Establishing protected areas (PAs) has been one of the most common and successful interventions since the very beginning of the conservation movement. The process of protecting areas from threats posed by human activities will, by definition, inhibit some of these activities and therefore potentially have adverse impacts on the well-being of people living in or near PAs. However, these impacts could be balanced through the maintenance of valuable ecosystem services or the introduction of new livelihood options. Consequently, there is an on-going debate about whether the net impact of PAs on human well-being at local or regional scales is positive or negative. This STAP Advisory Document and associated Policy Brief Assessing the Effects of Terrestrial Protected Areas on Human Well-being reports on the results of a systematic review of evidence related to the impacts on human well-being arising from the establishment or maintenance of terrestrial PAs. The evidence base provides a range of possible pathways of the impacts of PAs on human well-being (both positive and negative). However, it provides very little support for decision making on how to maximise positive impacts or minimise negative ones. Recommendations are made to improve the design of future studies and to replicate this study to focus specifically on the rich portfolio of GEF terrestrial protected area projects to better understand the empirical evidence of impacts of PAs on human well-being and to develop a streamlined methodology for PA projects in the GEF portfolio to be tested in GEF-6, with the goal of improving their overall effectiveness and post-project sustainability.
Publication Date: April 2014
Authors: Andrew S. Pullin, Sarah Dalrymple, Neal R. Haddaway, Teri Knight, Mukdarut Bangpan, Kelly Dickson, Hanan Hauari, Carol Vigurs, Sandy Oliver, John R. Healey, Neal Hockley, Julia P.G. Jones.