New HALI Publication: Bridging Local and Global Needs for Conservation and Development

Different stakeholders in the Ruaha Landscape have different needs and ideas for conservation and livelihood improvement.  Getting all stakeholders together to build collaborative regional development plans, though a challenge, may be the best bet in realizing conservation and development goals.  Photo by Micol Farina via Mongobay.

Different stakeholders in the Ruaha Landscape have different needs and ideas for conservation and livelihood improvement.  Getting all stakeholders together to build collaborative regional development plans, though a challenge, may be the best bet in realizing conservation and development goals.  Photo by Micol Farina via Mongobay.

- David Wolking

In December 2013, the HALI team released a new publication on a study investigating the challenges associated with the sustainable management of landscapes like the Ruaha Ecosystem in Tanzania, where diverse stakeholders rely on natural resources for livelihoods.  Authored by Dr. Michel Masozera, who completed his PhD with HALI's partner the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, the study used conjoint analysis to assess the preferences of different stakeholders like local communities, government officials and non-governmental  organizations towards conservation and development goals.  Conjoint analysis is a technique used to establish the importance of different factors in service provision, typically used in marketing research for the identification of factors influencing demand of a product or commodity.  

In the study, Michel and team conducted focus groups at the village and district levels to identify critical problems facing local communities. They then formulated attributes or management alternatives based on the focus group discussions taking into account management concerns, public issues, resource use and development opportunities in the Ruaha Landscape, and bundled these attributes into a series of hypothetical management strategies. After recruiting representatives from each of the stakeholder communities for a workshop, they conducted an interactive conjoint survey where participants ranked the management alternatives to determine the relative importance of each attribute to overall preference.  Finally, using probit models and other statistical techniques, they assessed and compared the ranked preferences and acceptable tradeoffs to identify potential management strategies that would best serve Ruaha's diverse stakeholder community.

Findings show that there is little agreement among these different stakeholders about the best development strategies and investment opportunities in the Ruaha area, a major concern for developing sustainable management policies perceived as beneficial to community and district level needs.  At the local level, participants ranked investments in farmer's cooperatives, loans and capacity building as paramount, while NGOs and district government officials placed greater emphasis on investments in health and education infrastructure.  Developing sustainable and acceptable management policies for the Ruaha Landscape to promote conservation while also improving livelihoods will need to reconcile these diverse needs, facing tough tradeoffs between short-term gains and long-term impact.

Perhaps most critical though, is improving communication and information sharing among all stakeholders in the area and building foundations for trust across groups.  Masozera's study produced a spark for improving inter-group communication in Ruaha, and the conjoint analysis workshop provided an ideal platform to bring these groups together and highlight the diversity of voices and needs.  The next steps are to build on this foundation by drawing on the insight provided by the workshop and working collaboratively towards the formulation of regional development plans.

 You can find a link to the full article at Environmental Management here.