Sustainable Management of Protected Areas in East Africa

Project period: 2014-2018
Project sources: National Natural Science Foundation of China

East African nations have expanded the coverage of Protected Areas (PA) and established a complex set of PA management systems over the past century. The mandate for PA in East Africa has changed recently from protecting biodiversity to alleviating poverty and supporting livelihoods. However, a combination of human activities and ecological processes inside and outside of PAs may not only impact biodiversity and ecosystem functions over the long term, but also pose a threat to the capacity of PAs to maintain livelihoods and alleviate poverty in the local communities around them. The state of existing research in the field suggests there is an enormous need for additional research, the purpose of which is to help PA managers and policy-makers in East Africa understand how to achieve win-win outcomes for both ecosystems and human well-being.


As an example of such efforts, in 2014 the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)jointly initiated the “Sustainable Management of Protected Areas in East Africa” project. With initial funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the goal of this project is to understand the dynamic interactions between ecosystems and human well-being in areas adjacent to PA in East Africa and identify PA management best-practices that reconcile the need to meet conservation targets with the demands of local communities for secure livelihoods. The project deploys cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary research techniques to improve our understanding of the impact PAs are having on both ecosystems and human well-being in East Africa.


Significant progress has been made in the implementation of the project, in terms of data collection, exchanges of researchers, and the completion of case studies. In the coming years, success stories and examples of failures in PA management in the region will be systematically summarized and shared among scientists, managers, and decision makers worldwide. Given its blueprint for building a “Beautiful China,” China can both supplement and benefit from East African knowledge and experience of PA management. This joint research effort promotes Sino-African cooperation on PA research and management.



Reference: FU Chao, BAI Yunli, ZHANG Linxiu, et al. 2018. Coupling Conservation and Livelihoods for Sustainable Management of Protected Areas in East Africa. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 9(3): 266–272.