Wildlife, Values, Justice: Reconciling Sustainability in African Proteced Areas

Project: Research

Project participants


Background & Challenges:
For humans and wildlife, land is a scarce resource that gradually degrades through increasing demands for natural goods. As a consequence, loss of biodiversity and ecological functions threatens to affect human well-being. The International Convention on Biological Diversity stipulates protected areas as cornerstones to counteract this trend. However, due to inadequate governance, low effectiveness in terms of ecological and social outcomes challenges the sustainability of many protected areas. Thus, solutions are needed to improve conservation and increase human well-being in protected areas.

Research Approach & Goals:
This project will investigate these global problems through a holistic view on protected areas as social-ecological systems in two developing countries of the global South that are important for biodiversity conservation: Zambia and Tanzania. By an interdisciplinary approach, we will interlink social and ecological system conditions by i) considering procedural justice in the governance of protected areas, distributive justice of the ecological goods and services derived from protected areas and the underlying value system that shapes the attitude of justice towards nature; ii) explore biodiversity outcomes by considering large mammals, butterflies and landscape connectivity. Using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and multispectral cameras, the potential for automatized image recognition will be investigated in order to measure conservation effectiveness in protected areas. This novel approach serves as a global pilot study for wildlife counts and overall, the project will advance our understanding of protected areas as arenas to navigate social-ecological dynamics towards resilience and sustainability.

Research outputs