Rewilding the Anthropocene

Work Package 1

Changing Rural Livelihoods

Work Package 1

Changing Rural Livelihoods

Rewilding will explore differences in livelihood changes and examine the contribution of large-scale transboundary conservation to agrarian change.

While we know in some detail how much money is paid to conservancies (Namibia) and trusts (Botswana) by trophy hunting companies and leaseholders of lodges and camping sites, we know very little about how this money is distributed and put to use for food, investments and education in communities. Rewilding will trace financial flows as money is turned into livelihood assets, and examine how incomes are distributed within families, and between generations. We ask what role conservation measures, and conservation-related incomes, play in broader agrarian changes.

Conservation also deeply matters for the harvesting and extraction of natural resource (wild fruits, fish, reeds, timber, bush plants, etc.) which contribute significantly to local livelihoods for subsistence or commercial purposes. At the same time, conservation areas induce human-wildlife conflicts, as elephants and other animals prey on cultivation fields, and carnivores kill livestock. Households also incur losses by being barred access to core conservation areas and wildlife corridors.

This work package addresses three sets of questions:

  1. How and to what degree do households incur costs and benefits from conservation? How are such costs/benefits perceived locally and distributed within households, across communities? What household conditions lend themselves to profiting from tourism or the commodification of natural resources?

  2. How do conservation-related costs/benefits relate to other economic activities (e.g., agriculture, livestock husbandry, labor migration)? Are conservation incomes invested, for example, in agricultural intensification, in livestock herds, or might they lead to divestment from agriculture?

  3. In what ways do conservation measures contribute to other livelihood assets, such as improved community land tenure or better preparation for formal labour markets?

  4. In what way do incomes from conservation spur rural inequality or are they an option for rural poor to gain food security?

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