Benefitting People through Biodiversity Conservation
Parks are a choice of land use, and therefore local people must benefit from protected areas in order to value them. African Parks prioritises strong community partnerships through collaborative decision-making and local representation on all park boards or advisory committees and in this way works toward achieving positive community relationships and sustainable development projects.
People need nature to survive, but local communities often carry the costs as well as the benefits of protecting nature. For this reason, African Parks endeavours reducing the impacts, such as human-wildlife conflict, while increasing the benefits through socio-economic enterprises and services such as education and health.
Building a Constituency for Conservation
To help build strong community support for biodiversity conservation, African Park has a holistic approach to community development by focusing on positive community engagement, education and socio-economic development programmes. By establishing mechanisms for positive engagement with communities, park management teams are able to consider the interests of local people in decision- making. In addition, constructing and supporting schools in and around the parks under management provides valuable education and environmental awareness, while sustainable enterprise development is facilitated to enhance livelihoods and socio-political stability
These actions create active community involvement in biodiversity conservation, alleviate poverty and build local economies. This in turn creates a constituency for conservation where local people understand and appreciate the value and long-term benefits they receive from well-managed parks that protect biodiversity.
Approximately 2.5 million people living in and around the parks we manage are benefitting from healthy ecosystem services and socio-economic initiatives.
To promote awareness among local communities of the importance of conserving their natural resources, environmental education programmes are established for both school children and adults. This is done in conjunction with helping to provide social welfare services around the parks we manage, particularly in education and health. Over the past five years, 295 000 people have received healthcare services from mobile health clinics and hospitals funded by African Parks. Nearly 130 schools are being funded through African Parks and over 10, 000 children visit the parks every year in an effort to create environmental awareness.
Poverty Alleviation through Job Creation
African Parks has more than 4,000 employees across the parks it manages – 97% of whom are nationals. In Chinko in the Central African Republic (CAR), more than 300 Central Africans are permanently employed, making Chinko the largest employer outside of the capital, and largest tax payer in Eastern CAR. A park can easily become the economic heart from where people are employed who are then able to buy goods and services. This feeds into creating a conservation-led economy that is dependent on the park. Once this initial foundation is established, tourism and other enterprises can be which grows the overall economic impact.