Public attitudes wildlife and conservation in the Third World
Protective legislation in Chile
Western conservationists and development planners appear to assume that the Third World public is almost entirely antagonistic to conservation and ignorant of conservation issues. Recent surveys in Tanzania, Rwanda. Brazil and the United States show, on the contrary, that little difference in attitudes exists between the countries, and thus indicate that indigenous support for conservation is as strong in Third World countries as it is in the industrialized West.
The surveys in Tanzania, Rwanda and Brazil investigated attitudes to general conservation issues. The Tanzanian survey sampled 1217 primary- and 800 secondary-school pupils. Because less than 1 percent of the Tanzanian population attends secondary school, the results presented here concern mostly the primary-school pupils. In Brazil 520 adults were interviewed. The Rwandan study consisted of two surveys, four years apart, of 72 and 119 farmers, respectively. While the part of the survey in the United States (3500 adults) described here concentrated on attitudes to coyotes and wolves, it is comparable to the others because a strongly significant correlation existed between attitudes to the predators and attitudes to wildlife in general.
In the Tanzanian study, about as many primary-school pupils thought that national parks had a higher priority than other forms of land use as thought the reverse. Thus, in response to the statement, "If food were scarce, national parks should be used for farming," 39 percent disagreed, compared with 45 percent agreeing. In the Brazil study, 74 percent of landowners said that they would protect or leave alone wildlife on their property. In Rwanda, 49 percent of the earlier sample of farmers living adjacent to the national park did not think the parks should be converted to agriculture. Finally, in the United States, 42 percent of the general public liked wolves to some degree, and 39 percent expressed varying levels of dislike. Thus, all the surveys produced roughly the same result: about as many people expressed some form of support for wildlife and its protection as expressed disapproval.
In both Rwanda and Brazil, the conservation area adjacent to the sampled population was forest. In reply to questions concerning the utility of the protected forest, the majority of responses in both countries concerned the forest's impact on the climate. In Rwanda, a more specific question was asked of the farmers: Does the mountain forest have any effect on your water supply?" Half (49 percent) of the earlier sample replied that it did.
Most Tanzanian national parks are savannah, and have no role in water catchment. In this country, the most common response (40 percent) to questions about the role of the national parks, was that they earned foreign exchange. A very similar response was given by Rwandan farmers in the first survey to questions concerning the utility of protected wildlife: 39 percent saw tourism as its main value. In the Tanzanian study, responses could be separated into utilitarian and "ethical" values. National parks, as well as providing such material benefits as foreign exchange and animal products, were seen by Tanzanian primary-school pupils also as providing protection for animals and preserving Tanzania's heritage for future generations. Where a total of 53 percent of responses were utilitarian, 37 percent were ethical.
The data so far show only correlations, not cause and effect. However, in Rwanda, surveys of farmers' attitudes were conducted in the first and fifth years of a conservation awareness campaign m the country. Over the four-year period, a marked improvement in attitudes was apparent, which is difficult to attribute to anything other than the campaign itself. The proportion of local farmers who saw some utility in the protected forest rose from 49 percent to 81 percent; the proportion who saw utility in the protected wildlife rose from 41 percent to 63 percent; the proportion who saw the forest as beneficial to their water supply rose from 49 percent to 86 percent; and the proportion who thought that the national park should be converted to agriculture dropped from 51 percent to just 18 percent. All changes were highly significant statistically.
A.H. Harcourt, H. Pennington
& A.W. Maber
Excerpted from Oryx, July 1986
Since the end of 1985. Chile has been in possession of legislation of a unique, up-to-date and coherent character relating to a System of Protected National Wildlife Areas. These recently enacted regulations entrust to the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) the administration and control of such areas, thereby legally endorsing the responsibilities to a large extent already undertaken by this government agency.
The law in question comprises 39 permanent clauses which systematize, update and improve the regulations formerly in force. They apply the most advanced principles and techniques to ensure their implementation.
Up to the time of enactment of the new law the areas under the control of CONAF represented a total of almost 13 million ha, equivalent to 18 percent of the country's continental land area. Six of Chile's national parks have been officially adopted as International Biosphere Reserves by Unesco in recognition of their particularly representative character among the world's main ecosystems.
In the opinion of specialists, the chief virtues of the new legislation are that they satisfy a need and legally ratify the responsibilities so far undertaken in this field by the Ministry of Agriculture, acting through CONAF, in safeguarding the characteristics of the country's significant natural environments.
A further feature is that the concept of officially protected wildlife areas has been expanded to include the comprehensive management of all national environmental resources, thereby acknowledging the interrelated and interdependent character of the component conservation areas.