Mishra, C., Young, J. C., Fiechter, M., Rutherford, B., Redpath, S. M. (2017). Building partnerships with communities for biodiversity conservation: lessons from Asian mountains. Journal of Applied Ecology, , 1–9.
Abstract: Applied ecology lies at the intersection of human societies and natural systems. Consequently, applied ecologists are constantly challenged as to how best to use ecological knowledge to influence the management of ecosystems (Habel et al. 2013). As Hulme (2011) has pointed out, to do so effectively we must leave our ivory towers and engage with stakeholders. This engagement is especially important and challenging in areas of the world where poverty, weak institutions and poor governance structures conspire to limit the ability of local communities to contribute to biodiversity conservation. These communities often bear disproportionate costs in the form of curtailed access to natural resources, ecosystem services, and developmental
programmes, and also suffer wildlife-caused damage, including injuries or loss of human life, and economic
and psychological impacts (Madhusudan & Mishra 2003). It is well-recognized that conservation efforts in large parts of the world historically have been perceived to be discriminatory by local people (Mishra 2016). The need for engagement with local communities is therefore embedded in the 2020 Aichi biodiversity targets and is widely thought to be critical to the success of conservation efforts. However, although the need for engagement is clear, as ecologists and practitioners we often have little formal training in how we should engage with local communities and how we can recognize the pitfalls and opportunities provided by developing genuine partnerships. The practical challenges of achieving effective engagement are considerable (Agrawal & Gibson 1999; Waylen et al. 2010, 2013), and such forays are fraught with difficulties and ethical considerations (Chan et al. 2007). When they are done badly, conservation interventions
can damage relationships and trust, and lead to serious injustice to local people and setbacks for ecological
outcomes (Duffy 2010). Much has been written on knowledge exchange and participatory research approaches (e.g. Reed et al. 2014 and references therein). This Practitioner’s Perspective
seeks to focus on the next logical step: the elements that practitioners and researchers need to consider when
engaging with communities to effect conservation. Engagement around the management of protected areas
has been discussed and formalized (e.g. Dudley 2008). Considerable literature has also emerged, particularly
from Africa, on the use and co-management of natural resources, commonly referred to as community-based natural resource management or CBNRM (e.g. Fabricius 2004; Roe, Nelson & Sandbrook 2009; Child & Barnes
2010). There have been attempts to draw general principles for CBNRM (e.g. Thakadu 2005; Gruber 2010). In
the related field of community-based conservation, however, while there have been efforts to draw lessons (e.g. Berkes 2004), little exists in terms of frameworks or guidelines for effectively working with local communities to effect biodiversity conservation in multi-use landscapes
(Mishra 2016). The eight principles for community-based conservation outlined here (Fig. 1) build on ideas developed in fields as diverse as applied ecology, conservation and natural
resource management, community health, social psychology, rural development, negotiation theory, and ethics
(see Mishra 2016). They have been developed, challenged and tested through 20 years of community experience andour own research on the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia and its mountain ecosystems, in South and Central Asia. We suspect that with contextual adaptations, their relevance for applied ecologists and practitioners may be universal.
Sharma, K., Fiechter, M., George, T., Young, J., Alexander, J.
S., Bijoor, Suryawanshi, K., Mishra, C. (2020). Conservation and people: Towards an ethical code of conduct for
the use of camera traps in wildlife research. Ecological Solutions and Evidence, , 1–6.
Abstract: 1. Camera trapping is a widely employed tool in wildlife
research, used to estimate animal abundances, understand animal
movement, assess species richness and under- stand animal behaviour. In
addition to images of wild animals, research cameras often record human
images, inadvertently capturing behaviours ranging from innocuous
actions to potentially serious crimes.
2. With the increasing use of camera traps, there is an urgent need to
reflect on how researchers should deal with human images caught on
cameras. On the one hand, it is important to respect the privacy of
individuals caught on cameras, while, on the other hand, there is a
larger public duty to report illegal activity. This creates ethical
dilemmas for researchers.
3. Here, based on our camera-trap research on snow leopards Panthera
uncia, we outline a general code of conduct to help improve the practice
of camera trap based research and help researchers better navigate the
ethical-legal tightrope of this important research tool.