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Is the best the enemy of the good? Livelihoods perspectives on bushmeat harvesting and trade – some issues and challenges’

Working papers

This paper makes a case for bushmeat as a theme of interest to development policy. Drawing on a range of secondary sources, it argues that there two are principal reasons for development assistance to address the issue of bushmeat management: its importance in the livelihood strategies of the poor, and its relevance to wider issues of public governance in forest-rich areas. However, in view of what is known about the present levels of the trade on the condition of the resource, it is judged unlikely that the trade could play a primary role in rural transformation.
Considered from a livelihoods perspective, the balance sheet is much more positive than has often been assumed. These positive livelihoods dimensions have tended to be discounted in conservation strategies. Recent research is reviewed which supports the view that the poor benefit significantly from the trade.
A livelihoods perspective is also indicated when considering issues of forest governance. On the one hand, the favoured instruments to improve forest governance, such as timber certification and associated codes of conduct for forest industry may not be well adapted to the realities of resource use in the humid tropics, and to the tenurial contexts in question. At the same time, there are growing indications of the principles which must be applied if bushmeat is both to be actively managed and to contribute to broader improvements in public governance.

David Brown