Effectiveness of Africa's tropical protected areas for maintaining forest cover

J. N. Bowker, A. De Vos, J. M. Ament, G. S. Cumming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The effectiveness of parks for forest conservation is widely debated in Africa, where increasing human pressure, insufficient funding, and lack of management capacity frequently place significant demands on forests. Tropical forests house a substantial portion of the world's remaining biodiversity and are heavily affected by anthropogenic activity. We analyzed park effectiveness at the individual (224 parks) and national (23 countries) level across Africa by comparing the extent of forest loss (as a proxy for deforestation) inside parks to matched unprotected control sites. Although significant geographical variation existed among parks, the majority of African parks had significantly less forest loss within their boundaries (e.g., Mahale Park had 34 times less forest loss within its boundary) than control sites. Accessibility was a significant driver of forest loss. Relatively inaccessible areas had a higher probability (odds ratio >1, p < 0.001) of forest loss but only in ineffective parks, and relatively accessible areas had a higher probability of forest loss but only in effective parks. Smaller parks less effectively prevented forest loss inside park boundaries than larger parks (T = −2.32, p < 0.05), and older parks less effectively prevented forest loss inside park boundaries than younger parks (F2,154 = −4.11, p < 0.001). Our analyses, the first individual and national assessment of park effectiveness across Africa, demonstrated the complexity of factors (such as geographical variation, accessibility, and park size and age) influencing the ability of a park to curb forest loss within its boundaries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-569
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

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