Playing the Matrix: The Fate of Biocultural Diversity in Community Governance and Management of Protected Areas


Community conservation, currently touted as a possible solution to the evils and ills of conventional modes of nature preservation, is being formalized in ways that threaten biocultural diversity. This drama is playing out at multiple scales and at contested sites evoked in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Protected Areas Matrix, which has its roots in late twentieth-century efforts to standardize the recognition and categorization of conservation areas around the world. This article assesses the merits of the Matrix and asks whether we are destroying endogenous processes that generate biocultural diversity in our quest to conserve it.