Perceptions of risk in communities near parks in an African biodiversity hotspot
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- Hartter, J., Dowhaniuk, N., MacKenzie, C.A. et al. Ambio (2016) 45: 692. doi:10.1007/s13280-016-0775-8
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Understanding conservation and livelihood threats in park landscapes is important to informing conservation policy. To identify threats, we examined perceived risks of residents living near three national parks in Uganda. We used cross-sectional household data to document, rank, and measure severity of perceived risks. Three risk categories, grouped into protected area, climate, and health, were cited by 80 % of respondents and received the highest severity scores. Elevation, proximity to the park, local forest loss, recent population change, and measures of poverty were the most important variables in predicting whether or not an individual identified these risks as the most or second most severe risk. Health issues were cited throughout the landscape, while problems attributed to climate (mainly insufficient rainfall) were reported to be most severe farther from the park. Increased population density was associated with increased perceived risk of health challenges, but decreased perceived risks attributed to the park and climate. Participatory risk mapping provides the opportunity to make standardized comparisons across sites, to help identify commonalities and differences, as a first step to examining the degree to which conservation management might address some of these local challenges and where mitigation techniques might be transferable between different sites or conflict scenarios.