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Payments for Ecosystem Services as a Framework for Community-Based Conservation in Northern Tanzania

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Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are an increasingly promoted approach to conservation. These approaches seek to develop financial mechanisms that create economic incentives for the maintenance of ecosystems and associated biodiversity by rewarding those who are responsible for provision of ecological services. There are, however, few cases in which such schemes have been used as a strategy for conserving wildlife in developing countries and very few operational examples of such schemes of any sort in sub-Saharan Africa. In savannah ecosystems, large mammal populations generally depend on seasonal use of extensive areas and are widely declining as a result of habitat loss, overexploitation, and policies that limit local benefits from wildlife. Community-based conservation strategies seek to create local incentives for conserving wildlife, but often have limited impact as a result of persistent institutional barriers that limit local rights and economic benefits. In northern Tanzania, a consortium of tourism operators is attempting to address these challenges through an agreement with a village that possesses part of a key wildlife dispersal area outside Tarangire National Park. The operators pay the community to enforce voluntary restrictions on agricultural cultivation and permanent settlement in a defined area of land. The initiative represents a potentially cost-effective framework for community-based conservation in an ecologically important area and is helping to reconcile historically conflicting local and national interests relative to land tenure, pastoralist livelihoods, and conservation. Wider adaptation of payments for ecosystem services approaches to settings where sustaining wildlife populations depends on local stewardship may help address current challenges facing conservation outside state-protected areas in savannah ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world.
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Keywords: Tanzania; community-based conservation; conservación basada en comunidades; ecosistemas de sabanas; migratory wildlife; pagos de servicios ecosistémicos; payments for ecosystem services; savannah ecosystems; vida silvestre migratoria

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Maliasili Initiatives, P.O. Box 8372, Arusha, Tanzania, Email: [email protected] 2: Wildlife Conservation Society, P.O. Box 2703, Arusha, Tanzania 3: Ujamaa Community Resource Trust, P.O. Box 15111, Arusha, Tanzania 4: Dorobo Fund for Tanzania, P.O. Box 15111, Arusha, Tanzania 5: University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom 6: Tanzania Natural Resource Forum, P.O. Box 15605, Arusha, Tanzania

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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