Sustainable development: a case study of the natural resource use of Yelwa Village, Nigeria
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The world today faces many challenges. Reducing poverty and protecting the environment are prominent amongst these challenges, and consequently both are high on priority lists for many national, international, governmental and non-governmental organizations. Since the 1980s there has been an increasing awareness that environmental protection must not fly in the face of social justice, especially in developing countries, and that a system can only truly achieve sustainability if it is socially just and economically sound, as well as environmentally secure. Likewise poverty reduction at the cost of the environment is worthless in the long term. This has given rise to much more holistic approaches to both conservation and poverty reduction policies and brought the rights of communities living in or near protected areas into the international focus. However, wether it is possible to conserve biodiversity and protect habitats successfully without undermining the livelihoods of local communities, or wether it is possible to offer development aid to an impoverished region without jeopardizing their local environment, is a question which has not been resolved. This study approaches this debate by examining the relationship between the livelihoods and natural resources of a rural village adjacent to a forest reserve on the Mambilla Highlands in Nigeria. A mixture of qualitative and quantitative techniques were employed during five months spent living on location to develop a picture of the situation as it currently exists, the environmental effects of development in the village to date, and the effects of these environmental changes on people’s livelihoods. Based on this research this thesis concludes that development in a region certainly increases the vulnerability of the environment. However, rather than concluding that this makes development and environmental protection conflicting agendas, this thesis argues that this period of vulnerability presents opportunities to develop true sustainability, as effective sustainable practices can develop from the experience of resource depletion. Additionally, examples of how knowledge sharing and dialogue between western scientists and indigenous communities has the potential to facilitate and accelerate this process are discussed.