Strengthening research efforts to understand the combined impacts of conservation and livelihoods in protected areas (PAs) will increase the collective contribution that PAs can make towards meeting global goals for sustainable development in the next decade. As an example of such efforts, in 2014 the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) jointly initiated the “Sustainable Management of Protected Areas in East Africa” project. This paper provides a brief overview of the project’s research background, goals and research tasks. The study is based on a look at the PA management system in East Africa and a review of the literature on the impact of PAs in the region. Results show that East African nations have expanded the coverage of PAs and established a complex set of PA management systems over the past century. The mandate for PAs in East African nations has changed recently from protecting biodiversity to alleviating poverty and supporting livelihoods. However, a combination of human activities and ecological processes inside and outside of PAs may not only impact biodiversity and ecosystem function over the long term, but also pose a threat to the capacity of PAs to maintain livelihoods and alleviate poverty in the local communities around them. The state of existing research in the field suggests there is an enormous need for additional research, the purpose of which is to help PA managers and policy-makers in East Africa understand how to achieve win-win outcomes for both ecosystems and human well-being. Against this background, the CAS-KWS-UN Environment joint research project aims to understand the dynamic interactions between ecosystems and human well-being around PAs in East Africa and identify good practices for PA management to reconcile conservation targets with the livelihood demands of local communities. It is intended that this research be shared with interested parties throughout the developing world. Significant progress has been made in the implementation of the project, in terms of data collection, exchanges of researchers, and the completion of case studies. In the coming year, success stories and examples of failures of PA management in the region will be systematically summarized and shared among scientists, managers and decision makers worldwide. Given its blueprint for building a “Beautiful China”, China can both supplement and benefit from East African knowledge and experience of PA management. This joint research effort promotes Sino-African cooperation on PA research and management.
Journal of Resources and Ecology
Vol. 9 • No. 3
Vol. 9 • No. 3