Linking Conservation Goals and Outcomes: The Social-Ecological Dynamics of Drought Resource Management in East Africa Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Miller, Brian William
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Environment and Ecology
  • The establishment of conservation areas is a widespread strategy for protecting the environment from human activities, and it is clear that conservation areas also have a variety of consequences for human communities. However, the ways in which the social effects of conservation then translate into environmental outcomes are not well studied. This dissertation illustrates one approach to studying these interactions by drawing on theory and methods from landscape, human, and political ecology. I focused on locations within rangeland systems that maintain resource availability during periods of low-rainfall (e.g., swamps and rivers), which support unique vegetation communities, and wildlife and livestock populations. I analyzed the distribution of these drought resource areas (DRAs) in relation to conservation areas and land use changes in East Africa, the effects of changes in DRA access on the livelihood decisions of Maasai pastoralists, and the relationships between livelihoods, land use, and rivers. These analyses required a combination of remote sensing data and information that I collected in six villages that are varying distances from Tarangire National Park (TNP), including semi-structured group and individual interviews, household surveys, geographic locations of water sources and land cover types, and channel cross-sections and sediment samples from four rivers. Conservation areas and land use changes have affected pastoralist access to DRAs, but their relative influence varies by spatial scale. The herding practices of Maasai households during recent and historical droughts suggest that the establishment of TNP had a less dramatic effect on drought resource use than was previously thought. This unexpected finding is likely due to changing perceptions of resource availability and the complexity of resource-use decisions, which are affected by household and contextual factors. For many households, small rivers and ephemeral streams continue to serve as critical DRAs. These waterways have been resistant to recent land use changes (e.g., roads, cultivation), possibly because they have adjusted to the historical effects of wild and domestic ungulates on water and sediment supply. Reduction in the availability or productivity of these DRAs would have far-reaching effects on local land users, and, consequently, on the use of natural resources within this iconic conservation landscape.
Date of publication
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  • In Copyright
  • Leslie, Paul
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2013

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