Local responses to a forest park in western Uganda: alternate narratives on fortress conservation


Most research on attitudes to parks in subSaharan Africa has been in savannah regions and areas of low population density. Expulsion, exclusion and the imposition of external control are dominant themes, resulting in negative responses to parks, particularly those that represent hard-edged so-called fortress conservation. Our research in the densely populated area around a mid altitude forest park in western Uganda found an alternate narrative in which, despite its hard-edged fortress features, most people view Kibale National Park favourably. Based on a geographically random sample in two agricultural areas neighbouring the Park, our results indicate that most households felt they benefit from the Park and only a small proportion cited negative impacts. Rather than direct economic returns, the benefits most commonly noted by respondents can be characterized as ecosystem services. Most individual respondents and a large majority of the local political leaders said that the Park should continue to exist. Crop raiding by animals from the Park is a problem in some locations but resource restrictions and expulsion were not widely cited by our respondents. The fact that the large majority of residents migrated to the area after the Park was established may be an important explanatory factor for these responses, and this is also likely to be the case for many other mid altitude tropical forest parks, the demographic and land-use histories of which differ from those around many savannah parks.



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Cambridge University Press

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