Private conservation and environmental governance

A curious phenomenon in conservation in recent decades has been the growth in private protected areas - reserves for protecting the environment which are owned by communities, individuals, and NGOs, rather than governments - in Patagonia, the southern tip of South America shared between Chile and Argentina.

They are interesting because they represent a number of important yet poorly understood trends in conservation: the rise of private initiatives for biodiversity, the growth of conservation philanthropy, the increased importance of profit motives and private property rights in conservation and many others.

Private conservation may be a solution to the urgent need to protect biodiversity and environments given that the capacity and will of governments is limited, but they are also controversial.

The research has two aspects. Firstly, to examine why this trend has emerged, in particular how it is linked to economic crises in the region in recent decades, the rise of ideas of conservation philanthropy, the liberalisation and internationalisation of property markets, the effects of government incentives, to social networks amongst conservationists and other factors.

Secondly, it looks at the on-the-ground impacts of these protected areas, for both biodiversity and local communities.

It aims to improve understandings of new ways to preserve biodiversity, and their consequences.