Can national parks deliver in a modern world? : cases from Mikumi National Park in Tanzania and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda
MetadataShow full item record
Tanzania and Uganda are two countries in Africa with an outstanding abundance of biodiversity. This biodiversity is usually conserved in Protected Areas such as national parks. Mikumi National Park (MINAPA) and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) are of great international importance because of their ecological qualities. MINAPA and Selous Game Reserve form a unique eco-system and together, they hold one of the largest populations of wild elephants. BINP has exceptional biodiversity but its international conservation value mostly emanates from being home to the endangered mountain gorillas. The park as an organisation has increasingly become responsible for delivering biodiversity conservation, tourist products and economic development, and also contributes to poverty alleviation around the park. This study looks at, if the park as an organisation and institution is equipped to deliver in all these areas. We have analysed MINAPA and BINP and also looked at how practical cases of major problems faced by the two parks are handled by the management. The parks are semi-autonomous, but still they have quite strict chains of command throughout their management system. They are guided by formal rules and procedures according to management plans such as the General Management Plan. The division of labour is composed of diverse expertise and the parks‟ physical structures are mostly underdeveloped and underfunded. This leads to both parks delivering more in areas of biodiversity conservation and control of poaching, than in tourism and community conservation. Furthermore, policies for these areas are present in the parks, but their implementation is ineffective, leading to institutional failure. Both national parks are surrounded by human settlements, whose integration in management has had both positive and negative consequences. During our fieldwork, we discovered that MINAPA and BINP employees hold strong conservation values and follow strict norms relating to conservation. In addition to biodiversity conservation, TANAPA and UWA have improved and increased community conservation and participation as one of their main values. However, employees in the parks do not share the latter core value with their park authorities. Further, our results also indicate that local people‟s values are linked to the utilisation of park resources, which conflict with park management and its internal stakeholders‟ values. This creates major challenges for both parties. Local people surrounding MINAPA and BINP express that park authorities do not carry out enough actions to address their concerns, whereas park staff claim that they are incapable of responding to all local people‟s demands. Furthermore, local people are to a certain extent involved in some of the parks‟ management programmes, particularly, revenue sharing, problem animal and poaching control measures and multiple resource use, but park authorities still dominate and control decision-making. The local people‟s attitudes have possibilities of changing if they are involved more in park management and if issues such as problem animals, poaching and their gains from the parks are addressed. As a result, aspects of empowerment, responsibility and rights sharing could be improved. There is a need for an organisational and institutional change of the park as an instrument in the direction of improving the collaborative resource use management, particularly including local people more in decision-making.