skip to main content

Title: Community livelihoods and forest dependency: Tourism contribution in Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda
Introduction Communities living adjacent to protected areas in Africa are characterized by high poverty rates and their well-being often depends on park resources. This often results in forest degradation and decline in wildlife populations, for example due to illegal hunting for bush meat. To counter this challenge in Rwanda, a tourism revenue sharing program was initiated in 2005, with 5% (doubled to 10% in 2017) of the park gate fees invested in community development projects. We evaluated the effectiveness of this tourism revenue sharing from 2005 to 2017, targeting communities adjacent to Nyungwe National Park located in south-western Rwanda. Methods We used questionnaires addressed to members of community associations and local government in 24 sectors around Nyungwe National Park. Additionally, data on illegal resource use and socio-economic status of the surrounding communities were obtained to quantitatively triangulate and draw insights from communities’perceptions. Using spatial analyses and spatial regression, we mapped trends in illegal activities relative to socio-economic characteristics. Results and discussion Both the qualitative and quantitative results indicate that the tourism revenue sharing program has not fully succeeded in improving community well-being around Nyungwe National Park. The tourism revenue sharing can consider targeting areas that demonstrate more need and reassessing prioritization of interventions supported by the program to achieve both poverty reduction around Nyungwe National Park and improved conservation outcomes in this protected area.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Conservation Science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Coastal communities are among the most rapidly changing, institutionally complex, and culturally diverse in the world, and they are among the most vulnerable to anthropogenic change. While being a driver of anthropogenic change, tourism can also provide socio-economic alternatives to declining natural resource-based livelihoods for coastal residents. The purpose of this study is to assess the impact of small-scale cruise tourism on coastal community resiliency in Petersburg, Alaska. Exploring these impacts through resiliency theory’s lens of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity, we employed ethnographic research methods that emphasize emic viewpoints to determine how residents see this form of tourism affecting the resiliency of valued community culture, institutions, and traditional livelihoods. Findings indicate that with purposeful engagement in niche cruise tourism involving boats with 250 passengers or less, and an active rejection of the large cruise ship industry, Petersburg exhibits increased adaptive capacity to promote the resilience of valued community institutions and heritage. This work draws needed recognition to the diversity of activities that fall under the label of cruise tourism, including the distinct implications of smaller-scale, niche cruise tourism for the resilience of coastal communities. It also highlights the need to capture emic perspectives to understand the politics of community resiliency. 
    more » « less
  2. Illegal activities pose challenges to the conservation of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) across the Virunga Landscape (VL). This paper investigates the relationship between household livelihood security (HLS) and the perceived prevalence of illegal activities across the VL. Results from a survey of 223 residents of areas adjacent to the VL in Uganda and Rwanda reveal varied links between human livelihoods and illegal activities threatening wildlife. For example, while poaching appears to be negatively associated with health and financial security among residents, it is positively associated with education security, indicating that education may be contributing to illegal activities threatening wildlife. Food security constraints were also found to be significantly associated with poaching. Finally, findings suggest that although HLS investments are essential in improving local community livelihoods, only food and financial security are the most effective means of reducing illegal activities in Virunga. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Parks are essential for protecting biodiversity and finding ways to improve park effectiveness is an important topic. We contributed to this debate by examining spatial and temporal changes in illegal activities in Kibale National Park, Uganda between 2006 and 2016 and used existing data to evaluate how the changes were correlated with the living conditions of people in neighboring communities, as well as patrolling effort. We explore the effectiveness of conservation strategies implemented in Kibale, by quantifying changes in the abundance of nine animal species over two to five decades. While uncertainty in such animal survey data are inherently large and it is hard to generalize across a 795‐km2area that encompasses diverse habitat types, data suggest an increase in animal abundance in the National Park. An increase in patrolling effort by park guards over the decade was correlated with a decline in the number of traps and snares found, which suggests patrolling helped limit resource extraction from the park. The park’s edge was extensively used for illegal forest product extraction, while the setting of snares occurred more often deeper in the forest. Perhaps counter‐intuitively, increased community wealth or park‐related employment in a village next to the park were positively correlated with increased illegal forest product extraction. Overall, our results suggest that the portfolio of conservation strategies used over the last two to five decades were effective for protecting the park and its animals, although understanding the impact of these efforts on local human populations and how to mitigate any losses and suffering they sustain remains an important area of research and action. It is evident that complex social, political and economic drivers impact conservation success and more interdisciplinary studies are required to quantify and qualify these dimensions.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract Although economic sociology emphasizes the role of social networks for shaping economic action, little research has examined how network governance structures affect prices in the unregulated and high-risk social context of online criminal trade. We consider how overembeddedness—a state of excessive interconnectedness among market actors—arises from endogenous trade relations to shape prices in illegal online markets with aggregate consequences for short-term gross illegal revenue. Drawing on transaction-level data on 16 847 illegal drug transactions over 14 months of trade in a ‘darknet’ drug market, we assess how repeated exchanges and closure in buyer–vendor trade networks nonlinearly influence prices and short-term gross revenue from illegal drug trade. Using a series of panel models, we find that increases in closure and repeated exchange raise prices until a threshold is reached upon which prices and gross monthly revenue begin to decline as networks become overembedded. Findings provide insight into the network determinants of prices and gross monthly revenue in illegal online drug trade and illustrate how network structure shapes prices in criminal markets, even in anonymous trade environments. 
    more » « less
  5. Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a severe problem in the U.S. and worldwide. Best management practices (BMPs) have been widely used to control stormwater and reduce NPS pollution. Previous research has shown that socio-economic factors affect households’ adoption of BMPs, but few studies have quantitatively analyzed the spatio-temporal dynamics of household BMP adoption under different socio-economic conditions. In this paper, diverse regression approaches (linear, LASSO, support vector, random forest) were used on the ten-year data of household BMP adoption in socio-economically diverse areas of Washington, D.C., to model BMP adoption behaviors. The model with the best performance (random forest regression, R2 = 0.67, PBIAS = 7.2) was used to simulate spatio-temporal patterns of household BMP adoption in two nearby watersheds (Watts Branch watershed between Washington, D.C., and Maryland; Watershed 263 in Baltimore), each of which are characterized by different socio-economic (population density, median household income, renter rate, average area per household, etc.) and physical attributes (total area, percentage of canopy in residential area, average distance to nearest BMPs, etc.). The BMP adoption rate was considerably higher at the Watts Branch watershed (14 BMPs per 1000 housing units) than at Watershed 263 (4 BMPs per 1000 housing units) due to distinct differences in the watershed characteristics (lower renter rate and poverty rate; higher median household income, education level, and canopy rate in residential areas). This research shows that adoption behavior tends to cluster in urban areas across socio-economic boundaries and that targeted, community-specific social interventions are needed to reach the NPS control goal. 
    more » « less