Guthiga, Paul. 2009. “Opportunity costs of conservation: The case of protected area management in the Kakamega Forest, Western Kenya.” EFD policy Brief
Knowing the local opportunity costs of restricting access to forest land and resources for conservation purposes is an important input to the design of cost-effective conservation schemes that minimize adverse effects on poor forest users.
The Kakamega Forest is the only remaining tropical rainforest fragment in Western Kenya and hosts large numbers of endemic animal and plant species. Protected areas were established decades ago in order to preserve the forest's unique biodiversity from being converted into agricultural land by the regions large number of small-scale farmers. Nonetheless, recent research shows that degradation continues at alarming rates. Our findings suggest that a more flexible approach to determining the price of recently established forest product extraction permits would greatly enhance management efficiency without significantly compromising local wellbeing.