The rhetoric and reality of conservation aid in Western Samoa
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The western conservation concept is articulated at the global level. However in practice conservation is regionally or locally pursued. This thesis examines how the global rhetoric of modern conservation relates to the local reality of conservation in Western Samoa. Three specific conservation area aid projects are analysed to assess this relationship. They are analysed predominantly from the local flaxroots level. A national park approach, motivated by ecological criteria, operates in isolation from its surrounding community. Not only does the strict preservation established at the park boundaries exclude local people, but also the ideologies embodied in the park remain foreign and therefore exclusive. The conservation agenda as pursued in the other two conservation strategies is a more integrated approach that includes socio-economic and cultural criteria, as well as ecological criteria. The villages surrounding these areas are therefore motivated by a broader spectrum of values, many of which are more tangible than long-term ecological benefits. This integration of 'people criteria' into conservation projects is consequently more inclusive of local communities. However the integrated conservation-development approach to conservation contains fundamental problems in its design. Many of these relate to the merger of environment and development objectives within the one project. Despite these broader problems the reality at the local level in Western Samoa supports the continuance of foreign conservation assistance. A strong development imperative and a rapidly disappearing forest resource are two of the realities of the local context that demand external support. This external assistance must be balanced by the value of the local culture.