The value of tropical biodiversity in rural Melanesia

Foale, Simon, Dyer, Michelle, and Kinch, Jeff (2016) The value of tropical biodiversity in rural Melanesia. Valuation Studies, 4 (1). pp. 11-39.

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Abstract

In this paper we discuss differences in the ways transnational conservationists and Melanesian farmers, hunters and fshers value 'biodiversity'. The money for conservation projects in developing countries originates from people who are embedded in a capitalist system, which allows engagement with nature as an abstract entity. Their western education has given them a scientific/evolutionary-based worldview, which attributes intrinsic value to all species (and particular arrangements of species, e.g. rainforests and coral reefs), irrespective of economic value or ecosystem function. Because this value system is mostly not shared by the custodians of the biodiversity that conservationists want to save, alternative tactics and arguments are utilised. These inevitably take the form of so-called 'win-win' economic rationales for preserving biodiversity, most of which do not work well (e.g. bioprospecting, ecotourism, non-timber forest products, environmental certifcation schemes, payments for ecosystem services, etc.), for reasons which we detail. Agriculture- and aquaculture-based livelihoods appear to enjoy more success than the 'win-win' options but do not necessarily obviate or deter further biodiversity loss. Artisanal use of species-poor but productive and resilient pelagic fsheries is increasing. These ecological and economic realities bring into sharp focus the importance of understanding differences in value systems for successful biodiversity conservation in the tropics.

Item ID: 46503
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: epistemology; worldview; poverty; conservation; education; development
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© 2016 Authors. Accepted manuscripts are published as PDFs with full open access and authors retain the copyright to their work.

ISSN: 2001-5992
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2016 21:57
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 40%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 30%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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