Poverty and ecosystem Impacts of payment for wildlife conservation initiatives in Africa: Tanzania's Wildlife Management Areas (PIMA)
Rural people across the global South are caught between competing land demands for large-scale cultivation and global environmental conservation, and local needs. Theory holds these can be integrated locally through community-based natural resource management and payments for ecosystem services: where communities can decide on and benefit directly from natural resources, they may invest in and manage those resources in ways that are more socially and environmentally sustainable. Such initiatives are being rolled out across the global South, but there are conflicting views as to how well they work, for whom and under what circumstances.
The Poverty and ecosystem Impacts of payment for wildlife conservation initiatives in Africa (PIMA) project seized a unique policy moment, with Tanzania's poverty reduction strategy, Mkukuta, driving nationwide implementation of community-based natural resource management/ payments for ecosystem services-based Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), and other countries in the region considering comparable initiatives.
The Wildlife Management Areas comprise different ecosystems, socio-political structures, and a broad range of ecosystem services. Comparing the social and ecological outcomes for communities before and after Wildlife Management Areas are established and for people inside and outside the areas’ boundaries (within the same ecosystems) offered the team an ideal opportunity for rigorous impact evaluation.
The project's framework and approach created opportunities for grassroots natural resource users to articulate their experiences to policy-makers and practitioners. They were able to voice how ecosystem services have changed in quality and quantity, and how these changes have affected their poverty and wellbeing.
Establishing what works, why and for whom are of use not only to the one million rural people directly affected by Wildlife Management Areas, but deliver insights and best practice lessons that can be generalised to the many millions more whose livelihoods and wellbeing are changed by comparable community based natural resource management and payments for ecosystem services initiatives.
The Poverty and ecosystem Impacts of payment for wildlife conservation initiatives in Africa project's findings are of use locally to rural people making collective and individual resource use decisions, through national levels, to international donors deciding how to invest scarce resources for maintaining ecosystem services and achieving poverty alleviation. Key academic findings of the project comprise:
- The Wildlife Management Areas studies are very variable environments, and the 7-year period from their inception to the project review is insufficient to show clear directional changes in habitat or biodiversity ecosystem services.
- The frequency of consumption of domestic animals and bushmeat taken together is not significantly affected by the presence of a Wildlife Management Area. But, when the two types of meat are considered separately, northern Areas exert a significant positive effect on frequency of bushmeat consumption, and southern Areas a significant negative effect.
- Wildlife Management Areas were found to adversely impact women's access to resources, ability to use those resources, and the significance of that access and use to women as individuals and as members of society.
- Wildlife Management Area governance is characterised by a lack of meaningful inclusion and participation in relevant decision-making processes pertaining to their establishment, design, and management.