Accepted paper:

Mid-Altitude Forest Conservation & the Rural-Urban Landscape in East Africa: Demographic transformation, ethnoecology, and fortress conservation


Abe Goldman (University of Florida)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines demographic and land use changes around mid-altitude forest parks in East Africa, the rural-urban landscapes that have developed surrounding those parks, and the impacts on livelihoods and ethnoecological perceptions by people living near the parks.

Paper long abstract:

While most attention to conservation and its impacts has focused on African savanna parks, East Africa's mid-altitude protected forests represent very different contexts both in conservation objectives and in the historic and current interactions between the parks and the people living around them. The landscapes surrounding all remaining mid-altitude protected forests in East Africa have undergone massive demographic change over the past half century, which has transformed previously sparsely populated frontiers into densely populated examples of what may be considered rural-urban landscapes. Those landscapes include areas of intensive agriculture, with both small- and large-scale farmers, laborers, and enterprises, and hierarchical urban networks, all of which are highly interconnected. The third components are the protected forests, which are all separated by sharp boundaries from the surrounding rural-urban landscapes. This paper, based on several years of research in western Uganda and elsewhere, examines the demographic and land use changes around these forest parks and their implications both for local livelihoods and political economy, and for conservation prospects. Among other issues, we examine the nature and significance of ethnoecological perceptions and assessments by neighboring people and groups of the version of "fortress conservation" represented by these forest parks, and the parks' impacts and implications for the people and rural-urban areas near protected forests.

panel P190
Futures of nature in African rural and urban spaces in the post-independence era