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Lessons about parks and poverty from a decade of forest loss and economic growth around Kibale National Park, Uganda

By Lisa Naughton-Treves, Jennifer Alix-Garcia and Colin A. Chapman


We use field data linked to satellite image analysis to examine the relationship between biodiversity loss, deforestation, and poverty around Kibale National Park (KNP) in western Uganda, 1996–2006. Over this decade, KNP generally maintained forest cover, tree species, and primate populations, whereas neighboring communal forest patches were reduced by half and showed substantial declines in tree species and primate populations. However, a bad decade for forest outside the park proved a prosperous one for most local residents. Panel data for 252 households show substantial improvement in welfare indicators (e.g., safer water, more durable roof material), with the greatest increases found among those with highest initial assets. A combination of regression analysis and matching estimators shows that although the poor tend to be located on the park perimeter, proximity to the park has no measureable effect on growth of productive assets. The risk for land loss among the poor was inversely correlated with proximity to the park, initial farm size, and decline in adjacent communal forests. We conclude the current disproportionate presence of poor households at the edge of the park does not signal that the park is a poverty trap. Rather, Kibale appears to provide protection against desperation sales and farm loss among those most vulnerable

Topics: Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Traps Special Feature
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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