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Accepted Paper:

Missed connections and dead ends in connectivity conservation: a political-ecological exploration of a village wildlife corridor in Tanzania  
Annette Green (University of Cambridge)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I explore the proliferation of the corridor across Tanzania’s literal and figurative conservation landscape. I present a corridor project case study to show how dominant discourses on landscape-level conservation practice touch down at the local level and manifest in problematic ways.

Paper long abstract:

Where protected areas were once considered self-contained and standalone investments in conservation, for some decades the focus has been shifting towards networks of connected protected areas at a landscape scale. The idea of the conservation corridor has emerged in parallel as a tool or strategy for supporting ecological connectivity – in its simplest, most intuitive incarnation, a stretch of land under some form of protection connecting two existing areas of conservation value, often with a focus on facilitating wild animal movement.

In this paper, I explore the corridor for conservation as a manifestation of landscape-level conservation practice. I present the story of how two villages in south-central Tanzania’s Morogoro region became embroiled in a donor-funded, voluntourism-executed attempt at creating a joint, interdependent village corridor, ostensibly intended to contribute to ecological connectivity between two famous protected areas. Through this case study, I show how dominant discourses on landscape conservation – characterised by the aesthetics of the ‘natural’, a binary understanding of nature/society, and ambiguous appeals to pre-history – filter down from the national level, align with powerful but problematic state-sanctioned planning mechanisms, and ‘touch down’ on the ground in unpredictable ways.

I explore how this contested conservation space remained intractable on one side of the village border while being ‘erased’ on the other. Drawing from network thinking within political ecology, I position this village corridor as a material manifestation conservation’s ‘territorial fix’, but also as a concatenation of personal proclivities, privileged knowledges, spatial planning tools and mundane professional practice.

Panel P008a
The landscape turn in conservation: non-western perspectives and anthropological insights