Linking ape conservation and poverty alleviation
1. To promote learning and dialogue on poverty-conservation linkages at the international level.
2. To increase the focus on poverty concerns within conservation policy and programmes – particularly at the national level – and to build better and stronger linkages with existing initiatives that are focusing on development policy.
3. To introduce a great ape component to our work - by including ape-specific elements within our core networking and information dissemination activities and by focusing our mainstreaming efforts on conservation policies, programmes and locations that are relevant to great ape conservation.
The countries where great apes range provide classic examples of the conservation-poverty debate in practice. Great ape ranges coincide with some of the poorest countries of the world – particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Highly endangered great apes are often protected through strictly controlled and enforced conservation areas that can – intentionally or otherwise – have negative impacts on the livelihoods of the already poor local communities, through restrictions on resource access and so on.
Great ape conservation projects, such as the International Gorilla Conservation Project (IGCP), have been at the forefront of efforts to assess and monitor the socio-economic impacts of conservation, and to create meaningful conservation incentives for local people. At the same time, the economic benefits derived from great ape conservation – for example from tourism – are not shared with local people at a level that generates real incentives for landscape-scale conservation. As a result a potentially valuable resource does not only fail to realize its full poverty reduction potential, but the actual, or perceived, negative impacts of conservation may result in local antipathy – or even outright hostility - to conservation efforts.
The Poverty and Conservation Learning Group has, to date, operated predominantly at the international level. We recognize that progress also needs to be made at the national and local level and therefore plan to pilot a series of national level activities. We recognise that national policy agendas should reflect conservation-poverty linkages and the concerns of civil society organizations, and see an opportunity for PCLG to help ensure that learning about linkages is fed into national policy frameworks, and thereby into the international arena of multilateral environmental agreements and donor funding arrangements.