Leveraging local livelihood strategies to support conservation and development in West Africa Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2018 Elsevier B.V. Over the past 30 years, the promotion of alternative occupations has been central to livelihood-centered conservation projects (LCP). However, continued pressure on protected areas and high poverty levels in surrounding communities suggest that other LCP approaches may be needed. One historically understudied approach focuses on enhancing pre-existing livelihood strategies to achieve conservation and development goals. We assessed the efficacy of the alternative occupations and pre-existing livelihood strategies approaches to LCPs using two case studies of adjacent protected areas along the Senegal River in West Africa. One community in Senegal promotes tourism as an alternative occupation; another in Mauritania builds on the local fishing-farming mixed livelihood strategy. From 2014 to 2015 we used qualitative methods (e.g. semi-structured interviews and participant observations) to examine each LCP's capacity to deliver positive conservation and development outcomes, focusing on perceived outcomes on local livelihoods and conservation goals. Overall, LCP which focused on the pre-existing fishing-farming livelihood strategy received more positive perceptions in terms of enhancing local livelihoods, fostering positive conservation behaviors, and improving park-community relations. We conclude that these observed outcomes stem from acknowledgment of and adherence to local needs and priorities within the context of local vulnerability and a park management approach that fostered a sense of resource ownership. In places where alternative occupations like tourism have not succeeded in delivering positive conservation and development goals, this paper presents an alternative strategy that is rooted in the social and environmental realities of local communities.

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Sene-Harper, A., Matarrita-Cascante, D., & Larson, L. R.

citation count

  • 12

publication date

  • March 2019