Nepal—Rethinking conservation strategy in times of conflict

By Oli Brown on July 6, 2010

Building on the Durban resolution on conservation and armed conflict, the International Institute for Sustainable Development organized a workshop during the November 2004 IUCN World Conservation Congress to debate the case of Nepal. The session considered the strategies used in other countries to sustain programs, preserve the legitimacy of conservation organizations and contribute toward the peaceful resolution of conflict.

Key conclusions:

  • The Maoist insurgency presents conservation organizations in Nepal with serious challenges: constraining programs, damaging infrastructure and threatening staff.

  • Environmental impacts are not uniform throughout the country. Their true extent is likely to remain unclear until the conflict is resolved.

  • The majority of negative impacts can be classified as opportunistic endeavours. Others originate from localized needs for resources. Both occur due to a lack of local security. But not all negative impacts can be attributed to one particular group.

Key recommendations:

  • Conservation organizations need to anticipate conflict, prepare contingency plans and work with donors to ensure reliable sources of funding.

  • In times of conflict, conservation organizations must demonstrate their legitimacy by acting transparently, maintaining program continuity and engaging local communities in protected area management. In areas where traditional security measures have broken down, conservation organizations should train local people to manage the protected areas themselves.

  • By managing protected areas in ways that contribute to poverty reduction, the conservation community can both increase its effectiveness and help to reduce conflict.

Report details

IISD, 2010