Earth & Environment
Community participation in the governance of protected areas: Sharing lessons across Africa to inform establishment of a transboundary biosphere reserve
Protected areas are an important tool to conserve biodiversity globally. However, they change the way people use the environment, and can cause negative impacts on local communities whose resource use activities are curtailed. Research by Leeds PhD students in Zimbabwe and Madagascar characterised the sorts of local stakeholder participation needed from the start of protected area creation, reducing potential negative impacts and creating positive effects. This project works with The Platform of Civil Society Organisations for the Safeguard of Mountains (PSM) in a partnership that shares and uses these research findings to establish a new transboundary biosphere reserve across Ghana and Togo. Lessons from our research will deliver impact such that local communities are able to gain meaningful participation in the establishment, management and governance of this new protected area. We will work with PSM through meetings and workshops to share our research findings on how local communities can participate, and why this is important. PSM are also keen to develop a programme of new research on the protected area establishment process, which combines social science research with ecological research to ensure the long-term sustainability of the protected area whilst empowering local communities, creating benefits and opportunities for them.