Public Release: 

Children benefit from living near conservation zones

Evaluating the impacts of protected areas on human well-being across the developing world

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Children who live near protected areas designated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) live in wealthier and healthier households than those who live far away from the conservation zones, say Robin Naidoo and colleagues. Their findings suggest that the practice of setting aside protected zones for wildlife and cultural conservation could also be used to tackle problems like global poverty and poor health. The researchers took a close look at environmental and socioeconomic conditions for more than 87,000 children in 34 developing countries to determine whether living near a protected area would have positive life impacts. Children who lived within 10 kilometers of a protected area with associated tourism had 17 percent higher wealth levels and a 16 percent lower likelihood of poverty than those living in similar households located further away from protected areas. Children under five years old living near multiple-use (where some natural resources can be sustainably harvested) protected areas with tourism had higher height-for-age scores by 10 percent and were 13 percent less likely to be stunted in their growth as well. Fisher et al. found no evidence of negative impacts of the protected areas on the children in any of the scenarios considered within their study.

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