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The Perceived Benefits of Protected Areas in the Virunga-bwindi Massif

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2018

Sarah Tolbert*
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT06511, USA Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, New Haven, CT06520, USA
Wellard Makambo
International Gorilla Conservation Programme, a coalition programme of Fauna & Flora International and WWF
Stephen Asuma
International Gorilla Conservation Programme, a coalition programme of Fauna & Flora International and WWF
Altor Musema
International Gorilla Conservation Programme, a coalition programme of Fauna & Flora International and WWF
Benjamin Mugabukomeye
International Gorilla Conservation Programme, a coalition programme of Fauna & Flora International and WWF
Author for correspondence: Sarah Tolbert, Email:


Despite decades of continuous research highlighting the biological success of mountain gorilla conservation in the Virunga-Bwindi Massif, there is little knowledge of whether people living near the mountain gorilla parks perceive benefits from protected areas (PAs). This paper is the first study in the region to use the sustainable livelihoods framework to understand drivers of local perceptions of PA benefits. We used a logit regression to examine the relationship between household socioeconomic characteristics and the costs and benefits that 752 men and women living near mountain gorilla PAs reported. Integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs) in the Virunga-Bwindi Massif have improved perceptions of mountain gorilla PAs, but they need to prioritize projects that improve human and social capital. The frustration voiced about inequitable benefit distribution highlights the need for further social equity research to ensure ICDPs, including revenue-sharing schemes, are managed transparently and equitably.

Non-Thematic Papers
© Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2018 

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