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

  • Sarah Tolbert (a1) (a2), Wellard Makambo (a3), Stephen Asuma (a3), Altor Musema (a3) and Benjamin Mugabukomeye (a3)...


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.


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Author for correspondence: Sarah Tolbert, Email:


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