The rural populations that remain following Gabon's discovery of oil and subsequent rural exodus, mostly practice hunting or fishing, and live on the poverty line. For those communities that have found themselves close to, or even within a national park, this can create both opportunities and restrictions. WCS strives to ensure that the traditional rights of communities are upheld, while working with communities to sustainably manage their natural resources.
Our projects include working with fishing communities to monitor fishing techniques and stocks, establishing an oyster farmer association, assistance and capacity building in community-based tourism activities, trialing beekeeping and honey as an alternative income to trading bush-meat and reducing crop devestation by elephants.
As Gabon is culturally diverse, frequently there is no single solution for issues like the human-elephant conflict. To work with communities requires a deep understanding of cultural norms and acceptable solutions, which our field sites acquire through the years of their presence. Against this culturally diverse back-drop, the standardised socio-economic studies that we have trialled and used across a number of sites provide valuable base-line data on the relationship between protected areas and people.