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Integrating culture and conservation: experiences from a locally managed marine area in Indonesia

Steenbergen, D. (2012) Integrating culture and conservation: experiences from a locally managed marine area in Indonesia. In: 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, 9 - 13 July, Cairns, Australia.


Effective long-term management of coral reefs in remote archipelagos of Eastern Indonesia requires far more than technical ecological know-how. An integral understanding of the dynamics of local culture, political sphere and social networks is of utmost importance. Local artisanal fishing communities must stand to play an important role in managing their livelihood source and living environment. This research examines in detail, the establishment of a locally managed marine area, in order to provide fresh insights into how collaborations across institutional interfaces can be reinforced by acknowledging local cultural and political context. The research draws on an in-depth case-study of the Tanimbar Kei island community in the Kei islands of Maluku Province, located in Eastern Indonesia. Through collaborating with a local conservation NGO, the community has held onto its traditional marine management schemes to ensure that conservation targets are not simply prioritised at the expense of local autonomy over the environment. The case study provides an empirical foundation to expose on-the ground complexities in culture and local politics, and how these dynamics can support and/or undermine partnerships between resource users and conservation oriented organizations. Through an inductive ethnographic approach the study uncovers cultural linkages that exist between local resource users and their immediate marine environment, and how these are continuously being shaped and communicated. The research furthermore explores how such smallscale participatory conservation arrangements can be linked to conservation initiatives beyond the community, and in doing so function within multiple-scale conservation governance frameworks.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
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