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Poverty drives forest raiders

Nature volume 524, page 138 (13 August 2015) | Download Citation

Researchers have proposed ways to improve efforts to stop people illegally harvesting wood and food from a conservation park in Uganda.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which covers 330 square kilometres, hosts half of the world's endangered mountain gorillas. Mariel Harrison at Imperial College London and her colleagues surveyed 365 households around Bwindi and found that people in 26% of them had hunted for bushmeat and 20% had collected firewood in the park. These illegal activities were most prevalent among the poorest households living in remote areas and closest to the park. Focus groups reported poverty and resentment at the inequitable distribution of benefits from the park as reasons for their activities.

The researchers suggest that projects combining conservation and development should benefit the poorest people in remote areas near park boundaries to reduce illegal activities that jeopardize the park's resources.

Conserv. Biol. (2015)

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