Buffer zone income dynamics for the sub-district producer community: Implications for rural off-farm income, income inequality and the development of household agriculture
This paper explores the role of buffer zones in household welfare in Zimbabwe by using primary household level data collected between November and December 2010 from communities that share boundaries with Nyatana Game Park. The descriptive statistics suggest that the contribution of buffer zone activities to household income may be significant, with a positive correlation to household agricultural income for communities that reside inside or close to the Park. Using the Gini decomposition approach and Lorenz curves, the paper further suggest that buffer zone income may be capable of contributing to more equally distributed incomes for rural communities who share boundaries with Game Parks. The implied message is that buffer zones may provide active livelihood sources capable of financing rural household agriculture and reducing income inequality. However, this potential may not be realized because of the current buffer zone design status (created for local secondary use, not for commercial primary use), restrictive policies, high predation, poorly defined buffer zone boundaries and poor institutional support. Need therefore arises to address current barriers as suggested by regression estimates for correlates of household income. This will promote households’ adaptation abilities hence marrying conservation and rural development using positive harvests from buffer zones as incentives for wildlife conservation.
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