Conditionality Contaminates Conservation: Structural Adjustment and Land Protection in Less-Developed Nations

Kelly F. Austin, Mark D. Noble, Kellyn McCarthy


The destruction that human beings cause the natural environment is so catastrophic that the current era has now been labeled the “Sixth Extinction.” Conservation and the preservation of species and ecosystems is a leading strategy in preventing biodiversity loss and preserving natural ecosystems. As threats to biodiversity mount, it is imperative that social scientists explore the macro-level processes that influence conservation areas, especially in poorer nations where the majority of biodiverse zones are located. This study explores the impact of structural adjustment policies on the ability of less-developed nations to designate land for conservation. We use ordinary least squares (OLS) regression to examine the influence of IMF conditionality on levels of terrestrial protected areas for 86 less-developed nations. The results confirm our hypothesis that nations undergoing IMF structural adjustment have a smaller percentage of land devoted to terrestrial protected areas than nations not undergoing structural adjustment. Neoliberal approaches that encourage privatization and deregulation ultimately impair less-developed nations’ abilities to make conservation a priority.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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