Two Sides of a Coin

Dilys Roe
Dilys Roe

Researchers meet in London to examine the effects of large scale deals on poverty and conservation worldwide

|  By Maureen Chigbo  |  Apr. 8, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

HOW large land deals affect effort efforts to tackle poverty worldwide was the subject of discussion at 2 two-day conference of researchers in London March 26 and 27.   Land deals are burning issues worldwide because they are on the increase, and often take place in areas that are home to large numbers of poor people.

Most importantly, biodiversity, people and wildlife can lose out when investors acquire land for large scale agriculture. At the same time, there are growing threats from ‘green grabs’ that displace communities in order to conserve wildlife or gain value from eco-tourism, biofuels or the carbon that forests store in their wood.

Fred Nelson
Fred Nelson

The meeting, organised bythe International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Land Coalition, the Zoological Society of London and Maliasili Initiatives, is the international symposium of the Poverty and Conservation Learning Group. At the meeting, researchers joined the dots between large land deals, conservation, land rights and efforts to tackle poverty in poor communities worldwide. Speakers presented research on both impacts of land grabs on conservation and its reverse – the role of conservation as a driver of land grabs. They also shared studies that show how stronger land rights can improve conservation outcomes as well as presented case studies from Cameroon, Uganda, Chile, Kenya, Mongolia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Liberia and Cambodia.

“The global rush for land threatens to squeeze out both poor communities with weak land rights, and wild species and habitats that we should be conserving,” says Dilys Roe, a senior researcher at IIED, which convenes the Poverty and Conservation Learning Group. “It is in the interests of both the conservation and land rights communities to tackle the land rush. One solution is for them to work more strategically together to secure or strengthen local land rights in ways that bring both conservation and development benefits.”

Fred Nelson, executive director of Maliasili Initiatives, which supports sustainable natural resource management efforts in Africa, said: “Secure land tenure is a foundation of community-driven conservation efforts around the world. The current land crisis provides an opportunity for conservation, development, and human rights groups to work together to address historically-rooted weaknesses in the recognition of local communities’ land rights, and to enable communities to better secure their territories and the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend.”

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