There are rapidly increasing tensions between actors engaged in the governance of environment and natural resources in Africa. This becomes clear when reviewing current trends in the conservation-development debate and combining these insights with trends in environmental governance, most especially the commodification of ‘nature’ under pressures of neoliberalism. Our argument starts by showing how the conservation-development debate has become polarised due to increasing criticism of community-based approaches to nature conservation and how these unfold in terms of value and scale. We argue that the strong sense of urgency involved in this neoprotectionist turn amongst conservation practitioners has been reciprocated by an equally strong reply from community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) advocates, thereby further straining the choices that must be made with respect to conservation practice. Through a discussion of the current neoliberal turn in environmental governance, we suggest that the potential of actors to promote divergent and ambiguous values in policy and practice across scale has increased over the past decade and will continue to do so. This, in turn, may lead to environmental governance that favours the ‘sustained’ polarisation of actors’ priorities in research and policy concerning

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ISS Staff Group 4: Rural Development, Environment and Population
Conservation and Society
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Büscher, B., & Dressler, W. (2007). Linking Neoprotectionism and Environmental Governance: On the Rapidly Increasing Tensions between Actors in the Environment-Development Nexus. Conservation and Society, 5(4), 586–611. Retrieved from