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Published in: Environmental Management 6/2021

08-09-2021

Impacts of Decentralized Environmental Governance on Andean Bear Conservation in Colombia

Authors: Rhianna R. Hohbein, Nathan Nibbelink, Robert J. Cooper

Published in: Environmental Management | Issue 6/2021

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Abstract

Decentralized environmental governance has become increasingly common across much of Latin America and in developing countries more generally, yet the impacts of decentralization on wildlife conservation remain unclear. Decentralized environmental governance is thought to improve efficiency, local compliance, and democratic potential of natural resource management. However, wildlife conservation, especially that of large mammals, poses unique challenges in the context of decentralized governance: wildlife conservation is often expensive, requires large expanses of contiguous habitat, and often offers few economic benefits. We analyzed Colombia’s decentralized environmental governance and its performance in conserving a contentious and border-crossing wildlife species, the Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus). We considered both decentralized institutions and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). This analysis is informed by 67 semi-structured interviews with conservation practitioners in Colombia. We found inconsistent program implementation across the country and little information exchange among institutions. These issues quite likely contribute to exacerbated human–bear conflict and thus more Andean bear deaths suggesting that the successful coordination of large-scale wildlife conservation may yet require the leadership of strong central institutions. A few international NGOs were working to improve Andean bear conservation in Colombia, but we saw little involvement at the national level of Colombian NGOs—some of whom felt they were being unfairly outcompeted by international elites. We recommend a greater engagement with Colombian NGOs (by both donors and international NGOs) as a means through which to ensure the integrity of Andean bear conservation into the future.

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Appendix
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Metadata
Title
Impacts of Decentralized Environmental Governance on Andean Bear Conservation in Colombia
Authors
Rhianna R. Hohbein
Nathan Nibbelink
Robert J. Cooper
Publication date
08-09-2021
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Environmental Management / Issue 6/2021
Print ISSN: 0364-152X
Electronic ISSN: 1432-1009
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-021-01532-4