Research

The CREATE project commenced in January 2011 and is funded by the European Union (EU) and Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS). CREATE investigates key questions regarding inter-relationships between poverty reduction, human health, resiliency to shocks, natural resource management, and environmental conservation within two ecosystems: Serengeti in Tanzania and North Luangwa in Zambia. Applied research conducted in these ecosystems allows comparison of the effects of factors such as capacity for local governance, local livelihoods, socioeconomic attributes, landscape characteristics, and poverty. Partnerships across the two ecosystems help to identify and scale-up best practices while maximising their impact, thereby reducing direct and indirect threats to system function and stability.

The goals of CREATE are to (1) better understand the linkages between poverty, human health, management of shocks, and environmental sustainability while (2) actively informing local and international decision-making and policy development for these key African ecosystems.

CREATE builds upon previous FZS & EU work which piloted the Convention on Biodiversity’s “Ecosystem Approach” to conservation in the Serengeti and North Luangwa ecosystems. This approach is based on the perceived link between poverty experienced by communities living in ecosystems with high biodiversity and access to key ecosystem services. The goal is to conserve biodiversity through interventions designed to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty.

CREATE currently operates as five case studies:

Case Study 1: Impacts of population growth on environment, resilience to shocks, and human health.

This case study examines the effects of community-level interactive service provision by trusted community health workers on human fertility and resource use in Tanzania. We use this study to provide data regarding potential impacts of improving resiliency and human health, and reducing negative impacts on the environment, through a cost-effective and direct measure of addressing human population growth. The case study is also investigating the impacts of population growth and settlement trends on use of natural resources, ecosystem function, and conservation.

Case Study 2: Income diversification through microcredit enterprises, and impacts on poverty reduction, use of natural resources, and resilience to shocks.

FZS previously piloted a sustainable microcredit approach to environmentally-friendly livelihood diversification. Self-generating microfinance groups in the Serengeti targeted former bushmeat hunters to provide alternative income opportunities. This case study examines how diversification of livelihoods can contribute to reducing poverty and dependency on natural resources, and improve conservation management.

Case Study 3: Examining links between information dissemination and decision making about use of natural resources.

PART A: Tanzania. Pastoral communities around Serengeti National Park valued natural forests on village land more after seeing that effects of a recent drought resulted in fewer livestock losses in areas with intact forest. This case study examines (a) how information about resource use and resiliency to shocks informs household-level perceptions about use of natural resources, and (b) the impacts of this information on natural resource management. The study is also exploring the effects of different dissemination methods on resource management awareness and decisions.

PART B: Zambia. Harvesting of edible caterpillars by many rural households contributes to food security in the North Luangwa ecosystem. Sustainable harvesting depends on (a) healthy survivor populations of caterpillars, (b) availability of preferred tree species, and (c) control of fires during the egg-laying period. This case study investigates linkages between harvesting methods and fire management, poverty alleviation, and resource management at household and community levels. A systematic monitoring program also facilitates evaluation of the impacts of feedback systems on decisions about use of natural resources.

Case Study 4: The role and impacts of improving food security on human health and use of natural resources.

Bushmeat can be an important source of protein for many households in both the Serengeti and North Luangwa ecosystems. This case study examines food security and household consumption of bushmeat within these systems to (a) better understand the primary local drivers of bushmeat hunting, distribution, and consumption, (b) identify sustainable alternative sources of protein for local communities, (c) develop recommendations to address barriers to alternative sourcing, and (d) explore potential changes in bushmeat hunting and consumption under a range of policy and management scenarios.

Case Study 5: Reducing costs of living with wildlife through information dissemination, and improving household food security and resilience to shocks through decreased human-wildlife conflict.

Human-wildlife conflict within communities living adjacent to protected areas for wildlife often has adverse effects on household food security as well as wildlife conservation. This case study focuses on human-elephant conflict to (a) map the spatial and temporal extent of conflict and (b) examine the relationships between local perceptions about conflict, the efficacy of techniques to mitigate conflict, uptake of techniques by households and community institutions, and barriers to effective interventions.

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