Community-Centered Sustainable Ecotourism Planning in the Bossou Forest Reserve, Guinea, West Africa

Destina Samani, Keith Bosak, Sarah J. Halvorson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Forest reserves are spaces of conservation and are often spaces of ecotourism as well. Evidence suggests that local community participation in the conservation of the forest reserve space tends to break down under weak ecotourism sector management. The Bossou Forest Reserve (BFR) in Guinea, West Africa has deteriorated considerably due to the fragmentation of the reserve and the inexorable decline in Bossou chimpanzee populations since the 1970s. The situation is largely attributable to several complex and interrelated factors, including the lack of established processes to support meaningful community participation in conservation and ecotourism planning. Ecotourism planning, with the participation of local communities, is considered to strengthen the management of the BFR and conservation connectivity. This paper reports on an approach to sustainable ecotourism planning of the BFR using the Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) framework to determine the drivers of change and livelihood concerns. Fieldwork undertook in 2019 entailed concept mapping activities which were followed by a participatory geographic information system (PGIS) approach to support community-scale ecotourism planning that considers the multiple needs of stakeholders. Data analysis resulted in a community-centered situational assessment and classification of opportunities, both of which inform ecotourism planning and social-ecological resilience. The study provides baseline data for developing a robust ecotourism management plan capable of coping with the changing internal and external stressors. PGIS-based ecotourism planning can support community priorities and is potentially applicable to other West African areas with similar ecological and livelihood settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4615
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Bossou chimpanzees
  • Guinea
  • Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC)
  • West Africa
  • ecotourism planning
  • forest reserve
  • participatory mapping

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