KINGSTON, R.I. September 7, 2011 When the government of Tanzania established Saadani National Park in 2005, it enhanced protection of the coastal mangrove ecosystem from further degradation. A study by a team of University of Rhode Island researchers found that the new park caused a short-term negative effect on the livelihood of those who harvest mangrove trees for fuelwood but a long-term benefit to their local communities from increased fishing opportunities.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on August 22.
"There is international concern for protecting precious tropical mangrove ecosystems that sustain an abundance of wildlife and fisheries habitat," said Catherine McNally, a URI doctoral student studying natural resources science. "A basic issue, however, is whether the protection afforded by national parks cause the local people's livelihoods to decline so much that they find themselves unable to climb out of poverty. It's a question that people are confronting all over the developing world."
McNally, along with Emi Uchida, assistant professor of natural resource economics, and Art Gold, professor of natural resources science, say that the rural poor are highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. In the area where the park was established, McNally analyzed satellite imagery to document that mangrove cover declined by 27 percent from 1990 to 2005 as a result of the trees being harvested for fuelwood and charcoal production. From 2005 to 2009, when the park was established and harvesting was restricted, mangrove cover declined by just one percent.
Mangroves are a highly important nursery ecosystem for fish and shrimp, and it is used by birds and other wildlife that attract tourists as well.
"If the park hadn't been established and harvesting of the mangroves continued, then eventually the shrimp and fishery harvest would decline because of the
|Contact: Todd McLeish|
University of Rhode Island