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Is poverty more acute near parks? An assessment of infant mortality rates around protected areas in developing countries

Alex de Sherbinina1 c1

a1 Center for International Earth Science Information Network, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, P.O. Box 1000, Palisades, NY 10964, USA.

Abstract

The relationship between conservation and poverty has received extensive attention recently, and the impacts of protected areas on the welfare of communities surrounding them has been debated. I seek to contribute to this debate by using a unique sub-national database of infant mortality rates for an analysis of such mortality surrounding protected areas in developing countries. The paper tests the hypotheses that poverty rates in regions surrounding protected areas in developing countries are higher than national averages and that poverty rates are highest around large and strictly protected areas. Preliminary evidence suggests that infant mortality rates surrounding protected areas, and even those surrounding the most strictly protected areas, are not very different from national rates. Infant mortality rates are significantly higher among populations surrounding larger protected areas but the causal relationship is uncertain. Data limitations and other problems related to this kind of global analysis are discussed. Information of the kind presented in this paper can assist management authorities to assess the relative poverty surrounding protected areas in their countries so as to set priorities for poverty alleviation interventions, and may serve as a useful sampling frame for local case studies and long-term monitoring.

(Received April 23 2007)

(Reviewed June 08 2007)

(Accepted August 24 2007)

Correspondence:

c1 Center for International Earth Science Information Network, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, P.O. Box 1000, Palisades, NY 10964, USA. E-mail adesherbinin@ciesin.columbia.edu

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