Wunder S, Angelsen A & Belcher B. 2014. Forests, Livelihoods, and Conservation: Broadening the Empirical Base. World Development 64.

Teaching and Assessment

Teaching will involve a combination of self-study, lectures, tutorials and intensive in-class discussions. The course will draw heavily on case studies of conservation from the global South.

Assessments will consist of continuous in-class activities (30%), and two assessments consisting of a test/essay/term paper (35% each).