Views from the Podu Approaches for a Democratic Ecology of India’s Forests. In Lele, S. and Menon, A. (eds)
This chapter critiques the presiding emphasis on protected areas for biodiversity conservation. It argues that practice and knowledge underlying forest and wildlife management are aimed at maintaining control over landscapes. Current conservation strategies have borrowed from historical forest management practices. The assumptions that underpin conventional conservation policies are based on an out-dated science of equilibrial ecology which results in such faulty assumptions as the presence of people in protected areas being harmful to conservation goals, that ‘inviolate areas’ are essential to conservation, and that use of forests by local communities is the biggest driver of wildlife population declines. The consequences of these practices in the form of displacement of local communities and conflicts have been enormous. There is a need for a new ecological understanding that is based on complexity, uncertainty, local context and history. The article describes the political underpinnings of current conservation and suggests democratic approaches for conservation.