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Protected Area Co-Management Where People and Poverty Intersect: Lessons from Nishorgo in Bangladesh

Author(s): 
Azharul H. Mazumder
Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad
Paul M. Thompson
Philip J. DeCosse
Ram A. Sharma
Institution(s): 
Government of Bangladesh
United States Agency for International Development
Date Published: 
June 1, 2012

The idea that people might be kept out of forest Protected Areas (PAs) in Bangladesh is unimaginable. Even in the vast Sundarban Wildlife Sanctuaries, honey collectors, wood collectors, and fisherfolk are a regular presence. This is not surprising given that there are 32 times as many people per PA hectare in Bangladesh as in India, 75 times as many as in Sri Lanka, and 1,168 times as many as in Bhutan.

The 27 chapters in this book summarize lessons learned from a five-year effort to introduce collaborative management (co-management) in five forest PAs in Bangladesh as a means of improving protection and management of biodiversity. The five pilot PAs were selected from amongst the 19 PAs under statutory authority of the Forest Department in 2003, and were located in the northeast (Lawachara National Park, Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary, and Satchuri National Park) and southeast (Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary and Chunati Wildlife Sanctuary) of the country. Together, they total 23,000 hectares and protect two notably "charismatic" mega-fauna (Hoolock Gibbon and Asian Elephant).

Each of these five PAs is surrounded by thousands of people, predominantly poor. In this respect, Bangladesh's conservation challenge serves as a harbinger of global conservation challenges, with an increasing population and a rising absolute number of poor people. The need to find ways to conserve – even when population and poverty are high – is ever more urgent. This book aims to contribute to that search for practical conservation solutions "where people and poverty intersect."

The volume is predicated on the need for conservation managers to report on what works and what does not. Rarely are failures documented as carefully as successes. This book aims to redress that.  All 28 chapter authors were involved in implementing elements of the program, and were asked to offer their candid assessment of lessons learned. In this sense, the book is intended as a practical knowledge management tool.