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'You can't buy conservation,' suggests survey of Africa's rain forest parks

DURHAM, N.C. -- Economic assistance to areas surrounding Africa's rain forest parks does not, as currently applied, contribute to their health, suggests an extensive survey of park scientists and managers. Rather, the survey found the most successful parks are those with public support and strong law enforcement. The survey's authors also said that their findings indicate that careful ecological and compliance monitoring and stable long-term funding are key to park success.

The survey involved sending questionnaires to scientists and park managers, and gathering satellite imagery and other data on the parks. It will be published in the May 2005 issue of the journal Biological Conservation and was posted online in December 2004.

Authors of the paper were Thomas Struhsaker, Paul Struhsaker and Kirstin Siex. Thomas Struhsaker is a research scientist in Duke University's Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy; his brother Paul is a marine biologist, biostatistician, and private consultant based in Quebec; Siex is at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. The study was supported by the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science of Conservation International.

The researchers included data on 16 African parks and wildlife preserves obtained from 36 scientists and managers, who collectively had 567 years of experience in conservation and park management.

"We undertook the survey because, although there had been many financial audits of such parks, no one had ever audited how successful their strategies are," said Struhsaker. "Our approach was not the ideal way to conduct this study, but it was the only realistic approach given limitations in time and money. To do this study properly would take a least a decade and millions of dollars.

"However, this study does reveal what very knowledgeable people with extensive field experience think about the factors that contribute to park success," he said. "We hope these initial f
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Contact: Dennis Meredith
dennis.meredith@duke.edu
919-681-8054
Duke University
28-Mar-2005


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