Sustainable human resources in a protected area in southwestern Gabon

  • Thibault M
  • Blaney S
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Int central Africa where governments and funding agencies cover only a
fraction of the recurrent expenditures needed to effectively manage the
protected-areas network, it is essential to invest in the people who
will be called on to participate in conservation efforts over the long
term. In the Gamba Protected Areas Complex in southwestern Gabon we
analyzed the perseverance of all those who participated in training
sessions, held since 1996 in ecological survey techniques and in
participatory rural appraisal (socioeconomic studies). Of government
agents who attended the respective training sessions, 7.7% continued
ecological surveys and 0% continued participatory rural appraisal 2
years after training However, 76.2% and 60.0% of the members of local
communities who received training were still active in ecological
surveys and participatory rural appraisal respectively after 2 years.
Definitive conclusions regarding of nongovernmental organization members
cannot be drawn because of the low number of initial participants in the
training programs Based on our results, village collaborators seem to be
a more ``sustainable{''} human resource than government agents or of
nongovernmental organizations members. Even though local communities
cannot be solely responsible for managing protected areas today's
conservation professionals must acknowledge the strengths and
limitations of village collaborators. Implementing a process involving
the participation and the emulation of community members is a demanding
task because protected-area managers must be based in the field to
identify key individuals and to organize intensive training sessions
Also, constant support must be provided during the first years, and then
the most capable and motivated collaborators will be able to pursue
further training and well their way up through the ranks of the
protected area's organizational structure.

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  • M Thibault

  • S Blaney

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