Conference to reveal links between conservation and land grabs

News, 21 March 2013
Researchers will meet at London Zoo on 26-27 March to join the dots between large land deals, conservation, land rights and efforts to tackle poverty in poor communities worldwide.

Zebras graze near a forest in Namibia.

Speakers will present research on both impacts of land grabs on conservation and its reverse – the role of conservation as a driver of land grabs. They will also share studies that show how stronger land rights can improve conservation outcomes.

The issues are burning because worldwide large land deals are on the increase, and they often take place in areas that are home to both large numbers of poor people and important biodiversity. People and wildlife can lose out when investors acquire land for large scale agriculture.

At the same time, there are growing threats from ‘green grabs’ that displace communities in order to conserve wildlife or gain value from eco-tourism, biofuels or the carbon that forests store in their wood.

The meeting in London — organised by the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Land Coalition, the Zoological Society of London and Maliasili Initiatives — is the international symposium of the Poverty and Conservation Learning Group.

Speakers will present case studies from Cameroon, Uganda, Chile, Kenya, Mongolia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Liberia and Cambodia.

"The global rush for land threatens to squeeze out both poor communities with weak land rights, and wild species and habitats that we should be conserving," says Dilys Roe, a senior researcher at IIED, which convenes the Poverty and Conservation Learning Group. "It is in the interests of both the conservation and land rights communities to tackle the land rush. One solution is for them to work more strategically together to secure or strengthen local land rights in ways that bring both conservation and development benefits."

"Secure land tenure is a foundation of community-driven conservation efforts around the world," says Fred Nelson, Executive Director of Maliasili Initiatives, which supports sustainable natural resource management efforts in Africa. "The current land crisis provides an opportunity for conservation, development, and human rights groups to work together to address historically-rooted weaknesses in the recognition of local communities’ land rights, and to enable communities to better secure their territories and the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend."

Download the conference agenda.


Contacts for interviews

Dilys Roe (

Fred Nelson (

Notes to editors

The project is funded by UK aid from the UK Government, however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the UK Government.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent, non-profit research institute. Set up in 1971 and based in London, IIED provides expertise and leadership in researching and achieving sustainable development (see:

The Poverty and Conservation Learning Group (PCLG) is a multi-stakeholder forum, coordinated by IIED, for promoting dialogue and fostering learning on the links between biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. The Learning Group was established in 2004 in response to a number of perceived problems:

  • An ongoing divide between conservation and development practitioners and policy makers on how - and whether - to link biodiversity conservation with poverty reduction so that poverty reduction policy better reflects biodiversity concerns and conservation policy pays greater attention to issues of poverty and social justice;
  • The potential duplication of effort by a number of different organisations that are trying to strengthen this linkage but are currently grappling independently with the issues and not learning from each other;
  • The lack of an established forum through which participants from a range of backgrounds can participate on an equal footing to share and analyse emerging experience in conservation-poverty linkages and identify knowledge gaps and research needs.

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