Biodiversity Conservation, Community Development, and Tourism Around Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Authors: Carter Hunt*, Penn State University, Larry Gorenflo, Penn State University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: conservation, biodiversity, tourism, protected areas, Tanzania
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Maryland B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Occasionally referred to as the “Galapagos of East Africa,” the Udzungwa Mountains form part the Eastern Arc Mountain range stretching from southeastern Kenya to south-central Tanzania. The Udzungwa Mountains are remarkable for their high levels of biodiversity and endemic species, but their remote location and difficult access limited tourism and other forms of development well into the 1990s, when the Udzungwa Mountains National Park (UMNP) was established. Since that time, agricultural investments, mostly in commercial rice and sugarcane plantations, have cause the local population to swell to more than 100,000 according to the most recent census. New settlements are encroaching on the National Park, and illegal extraction of game meat and fuel wood are creating direct pressure on park ecology and environmental resources. In this presentation we draw on ongoing research and household survey data gathered in nine villages near that park's borders. Our focus will be on the implications of the Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth (REGROW) program, an investment from the World Bank to the government of Tanzania that is designed to increase regional economic activity and community development via improved tourism access and infrastructure associated with the southern circuit of Tanzania protected areas, including UMNP. Proceeding before its social and environmental consequences are well understood, REGROW will likely generate dramatic social and environmental change around UMNP. Here we discuss the implications of REGROW for conservation and rural community development in light of the mixed subsistence-wage economies that dominate local livelihoods around UNMP.

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