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When global environmentalism meets local livelihoods: policy and management lessons

Formally Refereed
Authors: John Schelhas, Max J. Pfeffer
Year: 2009
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Conservation Letters 2(6):278-285


Creation of national parks often imposes immediate livelihood costs on local people, and tensions between park managers and local people are common. Park managers have tried different approaches to managing relationships with local people, but nearly all include efforts to promote environmental values and behaviors. These efforts have had uneven results, and there is a need to improve our understanding of how environmental values develop, change, and influence behavior. We investigated this question in a study of communities in and adjacent to national parks in Costa Rica and Honduras, using a mental and cultural model approach. We found local people to be fluent in global environmental values, but some common values had limited impact on behavior due to conflicts with livelihood needs. However, new environmental values that integrated conservation and livelihood needs had developed that had a more direct relationship to behavior. We propose a general model of how local environmental values develop in the context of global environmentalism that can be used to guide outreach programs with park neighbors.


Environmental values, Central America, national parks, parks and people, forest conservation


Schelhas, John; Pfeffer, Max J. 2009. When global environmentalism meets local livelihoods: policy and management lessons. Conservation Letters 2(6):278-285.