Skip to Main content

Struggles for just conservation: an analysis of India’s biodiversity conservation conflicts

Author: Eleonora Fanari

New publication Struggles for just conservation: an analysis of India’s biodiversity conservation conflicts by EnvJustice team member, Eleonora Fanari.


The protection of the Earth’s remaining biodiversity continues to be a debate of global importance as well as a source of contestation. In this context, the Indian government started with its post-colonial forest conservation from the 1970s, by ushering in the Wildlife Protection Act in 1972. It has since reinforced its conservation policies, over the last 15 years giving particular focus to the protection of tigers, considered a keystone and endangered species. In 2004, a Tiger Task Force was set up to protect the tiger, followed by the establishment of protected habitats for tiger conservation, which in turn reinforced the idea of a human-wildlife binary and legitimized the control of these spaces through armed policing. These changes in environmental governance have altered the relationship between local communities and forest guards, in many cases aggravating already conflictual interactions. This article discusses the political ecology of emerging conflicts around protected areas (national parks, tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries) in India through an analysis of 26 conflicts documented in the Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas), and informed by field research conducted within and around protected areas of India. Specifically, the article analyzes the interplay between conservation policies and the rights of the commons recognized under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, as well as the socio-economic impacts of conservation policies in terms of dispossession, violence and the increase of “green militarization.” The article also highlights the social resistance movements developed against these trends, which are framed as part of the growing environmental justice movement. The article concludes with how this struggle may be essential to achieving an ecologically sustainable society in the future and to shape a new conservation model.

Find the full article on the Journal of Political Ecology.

Comments are closed.