Evaluation of rural land-use plans in protected area bio-networks in northeastern Tanzania
The application of rural land-use planning is seen by many in developing countries as a panacea for minimising land-use conflicts and for increasing the productivity of natural resources in African rangelands. However, this assumption has not been thoroughly tested in the context of wildlife corridors in African rangelands. The focus of the research work for this thesis was to evaluate both "conventional" and "participatory" approaches to land-use planning in an African rangeland setting, and to assess the impact of these land-use plans in mitigating conflict and enhancing conservation of important wildlife migratory routes. Nine villages were selected for study in Northeastern Tanzanian rangelands, within the Tarangire-Manyara, Greater Serengeti and MkomaziTsavo ecosystems. Several methods were used to provide an indication of the performance of the plans, against their stated objectives of minimising land-use conflict and conserving wildlife migratory routes. Eight hundred and fifty two households, 13 "expert witnesses" and 4 representatives of planning agencies were interviewed. Several field assessment visits and focus group discussions were also carried out. Review and analysis was conducted on archive data, land-use plans technical reports and general management plans for neighbouring Parks. The results of the research presented in this thesis revealed five major findings: (1) involvement of land-use stakeholders in land use preparation was low; (2) different types of conflicts and encroachments increased after the plans were implemented; (3) Park management failed to involve adjacent villages in the preparation and implementation of Park GMPs; (4) the amount of conflict around villages where plans were in place was comparable to that around villages with no plans, suggesting that the plans made no difference to conflict; (5) overall, both participatory and conventional plans failed to achieve their objectives of mitigating conflicts and enhancing conservation of wildlife corridors and dispersal areas. The major causes of weakness and failure of the plans to achieve their desired objectives were: (l) insufficient participation oflocal communities in the planning process; (2) lack of robust of robust, transparent and accountable implementation strategies for the plans; (3) inadequately qualified rural planners; (4) lack of a comprehensive vision - "holistic approach" - to the planning process. Taking these findings into account, the author has made recommendations for an improved Buffer Zone Land-use Planning framework (BUZLUP) that could contribute to progress in mitigating conflicts and enhancing both conservation and development in Northeastern Tanzania. It is concluded, however, that high quality plans in themselves cannot ensure the successful establishment and maintenance of effective wildlife corridors. In addition to improved planning strategies such as the proposed BUZLUP framework, other broader socio-economic issues need to be addressed, including strengthened conservation education, better protection for rural people's natural resources and support for their livelihoods, equitable benefit sharing from conservation and tourism activities, and more devolution of decision-making powers to the grass-roots level in communities neighbouring conservation areas.