Conservation–related Resettlement in Central Africa: Environmental and Social Risks

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Abstract

Since the Rio Conference of 1992, which declared the conservation of biodiversity and the creation of national parks to be priorities, resettlements resulting from conservation projects in Central Africa have been on the increase, as people living inside protected areas are relocated. Hardly any of these resettlements have been successful. There has been resistance to moving in the first place, and even returns to former villages inside the national parks. Resettlement is still the most common way to deal with people who happen to live in African national parks, but the risks which arise from these resettlements have led some scientists to rethink their position. This article focuses on the Congo River Basin. It reviews the only ‘official’ relocation programme in the region (Korup National Park, Cameroon) and evaluates different approaches of national parks in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo (Brazzaville) and Gabon. The author uses the Impoverishment Risk and Reconstruction model introduced by Cernea to evaluate the risks faced by the resettled populations, and to elaborate some social and environmental guidelines to mitigate them.

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