Are Central Africa's Protected Areas Displacing Hundreds of Thousands of Rural Poor?
Bryan Curran1, Terry Sunderland2, Fiona Maisels1, John Oates3, Stella Asaha4, Michael Balinga4, Louis Defo5, Andrew Dunn1, Paul Telfer1, Leonard Usongo5, Karin von Loebenstein6, Philipp Roth6
1 The Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10460, USA
2 Forests and Livelihoods Programme, Centre for International Forestry Research, PO Box 0113 BOBCD, Bogor 16000, Indonesia
3 Hunter College, 695 Park Ave, New York, NY 10065, USA; Oxford Brookes University, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK
4 Forests, Resources and People (FOREP), Cameroon
5 World Wildlife Fund CARPO, Immeuble Panda Route "La Citronelle" B.A.T. Compound, Yaounde, Cameroon
6 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Postfach 5180, 65726 Eschborn, Germany
The Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10460
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
An ongoing debate over the impacts of protected areas on rural communities in central Africa has become increasingly polarized in recent years, even as definitions of displacement have shifted from outright expulsion to economic dislocation precipitated by lost access to natural resources. Although forcible removal of communities to make way for the creation of National Parks has certainly occurred in the past in some parts of the world, we contend that not a single individual has been physically removed from any of the protected areas created in central Africa over the past decade, despite claims to the contrary of hundreds of thousands of "conservation refugees." Furthermore, we recognize that a scarcity of data precludes impartial evaluation of the potential impacts of economic displacement of local communities living adjacent to protected areas, and we call for a concerted effort by conservationists and the social scientists who criticize conservation efforts, in order to measure the effects of protected areas on livelihoods, and to work towards a more socially responsible conservation paradigm.