Livelihoods of fringe communities and the impacts on the management of conservation area: the case of Kakum National Park in Ghana
INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY REVIEW
Presbyterian Univ Coll, Univ Educ Winneba
In the developing countries most of the rural communities depend on forest resources for their livelihood. The establishment of protected areas and national parks however deprive them of having access to these resources. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, this study assessed the NTFPs collection situation of the fringe communities after the establishment of Kakum National Park, the extent to which the livelihood of the communities has been improved, and how the presence or absence of livelihood improvement strategies has shaped the attitudes and perceptions of the fringe communities toward the national park. The results showed that about 17% of the household leaders were unemployed. Livelihood support strategies such as livelihood alternatives and enhancement, social capital and sociological tourism were found to be absent. Opinion leaders of the communities reported that no member is involved in the management of the park. In spite of restrictions, majority (88.4%) of the household members enter the national park for NTFP collection. Hunting was found to be third highest activity. The households reported that majority of the NTFPs they collect were not processed indicating that their capacities to add value to the resource have not been developed. They believe that value addition to NTFPs could increase their income levels but did not support the theory that it could safeguard the future availability of forest resources and contribute to their sustainability. The respondents believed that once the resources are in abundance they must be exploited to meet their socio-economic needs, suggesting the nexus between illegal entry to conservation area and unsustainable exploitation of forest resources. The paper concludes that when restrictions are placed on access to forest resources and no alternative sources of income are made, illegal entry becomes the norm. The illegal NTFPs collectors would not view the resources as "their own" and would exploit them in an unsustainable way to meet their needs.