Yves Gakunde, Ph.D., is a 2020 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Beth A. Kaplin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Jean Kayira, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Herman Musahara, Ph.D., Committee Member


Ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, environmental markets, attitudes and behavior change, socioeconomic wellbeing, fence and fine, community based-conservation, stakeholder participation in conservation

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The demand for ecosystem services (ES) by communities around the world especially from developing countries is increasing, and creates conflict between protected ecosystem management and community socioeconomic wellbeing needs, particularly around protected areas. Taking into consideration globalization, capitalism, weak policies, and population growth as some of the majors driving factors to land change, increased demand for ES comes in part from societies’ changing economic demands and opportunities, such as food and commercial crop production, timber extraction, urbanization, and infrastructural development. Many biodiversity conservation approaches and initiatives have been used to protect and maintain healthy ecosystems. While the fence and fine approach has been an instrumental tool in biodiversity conservation, it has decreased access to protected area (PA) resources and has contributed to conflicts between biodiversity conservation and the need to meet socioeconomic wellbeing of people living around PAs. This highlights the importance of local community participation in PA management to achieve effectiveness. The participatory approach has been instrumental in designing environmental markets such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) approaches. However, there is a need to better understand how environmental markets such as PES can be used for effective management of ecosystems while ensuring that those relying on ES for their livelihood have their needs met. This research was undertaken to contribute to understanding of PES approaches in the context of poor communities and protected areas. A mixed method research design with surveys, interviews, and focus groups was employed for data collection in communities around Gishwati-Mukura National Park, Rwanda, gazette in 2015. Results revealed that those with land adjacent to the park have negative perceptions about the new PA mainly due to the lack of communication between local members and those involved in PA management, participation in decision making, and the uncertainty about direct benefits that the new PA will bring to these communities. Many interviewees have been negatively affected by the PA (either by not receiving any compensation for the damage caused by crop raiding or losing their lands for the extension of the boundaries of the PA.) Some reported the potential benefits of having a PA especially the expansion of the tourism industry which they believe will bring infrastructure, jobs, and increased cash flow into the communities. These motivations give hope to local communities and provide incentives for involvement in a PES scheme as a tool to improve socioeconomic wellbeing while at the same time achieving effectiveness in the management of this PA. This research highlights the need for understanding the various motivations of stakeholders and how to ensure their participation in designing and implementing the scheme. Seven factors were identified in this research as enabling factors for a successful implementation of a PES scheme in poor rural communities settled around Gishwati forest. Those factors are: 1) improvement in livelihoods (associated with income, crop production, land ownership and land use), 2) nature of incentives, 3) community advocacy, 4) social cohesion, 5) governance structure, 6) socio-economic development opportunities, and 7) stakeholder engagement. This research yielded practical and managerial insights important for a successful PES scheme, as well as theoretical contributions to understanding PES effectiveness for PA management and conflict reduction.


Yves Gakunde

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0002-0293-654