Record Details

Thaman, Baravi;Icely, John D;Fragoso, Bruno D D;Veitayaki, Joeli
A comparison of rural community perceptions and involvement in conservation between the Fiji Islands and Southwestern Portugal
Ocean and Coastal Management
Journal Article
Brachylophus vitiensis
Community involvement in conservation provides significant benefits including the ownership of resources and initiatives that integrate traditional and local knowledge into decision-making processes and management activities. This study assesses and compares the effectiveness of community involvement in conservation initiatives in two different countries, by examining the community's level of involvement and their perceptions of conservation in Yadua (Fiji) and the Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina (PNSACV) (Portugal). The hypothesis was that "Effective community involvement contributes to the success, ownership, benefits, positive impacts and sustainability of conservation projects". Using questionnaires, structured interviews and document analyses of past literature, information obtained about community involvement in conservation activities in the two study areas was compared. Results showed that while community members showed high levels of involvement in all conservation activities in the Fiji study (88%), this was not the case in the Portugal study (43%), where results showed that lack of community involvement, leading to ineffective conservation. In both cases, however, the levels of involvement appear to have influenced community perceptions of conservation efforts' impact upon livelihoods. The Fiji study showed that community-focused conservation can be successful given appropriate community involvement. This contrasted with the Portugal study where conservation efforts were not community-focused and often led to conflicts and criticisms. A bottom-up approach has been utilized in Yadua, Fiji, whereas a top-down approach is clearly observed for the PNSACV in Portugal. A more holistic approach to conservation would empower local communities and ensure the successful implementation of conservation programmes.