Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Jill M. Belsky

Commitee Members

Laurie Yung, Kimber McKay


Community-Based Conservation, Peru, Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs), Private Conservation, Land Rights, Campesino


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Environmental Policy | Environmental Studies | Forest Management | International Relations | Latin American Studies


Community-owned private reserves are emerging around the world as an alternative to government-run resource management and as a way to more directly involve citizens as stewards of their local natural resources. Despite their recent proliferation globally, voluntary efforts by communities to include their land in protected area systems, and the motivations and expectations of their legal recognition remain largely unknown. This thesis examines community-owned private conservation areas in Northern Peru locally known as Áreas de Conservación Privadas (ACPs) which are voluntary and legally recognized by the Peruvian State. The study investigates the rationales and outcomes of the application of ACPs in campesino (peasant) communities, and how both are shaped by socio- political, economic, historical, cultural, and legal contexts at multiple (nested) scales. The field work of this research investigated the creation and management of two case study campesino community-owned ACPs in the Amazonas region of Peru: Molinopampa and Tilacancha. Field research was conducted from December 2012 to Febuary 2015 during my service as a Peace Corps volunteer in the region where the study took place. The field research included largely qualitative methods including participant observation, in-depth interviews with government officials at the national level, regional NGOs and governmental agencies, and community leaders, and household surveys in the community-owned ACPs. The research found that the implementation and outcomes of ACPs in Peru are shaped by interests, policies and discourses at national and international levels, and their interactions with local communities. Although labeled as “community-owned” the ACPs were being used to increase the amount of land in conservation according to the dominant paradigm involving strict protection and restricted use in designated areas; it even involved displacement in some cases. The case study demonstrated that the local communities examined were excluded from making decisions in regards to what constitutes appropriate land uses for their land, both in national decentralized land planning policies and in the creation of the ACPs. These findings provide for a more nuanced understanding of the inclusion of Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) in legal frameworks. The alignment of community land rights recognition with conservation initiatives as determined by the outside entities led to many negative outcomes for the communities, including less control over their lands, distrust for outside entities, and a growing resistance to conservation as defined by the ACP management plan. This study revealed it is important to understand how new political and economic discourses and actions surrounding nature play into regionally or locally specific histories of environments, land use, and governance and agrarian relations.



© Copyright 2015 Megan Barnhart