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When Protected Areas Provide Life And Ensure Development: Myth Or Reality?

Description: 

To ensure the balance between development and conservation, government at national and local levels, businesses and local population must develop and implement suitable tools including policies, guidelines and plans. The development of these tools must be participatory for all stakeholders to own and use them efficiently. The value of PAs must be ascertained and incorporated into these tools in order to make wise trade-offs between conservation and development. Knowing the economic value of natural resources is among the key steps to sensitize people on their importance and to arouse among them the preservation and the rational exploitation of this wealth while considering the required compensations if needed. Thus, it is important: (1) to know short, mid and long economic value of the protected areas and natural resources; their value according to local use/to exploitation, their long term value if they are maintained. In both case, the assessment must consider the advantages and drawbacks of the option. (2) To integrate conservation and development through direct activities linked to conservation (ecotourism, handcraft,..) , through the synergy between conservation and development programs

Problem, challenge or context: 

Madagascar, hosts 1/20th of the world biodiversity and has a high rate of endemism (more than 70%) that has led to classify this island among the 34-biodiversity hotspots in the world. However, this biodiversity is frightened by different pressures mainly driven by poverty: slash and burn culture, poaching, small scale mining, wood fuel and charcoal production. Initiatives aiming at integrating conservation and development are already emerging around some protected areas of Madagascar. In the Eastern part of the island, the people living around the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park have created schools and increased the area of rice plots thanks to the 50% of entrances fees that Madagascar National Park allocated to them. In Makira New Protected Area, the Wildlife Conservation Society in partnership with the Fondation Tany Meva has implemented a “green belt” around the park in order to preserve the integrity of the park while improving the livelihood of local communities. In the current Malagasy context where development of tourism is still fragile, and the benefit coming out of the carbon market still uncertain, the main challenge is to find the suitable way to upscale the above-mentioned achievements so as to cover Madagascar’s 6 million Ha of Protected Areas. Meanwhile this would help reducing the number of people living in poverty (currently more than 75% of Malagasy people) and malnutrition as well as increasing access to drinking water and electricity.

Specific elements of components: 
Considering short, mid and long term value of natural resources to support decision making
While assessing the economic value of natural resources, it is important to compare their short term value if they are used and destroyed with their long term value if they are maintained. In both cases, the assessment has to consider the advantages and drawbacks of each option regarding social aspects (health, education), environmental aspects (ecosystem services that the natural resources provide such as water supply) and economic aspects (income, employment, agriculture).
 
Madagascar’s natural capital should be considered as “economic wealth”
Its biodiversity is certainly one of the main incentives for people to travel in Madagascar. Nature-based tourism, and in particular in protected areas, is a leading sector in Madagascar , which generated around USD 6 million in 2010. However, on the other hand, the degradation of the natural resource has cost USD 450 to 500 million per year. In order to consider natural resource as part of a country’s wealth, one key step is to “value” the natural resource and to include it in the national accounting. This accounting will thus help choosing, in each case, which is the best option between conservation and development (with the required compensation if needed). Identifying the stakeholders to be involved in the conservation and development programs is key as they have an important role to play in defining the suitable measures to implement in terms of policy, regulation and strategy. 
 
Tools to sensitize stakeholders on the importance of natural resources for their own development
Assessing the economic value of natural resources is one of the key steps to sensitize people on the importance of preserving them or at least rationally exploit this wealth while considering the required compensations if needed. The economic value of natural resources can feed a strong argumentation in order to convince targeted audiences to get involved in initiatives combining conservation and development: local communities, authorities, private sectors, donors and decision makers,. Therefore, it is important to make sure that all the stakeholders have access to these data and that they can understand and use them adequately.
 
Pragmatic and replicable method
Pragmatism: The assessment of the value of natural resource is always based on real facts. Indeed the population living around parks and the private companies are already exploiting natural resources with regards to their own objectives: exploitation for subsistence or for commercial use, whether this exploitation is sustainable or not. However, even though scientific knowledge and tools for economic assessment of natural resources exist, they are rarely used. That is the reason why it is important to disseminate those tools dedicated to assess the economic value of natural resources. Maintaining the natural resource leads to conserving its ecosystem services that improve the well-being and livelihood of people living around the resources: global water supply (for irrigation as well as for consumption), alleviation of risk and disaster, food supply (beekeeping, responsible fishery,…), carbon sequestration which credit will support development activities in the vicinity of the protected areas (…) 
 
Replicable and adaptable: The value of natural resources for local population is different depending on each location, or each country, but the aim of their exploitation remains the same: for subsistence or for profit. Tools for economic assessment are the same (i.e the System of Environmental Economic Accounting established by the United Nations) and can be applied in different countries. Moreover, these tools apply to every type of governance of protected areas.
Key lessons learned: 

One key element that impacts the success of this approach is the involvement of the surrounding population of the parks into the economic assessment process of the natural resource, so that they can take part to the analysis of the projects to be developed in the future. Indeed, those projects must also consider the specificities of the local context (social, economic, environmental) and the needs of the local population (technical needs, capacity building, and financial support). The use of a value chain approach is an option that can be considered so as to achieve the expected objectives. In the context of extreme poverty, environmental/conservation issues are relegated in the background. There is a need to “value” natural resources in order to qualify them as “economic wealth”. Therefore, their integration in public finance may be one of the solutions to reinforce citizen commitment: for local population, to authorities and private sectors.

Impacts and outcomes: 
Synergy between development and conservation programs
Conservation and development projects exist but the synergy between both sectors needs to be reinforced. That is why some concerned sites in Madagascar have already applied this approach even at small scale : part of the entrance fees in Andasibe National Park has been allocated as a leverage funds to support development projects for the surrounding villages : building schools, protecting watershed to improve rice production. These projects have been co-funded by the development fund from the World Bank.
 
Improving local livelihood
Thanks to the Microfinance Institute that Fondation Tany Meva has implemented in Ambinanitelo, Makira New Protected Area, local communities involved in the “green belt” have access to funding to support their development environmental friendly activities: handcraft mainly for women association, improved agriculture and other income generating activities. Note that prior to accessing to the funding, the projects must be approved by the Wildlife Conservation Society – the park manager, to ensure that the projects/activities help preserving the conservation while improving household’s livelihood.
Contact details: 
Ravaka Ranaivoson
Country: 
Language: 
English
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