Reconciling the twin goals of biodiversity conservation and restoration, and poverty reduction is difficult. A number of factors seem to influence effectiveness across intervention types including context, intervention design, governance and management quality, community engagement and participation, and intervention or programme length. This report largely focuses on outcomes from protected areas, payments for ecosystem services and community-based strategies. Protected areas can range from strictly protected to sustainable use PAs and from government-managed to community-managed areas (Woodhouse & Bedelian, 2018). There is mixed evidence about the biodiversity and poverty reduction outcomes of PAs, but a general sense that PES can lead to positive outcomes in both spheres. There is evidence that PAs have reduced deforestation, but biodiversity outcomes appear to vary by species. One robust study demonstrates that habitat corridors can increase conservation and decrease rates of extinction (Damschen et al., 2019).
There is some evidence that outcomes are context dependent and related to the length or age of the intervention. Positive poverty reduction outcomes in Nepal’s PAs are partly linked to the length of time the PA in question has been established. Wildlife repopulation, the benefits generated by ecosystem conservation, the development of new models of resource use and the adoption of a new legal framework all take time to establish, as do creating and strengthening human capacities for management and governance (AFD, 2016). Lee (2018) argues that the positive conservation outcomes in the Burunge WMA are linked to its age, its location close to two national parks, Tanzania’s large ecotourism industry, and capacity building for village game scouts and management of the WMA.
- Restricting access to natural resources can have negative poverty impacts for affected households, especially for communities living in PAs, who may be more dependent on nontimber forest products and other resources.
- Creation and management of PAs can undermine customary land rights (Pyhala et al., 2016).
- Compensation for loss of resources or livelihoods often includes payments or alternative livelihood schemes. However, there have been mixed, often negative, outcomes for poverty reduction and human well-being.
- Tourism is often an alternative livelihood strategy in PAs or a compensation mechanism through arrangements for affected communities to receive a share of the PA’s tourism income.
- Two robust studies suggest that capacity is the key governance and management aspect related to positive biodiversity outcomes in PAs. Other factors are also likely to be important, but, very few studies examine the quality of PA governance and management.
- Many landscapes such as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, the Congo Basin and Mount Elgon include a number of different protected areas and national parks in different countries. These areas and parks often have different governance arrangements and there is evidence that outcomes vary by area.
Understanding people’s motivation
- Understanding motivation for participating in PES programmes and barriers to participation is important. The design of some PES programmes means that the poorest households are not able to participate.
- Interventions to reduce wildlife crime are most effective when addressing the underlying motivations of people involved, delivered through community engagement strategies.
- The nature and quality of community engagement and participation in PA planning and management partly conditions outcomes.
- There is mixed evidence for the effectiveness of community based natural resources management for biodiversity and poverty reduction. This suggests that other factors such as
how the intervention is implemented and the context may be important. Although, there is positive evidence that community engagement and participation leads to positive outcomes including increased food security, increased animal density inside PAs, reduced deforestation, and reduced wildlife crime.
- PA and PES can be complementary strategies.
- There is a small body of evidence that suggests positive outcomes require a range of complementary strategies.
The evidence base
There is a limited evidence base for the efficacy of a number of interventions in terms of both biodiversity and poverty reduction outcomes. For example, Clements & Milner-Gullard (2014) argue that there are few rigorous evaluations of the environmental and social impacts of protected areas (PAs) and payments for ecosystem services (PES). Whilst Roe & Booker (2019) highlight the dearth of evidence on effectiveness of community-based strategies to tackle international wildlife crime (IWT).
This report reviews a mix of impact evaluations, randomised control trials, peer reviewed academic literature and grey literature. Within this, studies use different measures for poverty reduction and human well-being outcomes including income, food security, and access to resources. Consequently, this report understands poverty reduction outcomes quite broadly. Due to the time constraints of this review, it was not possible to review the literature related to carbon mitigation and sequestration outcomes. However, biodiversity conservation interventions, particularly those that avert deforestation are likely to have positive outcomes for carbon mitigation as illustrated by Jayachandran et al., (2017). The consideration of alternative livelihood strategies, aside from tourism, which was a common strategy in the evidence base, is also limited due to time constraints.