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This panel will analyse the impact of the Covid-19-related collapse of international tourism on community conservation programs in drylands worldwide, focusing on socioeconomic effects, land-use changes, impacts on wildlife, examples of local resilience and the exploration of alternative futures
Since the 1990s a diversity of so-called Community Conservation (CC) programmes have been implemented in dryland areas worldwide. Such programmes claim They are supposed to empower local communities to manage wildlife and forests, as well as to increase the revenue accruing to these populations from conservation-related economic activities. In some cases, Indigenous Peoples have been involved in such schemes. Most of these programmes have been based on the premise that tourism would provide income and jobs to be distributed among local community members and that this, in turn, would increase tolerance towards wildlife and support for wildlife conservation; they are often implemented through tourism business joint ventures between communities and private companies. One of the main effects of Covid-19 and its preventive measures, though, has been an almost total collapse of international tourist visits, leading to a sharp fall in income to companies, governments and communities. This panel wishes to analyse how the crisis in the tourism sector has impacted dryland rural populations that have become strongly involved in conservation. We are especially (but not exclusively) interested in issues such as: the socioeconomic impact of declining revenues and employment on local populations, the effects on wildlife (increasing Human-Wildlife Conflict, poaching), religious and spiritual views of the pandemic and nature-society relations, and possible changes in land use in and adjacent to conservation areas. We are also looking for examples of resilience within communities and for the possible creation of openings to explore and enact alternative conservation futures for post-Covid-19 drylands.