Nature, conflict and biodiversity conservation in the Nanda Devi biosphere reserve

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Much of the research concerning biosphere reserves has focused on problems of ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation rather than the preservation of an ecosystem in which humans play an int egral part. Local people often oppose such protected areas because traditional economic and subsistence opportunities will be lost. Thus, there exists a tension between globalised conservation efforts and their unwanted local economic and cultural effects. This research uses the case of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR) in the Garhwal Himalayas of India to explore how conflicts over biosphere reserve management are grounded in competing social constructions of nature, reflected in discourse and translated into resource management ideals. This article employs multiple methods to uncover how competing conceptions of nature, manifest through discourses of nature, influence ideas of how the reserve should be managed. Local populations seek to conserve biodiversity through livelihoods while the policies that govern the NDBR seek to limit such activities, creating conflict. Helping policy makers to understand that local ideas of resource management are based in ideas of a sacred landscape experienced through communal livelihood activities may serve to create conservation policies that will accommodate local people and help to preserve biod iversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-224
Number of pages14
JournalConservation and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Biosphere reserves
  • Conflict
  • Discourse
  • Himalayas
  • Political ecology


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