Poverty alleviation policies in Tanzania are focused on market development and local economic transformations as primary contributors to the countrys growth. These policies are intertwined with government legislation creating Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) near protected areas which encourage local people to use village land for ecotourism activities which will add value to natural resources while providing local opportunities for expanded livelihood options. Actively promoted by international conservation NGOs, WMAs are marketed as a people-friendly way to protect wildlife while encouraging conservation-friendly livelihood strategies. This study uses qualitative ethnographic methods to determine the effects of the Burunge WMA in northern Tanzania on people living in nearby villages. Results indicate that the needs and priorities of local people were not adequately or equitably identified and that WMAs actually reregulate land and resources in a way that allows external stakeholders to gain control of village assets, exclude local people, and capitalize on newly available economic opportunities. Moreover, because WMAs merge economic and conservation objectives in a way that is consistent with both the global neoliberal framework and powerful Western images and beliefs about nature and consumption, the rhetoric regarding this newest form of community-based conservation has been transformed into an officially legislated truth that is difficult to challenge. Suggestions forcountering this discourse and for future research into the effectiveness of community-based conservation as a viable mechanism for environmental protection and economic development are offered.
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