Terrestrial Protected Areas and Poverty Reduction in Ghana: A Case Study of the Mole National Park and the Mognori and Murugu Communities

Author(s): Ishak Mohammed

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Abstract: The establishment of Protected Areas (PAs) represents one of the key strategies for biodiversity conservation. Their potential to improve livelihoods in adjoining communities however remains a source of increasing controversy in conservation literature. This essay examines the socio-economic impacts of the Mole National Park on indigenous livelihoods in Mognori and Murugu "“ two fringe communities in the West Gonja District of Ghana. It explores the ways through which local livelihoods are affected by the park and identifies the impacts of on-going pro-poor initiatives in the study communities. The study reveals that while the park provides job opportunities, it has been less effective in ensuring the fair distribution of these opportunities among locals. Similarly, even though the PA is expected to contribute to infrastructure provision and the provision of security against human-wildlife conflicts, evidence from the field suggests otherwise. For reasons beyond the control of the park, the prevailing compensatory mechanisms are hardly adequate in cushioning victims against damages to properties and assets. This study thus, provides partial support to conservation's poverty reduction claims. Consistent efforts to explore the areas of synergies between biodiversity conservation and livelihood enhancement are necessary if local relevance of protected area establishment is to be maximised. With appropriate and well-thought schemes, PAs can potentially contribute to the twin goals of ecosystem protection and local livelihood development.