Learning to Change and Changing Learning in Environmental Management: A case study of the Kaw Nature Reserve in French Guiana

by Notin, Kimberly Knowles

Abstract (Summary)
Participation is a key component in socially just, successful nature conservation. Yet, participation can range from informing citizens to offering them decision-making power. Only participation that allows for an open, respectful negotiation of conservation planning and implementation opens the door to engaging, place-appropriate conservation, rather than conservation implemented by external agents with external agendas. However ecologically or socially correct these external agendas may be, collaboration by all stakeholders validates the appropriateness of conservation projects. One conservation tool is education, which typically assumes that the public lacks environmental knowledge and that information can create environmentally aware and active citizens. Often in environmental education programs, the leading organization defines the problem and goals prior to contact with the public. While education can enhance environmental literacy and open doors to environmental action, it is important to recognize the diverse knowledge and experiences of the audience so that they can contribute to successful conservation. My research was based on two connected ideas. First, collaboration among the broadest array of stakeholders requires an education model that is based on learning together, versus a one-way flow of information. Second, a useful way of beginning collaborative education is to recognize, respect and make the most of the diverse experiences, opinions and knowledge of all the stakeholders. I present a case study that focuses on the stakeholders of the Kaw Nature Reserve. This Reserve is eight years old and has been historically beset with conflict. I interviewed a diverse array of stakeholders involved with or affected by the Reserve to determine important themes regarding communication, conservation goals, and viewpoints on land use. The themes I identified can provide the groundwork to understanding the potential role of collaborative education and dialogue in this Reserve, and provide collaborative tools for participatory conservation in France and beyond. The analysis revealed four dominant themes: 1) historical, regulatory and communicative sources of conflict among the Kaw Reserve stakeholders, 2) the effect of external power relations on the Kaw village and Reserve, 3) the Atipa resource crisis, and 4) similarities among stakeholders and diversity within groups.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr. Steve Siebert; Dr. Carol Brewer; Dr. Sarah Halvorson

School:The University of Montana

School Location:USA - Montana

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:college of forestry and conservation


Date of Publication:12/18/2006

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.