Balancing conservation with national development: a socio-economic case study of the alternatives to the Serengeti Road

Nugent, R. A., Hopcraft, J. G. C. , Bigurube, G., Lembeli, J. D. and Borner, M. (2015) Balancing conservation with national development: a socio-economic case study of the alternatives to the Serengeti Road. PLoS ONE, 10(7), e0130577. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130577) (PMID:26200107) (PMCID:PMC4511738)

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Developing countries often have rich natural resources but poor infrastructure to capitalize on them, which leads to significant challenges in terms of balancing poverty alleviation with conservation. The underlying premise in development strategies is to increase the socio-economic welfare of the people while simultaneously ensuring environmental sustainability, however these objectives are often in direct conflict. National progress is dependent on developing infrastructure such as effective transportation networks, however roads can be ecologically catastrophic in terms of disrupting habitat connectivity and facilitating illegal activity. How can national development and conservation be balanced? The proposed Serengeti road epitomizes the conflict between poverty alleviation on one hand, and the conservation of a critical ecosystem on the other. We use the Serengeti as an exemplar case-study in which the relative economic and social benefits of a road can be assessed against the ecological impacts. Specifically, we compare three possible transportation routes and ask which route maximizes the socio-economic returns for the people while minimizing the ecological costs. The findings suggest that one route in particular that circumnavigates the Serengeti links the greatest number of small and medium sized entrepreneurial businesses to the largest labour force in the region. Furthermore, this route connects the most children to schools, provisions the greatest access to hospitals, and opens the most fertile crop and livestock production areas, and does not compromise the ecology and tourism revenue of the Serengeti. This route would improve Tanzania’s food security and self-reliance and would facilitate future infrastructure development which would not be possible if the road were to pass through the Serengeti. This case study provides a compelling example of how a detailed spatial analysis can balance the national objectives of poverty alleviation while maintaining ecological integrity.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Borner, Dr Markus and Hopcraft, Dr Grant
Authors: Nugent, R. A., Hopcraft, J. G. C., Bigurube, G., Lembeli, J. D., and Borner, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 10(7):e0130577
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
681691AfricanBioServicesDaniel HaydonEuropean Commission (EC)641918RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED