Thesis: Ecosystem services-Livelihood nexus in Ethiopian Protected Areas: Understanding the role of socioeconomic factors for Natural Resources Conservation
Ethiopia’s protected areas (PAs) are established to conserve and sustainably utilize the country’s biodiversity. Most are in the marginal areas of rural poor where local communities are heavily dependent upon ecosystem service based livelihoods. As a result, they become the centre of conflict between the conservationist and local resource users. Moreover, population growth and resulted increase in livelihoods demands intensified the resource access conflict, and become a challenge for already weak PAs management. Concurrently, the government plans to increase PAs from 14.5% to 17% of land area by 2020 under sustainable development program.
This study will assess socioeconomic determinants of households’ dependence on protected areas’ ecosystem services, and impacts protected areas, particularly Ethiopian national parks, to socioeconomic outcomes and livelihood strategies of local communities under strict management system. Both quasi-experimental design based on matching and econometric regression will be used to analyse quantitative data from household surveys.
Why my research is important
Degradation of natural resources is the main challenge to developing countries like Ethiopia -- where protected areas in particular, act as the only viable ‘communal areas’ for local communities. Though protected areas play a significant role to people’s livelihoods, their sustainability is jeopardized due to lack of proper management strategies. To this end, examining the link between protected areas and people’s wellbeing is crucial.
This research will help to understand the socioeconomic factors that influence protected areas, and their contributions to the local communities’ livelihood. The knowledge will contribute in order to formulate better and relevant natural resource conservation and management strategies that can promote sustainable development within the local socioeconomic context. Overall, the research output will ultimately provide a framework to maintain protected areas, ecological integrity for enhancing ecosystem services to improve local communities’ livelihoods.