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Conflict-Sensitive Conservation

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Natural resource management can often be a source of conflict.

Conservation practitioners know all too well that their work is a form of conflict management, trying to reconcile competing (and sometimes incompatible) interests in the same—often dwindling—natural resource base. The links between natural resources and conflict are particularly evident in developing countries, where poverty, population growth and dependence on natural resources are high. Here, the availability of and access to natural resources are more likely to affect livelihood security, wealth distribution, power structures and even group identities—some of the most common sources of conflict. By trying to protect and sustainably manage the natural resource base and improve human well-being, conservationists are effectively working to minimize important causes of conflict. Conservation, in this regard, can be seen as a mechanism for conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

However, managing competing interests over scarce natural resources has its risks. Conservation policies and practices can create or exacerbate grievances that, in turn, lead to conflicts with, between and within local communities. Thus, efforts to manage and resolve natural resource-based conflicts through conservation can in themselves lead to other forms of conflict.

These dynamics underscore the need for practitioners to design and implement conservation strategies and activities that are sensitive to the causes and impacts of conflict. IISD’s conflict-sensitive conservation approach does just that: it offers guidance for conservation programming and implementation that takes into account the causes, actors and impacts of conflict in order to minimize conflict risks and maximize peacebuilding opportunities.

Since developing the approach, IISD has worked in a number of different contexts (East, West and Central Africa; Latin America) to integrate conflict sensitivity into conservation programming.

  • Blog
    Conserving Biological Hotspots in Conflict-Affected Democratic Republic of Congo

    Conserving Biological Hotspots in Conflict-Affected Democratic Republic of Congo

    Maiko National Park, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is so remote that the park’s northern edge can only be reached by a seven-day walk through thick, inhospitable forest. Read More
  • Paper
    CSC Stories: Supporting Community Conservation in Kahuzi Biega National Park

    CSC Stories: Supporting Community Conservation in Kahuzi Biega National Park

    A short profile of work by IISD and the Wildlife Conservation Society to reduce people-park conflicts by strengthening community involvement in Read More
  • Paper
    CSC Stories: Developing Conflict-Sensitive Management Strategies in Public-Private Conservation Concession in the Amazon

    CSC Stories: Developing Conflict-Sensitive Management Strategies in Public-Private Conservation Concession in the Amazon

    A short profile of efforts to reduce social conflicts around the Los Amigos Conservation Concession in the Peruvian Amazon by incorporating the Read More
  • Paper
    CSC Stories: Restoring the Lake Edward Fishery in Virunga National Park

    CSC Stories: Restoring the Lake Edward Fishery in Virunga National Park

    A short profile of efforts by IISD and the Wildlife Conservation Society to address the impacts of conflict on the Lake Edward fishery in Virunga Read More
  • Paper
    Conservation and Peacebuilding in Sierra Leone

    Conservation and Peacebuilding in Sierra Leone

    Conservation is an intensely political exercise and can be heavily contested.It inherently involves limiting or controlling the access to natural Read More
  • Paper
    Conflict-Sensitive Conservation in Gola Rainforest National Park: Workshop Report

    Conflict-Sensitive Conservation in Gola Rainforest National Park: Workshop Report

    This workshop report summarizes a meeting on conflict-sensitive conservation (CSC) which was held in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 2, 2011.The Read More
  • Paper
    Healing the Rift: Peacebuilding in and around protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Albertine Rift

    Healing the Rift: Peacebuilding in and around protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Albertine Rift

    This report summarizes a 27-month project that piloted a conflict-sensitive approach to conservation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo at Read More
  • Book
    Climate Change and Conflict: Lessons from community conservancies in northern Kenya

    Climate Change and Conflict: Lessons from community conservancies in northern Kenya

    This report is based on the findings of research carried out in two community wildlife conservancies in northern Kenya earlier this year.  Read More
  • Book
    Conflict-Sensitive Conservation: Practitioners' Manual

    Conflict-Sensitive Conservation: Practitioners' Manual

    The Albertine Rift is one of the most biodiverse and ecologically unique regions of Africa. Sadly it has also been the site of some of the world's most violent conflicts in recent history. This turbulent context can pose a range of risks and opportunities to conservationists who are managing resources that can be both a seed of conflict and foundation for peace-building. Read More
  • Commentary
    Hope and Change are Far from Reality for Congolese and a Threatened Environment

    Hope and Change are Far from Reality for Congolese and a Threatened Environment

    In the IISD Commentary, Alec Crawford notes that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to one of the world's worst ongoing conflicts. For the Read More