conservation policy; dialogue; ecosystem services; forest value perception; Madagascar; protected areas
Madagascar is well-known for its natural uniqueness but at the same time faces a tremendous
habitat loss because of anthropogenic threats. As global initiative governments are
encouraged to nominate protected areas in order to either stop or reduce biodiversity loss.
While decisions on conservation activities are mainly based on epistemic grounds, the role of
local people and their socio-cultural context in its complexity remains to be left out. Although
conservation organizations demonstrate their willingness to cooperate with local people,
cultural discrepancies are still too vast and yet inhibit a well-balanced and constructive
In a social science study using participatory rural appraisal and semi-structured interviews in
two biosphere reserves in the north of Madagascar we collected qualitative data from local
people, local authorities and biosphere reserve management.
The aim is (1) to contrast local value perceptions with western epistemic based understanding
of forest resources and (2) to elaborate on local social institutions (organization) in the two
Malagasy biosphere reserves. Results show on the one hand that by far not only provisioning
services are conveyed as could have been expected, but also values that can be assigned to
one of the three other categories: regulating, cultural or supporting services. On the other hand
local people support a grouping in thematic associations, which foster their recognition and
potential social movements towards collectively defined goals in the conservation debate.
These facts encourage dialogue between apparently differing positions on forest ecosystems
that provide services to both the local and the global community.
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