TRY Oyster Women’s Association empowers a highly marginalized and economically vulnerable segment of Gambian society. The Association is an established group of 500 female oyster harvesters, with organized leadership, from 15 villages in the Greater Banjul area of The Gambia. It is creating positive change and economic transformation in local villages. Rather than struggling individually, as they once did, women harvesters are now part of a flourishing and widely recognized local enterprise.
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We will highlight experiences doing research in the Makira Natural Park, northeastern Madagascar that investigated the ecosystem provisioning service value of wildlife as food and botanical ethnomedicines. Understanding the monetary value of faunal and floral biodiversity in this region may help to understand the local conservation psychology and what motivates people to harvest beyond the limits of sustainability. Specifically, our results provide an estimate of the cost of offsetting economic losses to local populations from the enforcement of conservation policies.
Integrating local residents – especially poor households, indigenous communities and women – into the protected area economies of the developing world via concessions compensates for losses, alleviates poverty, drives local economic development and builds conservation incentives. Integrating locals is important not only as a principle of natural justice but also on pragmatic grounds.
The ongoing project “Incorporation of Sacred Forests into the Protected Areas System of Benin,” supported by UNDP and financed by GEF, preserves tracts of forest with religious and ecological significance in Benin. These sacred forests are at high risk, and the recent addition of Sacred Forest as a category of Benin’s protected areas legislation paves the way for greater protection of the forests included in the project scope as well as other forests around the country.