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A community perspective on participatory conservation in western Tanzania

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Local participation is a key component of sound management of protected areas. The starting point for achieving this goal is to establish factors influencing it. In the Ugalla ecosystem of western Tanzania, the government in collaboration with other conservation organisations has initiated efforts to engage local people in conservation. However, the area is under increasing pressure especially from local livelihood activities and exploitation of natural resources. This study used focus group discussions and key informants to explore factors that would promote local engagement in conservation. Fifty-two activities were mentioned and ranked in terms of their effectiveness in reducing illegal use of natural resources. Improving household-level livelihoods ranked highest, followed by improving subsistence agriculture and stopping game rangers from harassing villagers. Reducing land use conflicts between local people and conservation authorities was also commonly mentioned. Capacity building and alternative sources of livelihood cannot be overstated. Additionally, Ugalla should be managed appropriately and transparently, and used effectively to improve participatory conservation. Overall, local communities were interested in a participatory conservation that would strike a fair balance between the improvement of their living standards and the conservation of natural resources. Further, research should include household interviews to reveal household level factors that affect participation in conservation.

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This study was funded through a Rufford small grant. I am very grateful to Urambo, Kaliua, Sikonge (Tabora Region) and Nsimbo (Katavi Region) districts for permissions to conduct research in rural areas. E.J. Milner-Gulland advised on focus groups.

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Correspondence to Paulo Wilfred.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Wilfred, P. A community perspective on participatory conservation in western Tanzania. Eur J Wildl Res 63, 56 (2017).

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