Naira Dehmel

Thesis title:

The contribution of equitable governance of protected areas to achieving effective biodiversity conservation


Protected areas (PAs) are a key tool for combating extreme rates of biodiversity loss. We have almost reached the 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas which Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) mandates should be conserved in ‘effectively and equitably managed … protected areas’ by 2020. However, concern is growing that, in the rush to meet targets, there has been less focus on whether PAs are either effective or equitable. Recent research suggests that PAs have not resulted in reducing human pressure while, at the same time, there is extensive evidence for negative impacts of PAs on local communities. As the CBD negotiates its targets for the next ten years, there will certainly be a much greater focus on improving the equity of PAs. This study contributes to an exploration of the ‘instrumental’ (as opposed to the moral) argument that more equitable governance will – via changes in management – result in better biodiversity outcomes. It builds on an international effort led by my PhD supervisors, Kate Schreckenberg (KCL) and Phil Franks (IIED), to develop and roll out a practical tool – ‘Site-level Assessment of Governance and Equity’ (SAGE), which provides data that is useful for resolving equity issues at a specific site and may also allow for some higher-level comparison.

During my studentship, I aim to explore the contribution of equitable governance of PAs to the achievement of effective biodiversity conservation; by (i) assessing the extent of the correlation between equity and biodiversity outcome scores for the SAGE pilot sites; (ii) developing a framework for conceptualising and analysing the instrumental pathway(s) from more equitable governance through management activities to improved biodiversity outcomes; and (iii) exploring in-depth one or more of these potential causal pathways in two PAs representing ‘shared’ governance between local-level stakeholders and national-level state actors.

First supervisor:

Dr Kate Schreckenberg

CASE partner:

International Institute for Environment and Development


9- Political Ecology, Energy & Environmental Health