Community Building: An Integrated Approach to Horseshoe Crab Conservation
Throughout the world, many marine species that come to shore to breed face increased risks from human activity, ranging from coastal development, pollution, and human-induced erosion to the harvesting of individual animals at a time when they are most vulnerable.
The regulatory process can mitigate a portion of this risk, but it is difficult to regulate human behavior, particularly when those being regulated are not in agreement over the necessity of such regulations and when such regulations are perceived to interfere with economic growth or individuals’ livelihoods. In addition, the regulatory process often alienates the very communities that are most able to assist in the stewardship of the natural resource.
From its inception in 1995, the Ecological Research and Development Group (ERDG) has recognized the importance of building an engaged community to achieve wildlife conservation. An engaged community, if given the chance, will far surpass the unimaginative “conservation through regulation” approach. An engaged community is more aware of the changes in the environment; is in the best position to educate neighbors and visitors; and is more likely to assist stranded or injured animals, help with scientific analysis, shape public opinion, and report infractions of regulatory statutes.
This chapter describes the tools and strategies ERDG has developed to promote the conservation of the world’s four horseshoe crab species at a community level. These tools can be adapted to other situations around the world to help to develop community-based conservation initiatives that engender a spirit of cooperation and inclusion.
KeywordsHorseshoe Crab Coastal Community Neighboring Community Broad Coalition Shared Habitat
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