This article reviews narratives and trends in biodiversity conservation and protected area (PA) management and examines contestations within
and among them in the light of developments within the global political economy.
Its argument starts with the assumption that trends in biodiversity conservation
and PA management are, in large part, determined by global political and economic developments. The global political economy determines
how both policy issues inherent to the conservation and development debate need to continuously be re-operationalised in order to remain politically acceptable. This argument is used to identify three recent trends in conservation, which we have termed ‘neoliberal conservation’, ‘bioregional conservation’ and ‘hijacked conservation’. By illustrating these trends with empirical data from eastern and southern Africa, we aim to enhance the understanding and appreciation of macrosocial, economic and political dynamics both constraints and opportunities that impinge on conservation and development. In turn, this understanding could contribute to a better ‘manoeuvrability’
for the management and success of more technical initiatives that aim to improve conservation of biodiversity and PA management.