Gabon is at the forefront of conservation in Africa, notably in terms of its comprehensive system of national parks, and its investment in the effective management of these protected areas. In the establishment of these protected areas, efforts were made to minimize any negative impacts on communities who were living within and around these areas. Nonetheless there have inevitably been some negative social impacts, in particular related to human-wildlife conflict and restrictions on access to forest resources. On the other hand, communities have noted some positive impacts and opportunities exist to increase some of these positive impacts.
For the conservation intervention to be effective it is important to fully understand the current situation of positive and negative social impacts associated with the protected areas and, in particular, how these impacts are experienced by different social groups within the communities.
WCS is committed to assessing the social impacts of protected areas, and to enhance the contribution of conservation to human well-being. This includes both the positive benefits of living next to protected areas, such as the generation of ecotourism revenue, as well as the negative, such as human-elephant conflict (HEC). We use different approaches such as the Basic Necessities Survey (BNS), and participatory mapping.