Livelihoods strategies, deforestation and biodiversity conservation: a micro econometric analysis using rural households survey in the Tridom transboundary conservation landscape

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This thesis investigates the key drivers of rural households’ choices of livelihoods, and how these choices impact forest clearing and biodiversity conservation under a landscape approach. Using a novel and unique database obtained from a face-to-face survey with a representative sample of 1035 households in the Dja-Odzala-Minkébé trinational transboundary conservation landscape (Tridom-TCL)- Congo basin , this PhD thesis address three main questions investigated in three chapters. Using a spatial probit model, the first chapter investigates “how do local and indigenous households formulate their preferences among livelihoods strategies?” Using a spatial lag model, the second chapter investigates “how and how much do these livelihoods strategies, given wildlife constrains such as human-wildlife conflicts, impact smallscale deforestation?” Using corner solution models, the third chapter investigates "how the nature of the interactions among households and wildlife, the households’ main activities as well as their land holdings impact their willingness to pay to prevent endangered forest elephant extinction?”Among other, we find that livelihoods strategies are determined by autochthonous status, financial assets (money transfer and access to loan), distance to market and larger crop losses resulting from human-wildlife conflicts. Further, we show that livelihoods strategies are important for deforestation. Therefore, the commitments to reducing small-scale deforestation may be favored by a good consideration of factors that drive households’ livelihoods strategies. We find out that spatial issues seem to be important. Proximity among households yields spatial shift effects and spatial spillover effects that are likely to amplify small-scale deforestation. We also argue that, cross-cutting solutions towards a sustainable landscape considering these three crucial issues involve optimizing trade-off between households’ livelihoods strategies, forest and the natural habitats of fauna. Therefore, the issues of community land security, of where natural habitat is needed and of how it should be managed are at the core of the problem. For example, decision-makers should proceed with the integration of large mammals mobility corridors far away from the community settlements in order to enhance zero-conflict-oriented elephant habitats; corridors should be consistently placed relatively to high elephant-concentration zones without crossing into zones with denser human populations.

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