Can biodiversity conservation benefit local people? Costs and benefits at a strict protected Area in Uganda
Tumusiime, David Mwesigye
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This article examines the livelihoods and experiences of local people after two decades of living close to a strict protected area (PA). A total of 290 local PA neighbors and 60 key informants were interviewed. Findings reveal a limited access to assets and low incomes. An average PA neighbor earns US$0.5 per adult equivalent unit (AEU)/day. PA proximity is associated with lower incomes, mainly because of wildlife damages that cost an average household (HH) up to 10% of its annual income. Other recurrent PA costs include the “invisible” costs incurred to cope with crop raiding, and restricted access to PA resources, that jointly amount to 16% of an average HH’s annual income. PA benefits include the sharing of tourism revenues, integrated conservation and development projects, and park-related employment. In total, benefits constitute 3.5% of the total annual income of an average HH, a figure higher than the contribution of other PAs in Uganda. However, overall, an average HH accrues a net annual loss of 12.5% of its total income or a total loss of US$1.54 million for the 1,1875 HHs, yet the park sends up to US$7 million to the central treasury. This highlights the need for policy revisions of the political economy of PA management.