Why joint conservation and development projects often fail: An in-depth examination in the Peruvian Amazon

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Chambers, J 
Aguila Mejía, MD 
Ramírez Reátegui, R 

jats:pConservation projects commonly claim to convert local people into long-term environmental stewards and improve their well-being. Yet, evidence frequently contradicts these win-win claims. The “multiple environmentalities” framework outlines distinct approaches that projects often use to foster environmental motivation and behavior: (1) neoliberal: constructing material incentives, (2) sovereign: imposing protective laws, and (3) disciplinary: fostering norms and values. We use a mixed method approach to examine how combinations of these environmentalities shape the land use motivations and behavior of 270 families living in 15 project settings in the Peruvian Amazon. We identify four direct reasons why these projects often fail to achieve their intended outcomes, regardless of the environmentalities employed: (1) self-selection of like-minded individuals, (2) limited ability of extrinsic motivators (i.e. material incentives and protective laws) to reduce reported deforestation behaviors, (3) limited internalization of motivations for conservation, and (4) ignored broader economic drivers of deforestation. We argue that these challenges stem from the typical external design of conservation projects based on fixed and limited interpretations of human motivation. Our findings point to the importance of deliberative processes that can support local and external actors to navigate and reframe competing motivations to co-design approaches to conservation governance at local and broader scales.</jats:p>

Conservation interventions, environmentality, motivations, deforestation behavior, Peru
Journal Title
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space
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SAGE Publications
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Economic and Social Research Council (ES/S011447/1)