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In developing countries, ‘exponential’ growth in IUCN protected lands has occurred in the last 25 years. Approximately 6% of protected areas are ‘Strict Nature Reserve[s]’ (1A) with emphasis on conservation and strict restrictions on human access. Before Bakossi Forest Reserve (Cameroon) had 1A protection, 95% of local families used the Reserve for their livelihood. They farmed cash crops, collected fire wood, timber, and food with incomes equivalent to US$35,000/annually/family. Post-protection, the Reserve’s local communities lacked support to develop alternative livelihoods, and 75% reported being intercepted illegally trespassing by Reserve guards. Without illegal activity economic impacts would have been substantially greater. Protection has also meant foregone national income from timber and coffee exports. We used Bakossi Forest Reserve as a case study to identify issues facing local communities excluded from the Reserve that traditionally provided their livelihood. We also investigated potential alternative family livelihoods based on critical evaluation of the literature. We identified ‘exceptional’ community-based tourism potential. We also found that Cameroon was the first African country to develop community-based forestry with the dual roles of conservation and poverty alleviation. Using this model, community-based tourism could be a cost-effectively initiative to deliver the same dual roles as community-based forestry.
This document has been peer reviewed.