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MEA Bulletin - Guest Article No. 97 - Thursday, 29 July 2010
Resource Focus: Conflict-Sensitive Conservation
Conflict-sensitive conservation (CSC) is designed to help conservationists minimize the risks of their actions creating or exacerbating conflict and maximize the opportunities for conflict prevention and peace building. Conflict-sensitive conservation (CSC) emerged from the Conserving the Peace project, an initiative launched in 2005 by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). For more than a decade, IISD has worked to examine three related issues: (1) how natural resource management and other conservation practices can unintentionally contribute to conflict; (2) the challenges of doing conservation work in conflict settings; and (3) the potential for resource management to support conflict resolution and post-conflict recovery.

Since the project’s inception, IISD has worked in close partnership with three conservation organizations to develop and test the CSC methodology: the Wildlife Conservation Society in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Wide Fund for Nature in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and CARE International in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.

Throughout the project, technical support has been provided by the Conservation Development Centre, a conservation consultancy based in Kenya.

Conservation policies and practices can be mechanisms for conflict prevention and peace building. But they can also create or exacerbate grievances that, in turn, lead to conflict with, between and within local communities. Conservation can lead to conflict in three broad ways:

Conservation can restrict peoples' access to key livelihood resources
Conservation can introduce new or additional economic burdens or risks
Conservation can result in the unequal distribution of benefits

Operating in conflict zones can alter – and sometimes amplify – these links between conservation and conflict. Volatile socio-political dynamics can increase the risks associated with traditional conservation-related conflicts or introduce a new set of risks – and opportunities – for conservationists. Specifically, conservation activities in a conflict zone may end up:

Contributing to (violent) conflict
Being (negatively) affected by violent conflict
Acting as mechanisms for conflict prevention and peace building

To share its work on this issue, IISD, together with its partners, has launched a new website,, with resources on conflict-sensitive conservation, including information on making your organization more conflict-sensitive (click here) and information on making your conservation work more conflict-sensitive (click here). An extensive list of resources and publications is also available (click here). For more information, contact:
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