Discourses on nature protection mainly focus on the effectiveness of protected areas models in reaching their central goal, which is to protect the nature. Little attention is given to the influence of nature protection methods on conflict escalation.
The focus of this paper is the influence that protected areas have on the local population in West Subsaharan Africa. More precisely, relying on a structured, focused comparison, the thesis investigates whether the design and implementation that relies on a community-based approach is more effective in preventing conflict escalation than the design and implementation based on the conservationist approach, in the West African context.
Two protected areas, implementing two very different approaches to nature protection are investigated: (i) the W Park between Burkina Faso, Niger and Benin which was created on a conservationist model; becoming a reserve with restricted access in order to keep the nature protected from external interferences. And (ii) the APT (Transboundary Protected Area), situated between Guinea and Guinea Bissau which was founded on a community-based model; following the idea that the population needs to get involved in every step of the park implantation.
Based on the analyses it is suggested that the community-based approach applied in a correct manner, is more effective in preventing conflict escalation. However, the community-based approach has many pitfalls. If not applied correctly it could create inequities that potentially could make it as vulnerable to conflict escalation as the implementation and design based on the conservationist approach.