Understanding and assessing equity in protected area conservation: a matter of governance, rights, social impacts and human wellbeing
Equity — or fairness — is increasingly recognised as a crucial issue for conservation, yet it is poorly defined and understood. Focusing on protected areas (PAs), this paper aims to help managers and policy makers make conservation fairer, in the belief that fairer conservation is vital for effective conservation as well as human wellbeing. We explain the meaning of equity in a conservation context, and then examine how equity relates to the more widely understood concepts of rights, governance, social impact and human wellbeing.
We suggest four ways to assess the equity of PA management and governance, of varying rigour, feasibility and credibility. We conclude that giving more attention to enhancing equity, rather than directly improving livelihoods, could lead to greater contributions of PAs to human wellbeing, as well as better conservation.