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Journal article

Local costs of conservation exceed those borne by the global majority

This paper describes the application of a spatial model to demonstrate the scale of costs and benefits arising from conservation practice in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania.

Jonathan Green / Published on 18 April 2018

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Green, J. M. H., Fisher, B., Green, R. E., Makero, J., Platts, P. J., Robert, N., Schaafsma, M., Turner, R. K. and Balmford, A. (2018). Local costs of conservation exceed those borne by the global majority. Global Ecology and Conservation, 14. e00385

Photo of Usambara Mountains in Tanzania - By Deogratiusf2 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Conservation interventions for the global good versus the costs to local livelihoods and welfare. An example from the Eastern Arc mountains in Tanzania. By Deogratiusf2 [CC BY-SA 4.0)rom Wikimedia Commons.

Cost data are crucial in conservation planning to identify more efficient and equitable land use options. However, many studies focus on just one cost type and neglect others, particularly those borne locally. The authors develop, for a high priority conservation area, spatial models of two local costs that arise from protected areas: foregone agricultural opportunities and increased wildlife damage. They then map these across the study area and compare them to the direct costs of reserve management, finding that local costs exceed management costs. Whilst benefits of conservation accrue to the global community, significant costs are borne by those living closest. Where livelihoods depend upon opportunities forgone or diminished by conservation intervention, outcomes are limited. Activities can be displaced (leakage); rules can be broken (intervention does not work); or the intervention forces a shift in livelihood profiles (potentially to the detriment of local peoples’ welfare). These raise concerns for both conservation and development outcomes and timely consideration of local costs is vital in conservation planning tools and processes.


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Jonathan Green

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