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Most social scientists in recent years have written about parks very differently from biologists and other promoters of Protected Area conservation. Especially when dealing with Africa and other developing regions, social scientists have generally portrayed parks as areas of restriction and exclusion imposed on a disempowered poor rural population by the combined forces of national governments and international conservation movements (Brockington, 2002; Gibson, 1999; Guyer and Richards, 1996; Neumann, 1998, 2001). On the whole, local people are seen to have little say and to derive little or no benefit from parks that neighbor them and that in many cases occupy land they previously controlled. Indeed, they often are not even permitted within the boundaries of the parks, and activities they might have performed routinely in the past have, in the context of the park, become illegal and subject to severe penalties. People living near parks also face the risks of wild fauna, which in many cases threaten their lives, livelihoods, and property – risks that few people in rich countries would tolerate for long.
The main counter examples to such negative depictions of “fortress conservation” have been the portrayals of community conservation programs, in which local communities are given a direct stake in the preservation of habitats and animal populations near them. In most of these cases, local people are involved in management decisions and have control over a substantial portion of the revenue collected by the protected area.
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