Evidence to action: research to address IWT, workshops and panels

1 October 2018

On 9 October, BIOSEC is one of the partners hosting Evidence To Action: research to address illegal wildlife trade, which precedes the Illegal Wildlife Trade government conference in London on 11-12 October. The whole BIOSEC team will be attending both events. For a schedule of the day, see the Evidence To Action event website, as well as more details of the BIOSEC panel and workshops below.

Rosaleen Duffy is one of the speakers on the Evidence to Policy plenary session, and Francis Masse is a contributor to the Panel ‘Gender- A missing link in efforts to eradicate the Illegal Wildlife Trade’, organised by Helen Anthem and Rebecca Drury, Flora and Fauna International.

BIOSEC team members have also organised the following workshops and panels, some of which were available for live streaming.

Panel on Militarisation and Conservation

Organised by Rosaleen Duffy, University of Sheffield

Presenters: Bram Buscher, University of Wageningen; Rosaleen Duffy, University of Sheffield; Jasper Humphreys, Kings College London; George Wambura (Community Wildlife Management Areas Consortium); Charles Jones Nsonkali (Thematic supervisor, Okani, Cameroon)

This roundtable will debate the militarisation of conservation as a strategy for tackling IWT. Militarised approaches to conservation appear to be expanding, becoming institutionalised and normalised in a growing number of places and among particular conservation NGOs and donors (Duffy, 2016; Marijnen, 2017; Massé, Lunstrum & Holterman, 2017). Part of the reason for a shift towards militarised conservation is that some conservationists feel pressure to act urgently, before it is too late to prevent extinctions in the wild. A sense of urgency can be especially acute in conflict zones or if conservationists feel that poachers are adopting more aggressive tactics. However, there have been growing criticisms of militarisation as socially unjust, ineffective at preventing poaching and contributing armed conflict in particular places.

This panel offers an opportunity to discuss and reflect on militarisation of conservation as a key policy agenda in IWT. We will discuss the wider context of militarisation, including the links to wider logics of militarism, global security and the political economy of developing more forceful approaches. The roundtable brings together expert researchers on conservation, with backgrounds from politics, sociology, conflict studies and human geography to develop the debate. The aim is to draw on evidence from research on militarisation more widely and conservation more specifically to inform this debate.

Raising the profile of plants in IWT policy

An evidence-based agenda setting workshop organised by Jared Margulies, University of Sheffield

This 2-hour workshop proposes to bring together researchers, policy experts, and conservation practitioners to discuss and debate practical opportunities for raising the profile of non-charismatic wild species that are actively traded across international markets. Of particular interest for this workshop is developing and assessing opportunities for outreach to the public, especially within the UK, regarding the everyday or ‘mundane’ consumption of illegally traded species that consumers may simply be unaware of. Through facilitated discussion, the workshop group will identify and discuss gaps and opportunities for raising awareness about the use and exploitation of non-charismatic species, with a particular focus on identifying areas or themes of research that could help fill important knowledge gaps in understanding the illegal trade of ‘unloved’ species.

Understanding Wildlife Protection Economies

Policy, Practice, Rationales, and Impacts organised by Francis Massé, University of Sheffield and Annette Hübschle, University of Cape Town

The intensification in commercial poaching, trafficking and the illicit trade in biodiversity has led to a parallel intensification in efforts to disrupt illicit wildlife economies. Most notably, there is a wealth of policy, practice, and research on anti-poaching and law enforcement in protected areas in source countries. Interventions to address IWT, however, are not limited to these spaces and the illicit extraction of biodiversity, but are focused at and across many scales along the IWT supply chain.

Given the sense of urgency that is attached to the rise in IWT, there is a necessity to understand the challenges, opportunities, and impacts of wildlife protection economies. Recognizing the theoretical paradigms and empirical bases on which IWT-related policing, enforcement, and other responses are based and how this shapes interventions, or not, is equally important. Hence, taking stock of current approaches to address IWT, understanding their challenges, successes, and effects to date, and shedding light on areas where more resources and research are needed is a necessary step in shaping informed policy and practice.

The diversity of approaches in social science research is well-positioned to do just this. Many researchers are engaging with the broad range of efforts being implemented to disrupt IWT and related economies, with much of this complemented by colleagues and research in the conservation sciences.

In our mini workshop, panellists from a variety of backgrounds and approaches will contribute to an informed and enhanced understanding of the landscape of wildlife protection economies by speaking to one or more of the following themes and questions:

  • What their research method or disciplinary approach offers to an understanding of IWT-related policing, enforcement, and responses?

  • Empirical cases of the successes/challenges of anti-poaching, law enforcement and policing and lessons learned.

  • Comparable case studies on protection economies, illegal markets or criminal networks outside of IWT

  • How might wildlife protection economies be more socially, economically and ecologically just and sustainable?

  • What kinds of effects have wildlife protection economies had on conservation practice, policy, and personnel, researchers and local communities?

  • Gaps in policy and practice that require further research and/or attention.

Gender - a missing link in efforts to eradicate the Illegal Wildlife Trade

Organised by Helen Anthem, Fauna and Flora International and Rebecca Drury, Fauna and Flora International

Presenters: Helen Anthem, Fauna & Flora International; Rebecca Drury, Fauna & Flora International; Francis Masse, University of Sheffield; Meredith Gore, Michigan State University; Moses Muthoki, Ol Pejeta Conservancy

The importance of integrating gender into conservation is increasingly acknowledged but there are still significant gaps in knowledge, policy and practice. This is particularly true in the context of illegal wildlife trade where, despite anecdotal evidence that the roles of actors in the trade are highly gender differentiated, there appears to be very little attention paid to gender in research, policy and programming. Indeed most approaches to addressing IWT appear to be ‘gender blind’ i.e. no distinction is made between the sexes, or differences are acknowledged but not adequately analysed and acted upon. This can result in interventions based on unfounded assumptions as well as a bias in favour of existing gender relations. Indeed some interventions, for example where associated with increased militarisation, may in fact reinforce rigid gender roles and stereotypes and marginalise women further.

Given that gender analysis and integration has been shown to improve outcomes in other spheres of conservation, it could be surmised that this is likely also to be true for IWT. However, the gender blind nature of practice to date means that the evidence base for this hypothesis is currently lacking. This session aims to begin to address this gap by initiating a discussion between a diverse set of IWT stakeholders framed around the following questions:

  • What is already known about the roles of both men and women in aiding or preventing IWT?

  • How is gender being integrated (or not) into interventions designed to reduce IWT?

  • What are the implications and risks of gender blind approaches?

  • What are the key knowledge gaps and priority areas for future interdisciplinary action research?

  • What opportunities exist for multi-stakeholder collaboration to move this agenda forward?

Take a look at the Evidence to Action abstract book (external PDF) for information on other sessions.