Transboundary Conservation

Beginning with my dissertation research, I have studied transboundary and large-scale conservation.  Much of this work flows directly into my research on collaborative governance and resilience, but I have focused here on topics specific to transboundary conservation.  Much of my work in this area takes place in southern Africa, and I have ties to the transboundary initiatives in Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.  I have started a collection of links to the websites of other researchers in this area as well as various governmental and non-governmental organizations that facilitated my work.  Below the links is a list of my own published and ongoing research in the area.

Relevant Links

Wonderful researchers in the area of transboundary conservation:

Rosaleen Duffy’s website

Bram Buscher’s website

Wolfram Dressler’s website

Rebecca Witter’s website

Saleem Ali’s website

Joy Hecht’s website

Here is a list of a few of the organizations involved at the international level in transboundary conservation.  In particular, the first link is the website of IUCN’s transboundary conservation specialist’s group, of which I am the vice-chair and attempt to organize the research agenda.

The websites below focus on the specific transboundary protected areas that I research.

These are other transboundary projects in different locales that are also doing interesting work.

My Published Research in this Field

See the page with all of my publications for copies, but here are the ones focused on transboundary conservation or large-scale conservation:


Schoon, Michael L. 2013. “Governance Structures in Transboundary Conservation:  How Institutional Evolution Influences Cross-Border Cooperation”, Conservation and Society (forthcoming).

Schoon, Michael L. 2012. “Governance in Southern African Transboundary Protected Areas.” In Parks, Peace, and Partnerships, edited by Michael Quinn, Len Broberg and Wayne Freimund. Calgary: University of Calgary Press.

Schoon, Michael L. 2011. “Commons Complexity and Understanding Transboundary Conservation Areas”. The Commons Digest Issue 10 edited by Alyne Delaney.

Dressler, Wolfram, Bram Buscher, Michael Schoon, Dan Brockington, Tanya Hayes, Christian Kull, James McCarthy, and Krishna Streshta.  “From Hope to Crisis and Back Again?  A Critical History of the Global CBNRM Narrative”. Environmental Conservation 37, no. 1 (2010): 1-11.

Schoon, Michael L. 2010. Governance and decision-making: Fencing in the Great Limpopo and the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Areas. In A review of the environmental, social and economic impacts of game and veterinary fencing in Africa with particular reference to the Great Limpopo and Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Areas edited by K. Ferguson and J. Hanks. Pretoria, South Africa: University of Pretoria.

Schoon, M.L. (2008). Building Robustness to Disturbance: Governance in Southern African Peace Parks. PhD thesis, Indiana University, USA.

Büscher, Bram and Michael L. Schoon.  “Competition over Conservation:  Governance, the State and Negotiating Transfrontier Conservation” Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy 12, no. 2 (2008).

Spenceley, Anna, and Michael L. Schoon. “Peace Parks as Social Ecological Systems: Testing Environmental Resilience in Southern Africa.” In Peace Parks:  Conservation and Conflict Resolution, edited by Saleem Ali. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007.

“Institutional Disturbances in Transfrontier Conservation” for the Proceedings of the Parks, Peace and Partnerships Conference, 2007.

“Do Parks Harm More Than They Help?  The Role of Peace Parks in Improving Robustness in Southern Africa”, published as a chapter in USGS Scientific Investigations Report, 2005.

Current Transboundary Research Program

Schoon, Michael L. “Types of Goods and the Scale of Effects in Transboundary Protected Areas”, 2011, for submission to the International Journal of the Commons.

“Governance Challenges of Marine and Terrestrial Wildlife for Local Communities in a Transboundary Setting”, with Martin Robards, Marine Mammal Commission, Washington, DC, for submission to Environmental Politics.

“Wicked Problems in Transfrontier Conservation”, for submission to Policy Sciences.

Beyond these specific research papers, I see my work in transboundary conservation revolving around three related research program – one continuing my dissertation work in South Africa conservation, one on other large African transboundary protected areas, and one looking at transboundary protected areas in the Arctic.

The first program, in South Africa, builds on some research ideas first elaborated in the conclusion of my dissertation.  It looks at historical land claims on current protected areas.  By looking at how local communities relate to their land and take over or source out conservation management, this research compares outcomes of both state and privately-managed protected areas and whether these areas are wholly or partially owned by communities.

The second research agenda expands on my dissertation work in transboundary conservation projects in southern Africa to look at the development of the recently created (but still work-in-progress) KAZA or Kavango-Zambezi Transboundary Conservation Area.  This protected area spans 300,000 square kilometers in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  The complexity of the governance arrangements, the social and ecological challenges of this area, and the immense potential for conservation and/or development make this a meaty set of problems to wrestle with.

The third research program, in collusion with my colleague, Martin Robards, is in early development to look at the role of indigenous people in a transboundary protected area between the US and Russia along the Bering Straits.  Stay posted for how this one develops over the next several months!!

Finally, an ongoing project uses event-history analysis to take a look at the structural reasons for when and why protected areas appear where they do around the globe.  This project is beginning to examine UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere program to look for these structural determinants.  Ultimately, we hope to conduct a similar analysis for transboundary protected areas as well.  The intent is to move beyond crediting the genesis of protected areas solely to idiosyncratic rationale.

One response to this post.

  1. Hola! I’ve been following your website for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!


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