Can you outline the aims and objectives of the LiveDiverse project? What are the primary issues that it seeks to address?
Many of the world’s most biodiversity-rich regions are to be found in poor and remote areas in developing countries. Protected areas such as national parks and reserves, created to preserve biological diversity, are often located in places where local populations also face major challenges to their livelihoods. The mission is to protect biodiversity in these areas while at the same time increasing the livelihoods of the local populations. High poverty levels and growing populations often lead to increased pressure on forests, wetlands and other protected areas. The LiveDiverse project formulates strategies, together with local people, that help to alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods while at the same time protecting biodiversity.
What are the challenges of ensuring that the protection of biodiversity is not at the expense of rural livelihoods or quality of life?
The livelihoods of rural populations living in and around protected areas are often based on a combination of agriculture, fi shing (where possible), hunting and the collection of edible and medicinal plants, fruits and herbs. Illegal hunting and fi shing and the excessive collection of natural products all have negative impacts on biodiversity. In order to protect biodiversity and increase livelihoods, people need alternatives to the overuse of products from protected areas. More productive agricultural methods can increase crops and provide more food, but it is also necessary to develop new sources of income. They might include the managed and sustainable collection and sale of plants, fruits and herbs, the development of ecotourism, sale of traditional handicrafts and the development of small-scale tourist accommodation as well as paid involvement in the protection of biodiversity.
The study takes in four riparian and aquatic sites in Costa Rica, India, South Africa and Vietnam. How does your set of considerations differ for each of the four regions?
Within each of the case areas we have further selected specifi c villages and communities with which to work more closely, in order to develop in-depth cooperation with local people, especially in the formulation of the participatory scenarios and policy recommendations. The choice of these communities was based on the need to obtain a variety of places in and around the protected areas, as well as the expressed interest of local people to participate in the project. As project resources are also limited, we selected places where the local partners already had established trust with the communities.
To what extent is the dissemination of fi ndings and research activities an important part of the project? Through what channels are you raising awareness of the issues surrounding poverty and biodiversity, and who is your target audience?
It is not only the dissemination, but more importantly the communication of activities and results that are a vital aspect of the project. We have formulated a special communication strategy based on the identifi cation of our target audiences and the specifi c means to reach each of those audiences. We have combined an interactive website and printed information materials in local languages and presentation of the project at domestic and international meetings. However, in many cases we have prioritised personal meetings with local authorities, stakeholders and community members. Our target audience is both the scientific community and the stakeholders and decision makers in our case areas. Through the formulation of development alternatives we also aim to include international organisations in the continuation of our work after the end of the project.
How has the involvement of various groups and regional stakeholders complemented the study, and do you see it contributing to the fulfi lment of the project’s goals?
The project communication strategy is based on the active involvement of policy makers, stakeholders and the public. Through the use of participatory scenario development and the identification of alternative development plans for the case areas, these groups are a vital part of the project. We see them more as our partners than as a complement, as when we look to what will happen when the project ends, we see that it is these groups that will need to continue our work, hopefully through the implementation of development and conservation projects funded by governments or development organisations.
|Period||1 Dec 2011|