Protected area staff and local community viewpoints: A qualitative assessment of conservation relationships in ZimbabweReport as inadecuate

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With the increase in illegal resource harvesting in most protected areas PAs, the need to understand the determinants and relationships between PAs and local communities to enhance wildlife conservation is increasingly becoming important. Using focus group discussions and interviews, we established the determinants of PA staff-community relationship from both PA staff and local communities’ viewpoints, and assessedperceptions of their relationship with each other. The study was guided by the following main research question, ‘What is the nature of the relationship between PA staff and local communities and what are the main factors influencing the relationship?’ Data were collected through focus group discussions and interviews from four PAs and their adjacent communities in Zimbabwe between July 2013 and February 2014. Our results showed that a total of seven determinants were identified as influencing PA staff-community relationship, i.e., benefit-sharing, human-wildlife conflict, compensation for losses from wildlife attacks, communication between PA staff and local communities, community participation in the management of CAMPFIRE projects, lack of community participation in tourism in PAs, and community perceptions of PA staff or PA staff perceptions of the community. Of the seven, only one determinant, benefit-sharing, was recorded as the main factor that differentially influencesthe perceptions of community and PA staff on their relationship. Furthermore, both the communities and PA staff reported mixed perceptions on their relationship with each other. We conclude that both communities’ and PA staff’s views on determinants are largely similar in all studied PAs irrespective of PA ownership, management and-or land use. Our findings could be relevant in policy making especially in developing countries in developing PA-community relationship framework in natural resource conservation.

Author: Chiedza Ngonidzashe Mutanga , Never Muboko, Edson Gandiwa



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