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Just Published: Changing governance, changing inequalities: Protected area co-management and access to forest ecosystem services: a Madagascar case study


  • Respondents considered provisioning ES most important.
  • Respondents also valued regulating and cultural ES.
  • Institutions and social identity had greatest impact on ES access.
  • VOI members and individuals who knew VOI committee members had greater ES access.

Access, in reference to Ecosystem services (ES), is defined as the capacity to gain benefits from the environment. There has been a global shift in natural resource governance, particularly increased co-management of protected areas (PAs). Yet there has been little research on how this change may be affecting access to ES. We aim to fill this research gap by considering: (a) what ES are considered most important, (b) what factors are important in determining whether a person can access ES, and (c) how rules and regulations regarding ES access are decided and enforced.

Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using questionnaires, focus groups and interviews with stakeholders in a case study PA in Madagascar, co-managed by local community associations (VOIs) and an NGO. Data analysis was framed around the IPBES framework and access factors.

Respondents considered provisioning services most important, but also valued cultural and regulating services. Institutions and social identity had the largest impact on access to ES. VOI members and individuals who knew VOI committee members had greater access to ES than non-members. Findings show that co-management may be shifting ES access inequalities rather than reducing them, and we outline a number of challenges relating to PA co-management.

Ecosystem ServicesVolume 30, Part A, April 2018, Pages 137–148 ; Caroline Ward, Lindsay StringerGeorge Holmes