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Stakeholder engagement and biodiversity conservation challenges in social-ecological systems: some insights from biosphere reserves in western Africa and France

Meriem Bouamrane, UNESCO MAB
Marja Spierenburg, Department of Anthropology and Development Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen
Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan
Amadou Boureima, UniversitÚ Abdou Moumouni de Niamey
Marie-Christine Cormier-Salem, IRD/MNHN; Sorbonne UniversitÚs
Michel Etienne, INRA
Christophe Le Page, CIRAD-UPR GREEN
Harold Levrel, CIRED; AgroParisTech
Raphael Mathevet, UMR 5175 CEFE CNRS


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Biosphere reserves are an example of social-ecological systems that combine biodiversity conservation and socioeconomic development with knowledge generation and dissemination (both scientific and local). We review lessons learned from case studies biosphere reserves in western African and France, highlighting the importance of early stakeholder engagement to build knowledge for achieving sustainable development. We discuss the evolution of the concept of biosphere reserves and its application over time in different socioeconomic and cultural settings. The diversity of stakeholders and their different needs and perceptions about nature conservation complicate implementation processes, sometimes resulting in conflicts about the objectives and zonation of biosphere reserves. Dialogue among the different stakeholders must start at an early planning phase and be based on the principle of social and ecological solidarity. Dialogue must then be pursued, formalized, ritualized, and translated both in terms of biosphere reserve management and in terms of political support. Tools and methods exist that can facilitate such dialogue and colearning.

Key words

biosphere reserves; learning; social-ecological systems; solidarity; sustainable development

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087