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Protected areas, household environmental incomes and well-being in the Greater Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem

Jiao, Xi, Walelign, Solomon Zena, Nielsen, Martin Reinhardt, Smith-Hall, Carsten
Forest policy and economics 2019 v.106 pp. 101948
conservation areas, ecosystems, education, habitats, household surveys, households, humans, income, issues and policy, livelihood, Kenya, Tanzania
Protected areas are an important cornerstone in the attempt to halt habitat and species losses. While it is widely recognized that local communities impact on conservation outcomes, there is a limited understanding of the economic importance of environmental resources in protected areas to local household incomes and well-being. This inhibits the development and implementation of efficient conservation policies. This paper, using the iconic case of the Greater Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem and its surrounding local communities in Tanzania and Kenya, quantifies the household-level economic importance of this protected area. Data was collected using well-being and environmentally augmented structured household surveys administered to 985 randomly selected households in 25 communities. Results documented high reliance on environmental income of the poorest, a negative relationship between environmental reliance and well-being, with households closer to the protected area having higher environmental reliance and lower well-being. Hence, degradation of protected area habitats will negatively and disproportionately affect the income and may further reduce the well-being of the poorest households. Sustainable protected area management must address human well-being as well as conservation objectives. Increasing access to education and building skills to promote alternative non-environmental based livelihood activities will promote both conservation and development objectives.