~ by Kalyanee Paranjape
Given the tumultuous history of conservation and establishment of national parks, it is important to note that protected areas continue to provide various benefits to the local population. These benefits are not just limited to providing ecosystem services but also have shown to alleviate poverty. Various scholars have discussed these benefits by analyzing the various types of capital but few have evaluated them in a single system.
A recent paper titled, “Contributions of financial, social and natural capital to food security around Kanha National Park in central India”, sheds more light of this. The researchers have utilized the five capitals model of sustainable development – including financial capital, social capital, natural capital, human capital, to clarify associations between certain livelihood factors and food access in the Kanha National Park (KNP) landscape. This framework has allowed the researchers to explore locally contextual links between livelihood characteristics and well-being while also providing a way to compare across time and geography. The authors have focused on food security as a multidimensional aspect of well-being.
The study took place in central India (yellow inset) surrounding Kanha National Park (dark grey polygon), surveyed households are demarcated by black dots.
The paper revolves around three aspects, the status of food security around KNP, how it varies across seasons and geography; and the contribution of the three capitals including finance, social and natural to household level food security. The team used semi structure interviews to extensively survey around 800 household across three seasons (summer, monsoon and winter) to capture seasonal changes of food security and livelihoods.
The paper revealed that the food security of a large majority of households is below acceptable levels and that more than 80% report poor or borderline food consumption scores year round. Due to its focus on the different types of capital, the research was able to discuss the influence of natural capital in a human dominated landscape, the use of social capital in place of financial opportunities and the use of human capital for kitchen gardens. But unlike many other studies which report the direct benefits that natural capital has on well-being, this study revealed the dominating role of financial capital to household security.
Neelakantan, A., DeFries, R., Sterling, E. and Naeem, S. (2020) Contributions of financial, social and natural capital to food security around Kanha National Park in central India. Regional Environmental Change 20, 26
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