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Participatory vulnerability assessment in the context of conservation and development projects: A case study of local communities in Southwest Cameroon

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  • Nathalie van Vliet
People living in landscapes of high conservation value are trapped between their dependence
on natural resources to meet their development aspirations and the international pressure to conserve those
resources. Although it is increasingly recognized that the conservation of some natural resources cannot
happen without providing alternative livelihood solutions for local communities dependent on them, global
experiences illustrate that the successful integration of conservation and development continues to be
elusive. We adapted the approach based on “participatory vulnerability assessments” developed for climate
change research and applied it to changes occurring in a conservation and development context. As a case
study, we focused on a biodiversity hotspot in Southwest Cameroon that was recently designated a national
park. We have shown that local communities believe their livelihood options will be reduced by the creation
of the national park. Compensation measures such as ongoing community development plans are not yet
impacting local livelihoods. Their success will only be measurable in the long term, whereas the restriction
in access to the national park is already in effect. Meanwhile, new roads, and attractive prices for cash
crops including cocoa, have created the opportunity for alternative sources of income that could have
substantial impacts on smallholders as well as for conservation. The aim of this work was to identify risks
and opportunities associated with conservation and development as a first step in improving decision
making. Project activities are not implemented in isolation from the global context and are therefore not
the only drivers of adaptation for local communities. One of our main findings is that new external stimuli,
such as markets, may be highly influential, potentially undermining conservation and development efforts
if not addressed in a properly designed adaptive process.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftEcology and Society
Vol/bind15
Udgave nummer2
Antal sider12
ISSN1708-3087
StatusUdgivet - 2010

Bibliografisk note

Article 6

ID: 32438411