Impact of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining in Protected Areas

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CHALLENGE

Artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) is an important source of income for millions of poor people around the world. The past decade has seen increasing numbers of individuals and households turn to ASM, and this trend is likely to grow in the face of high mineral prices, population growth, poverty and climate change. Because ASM activities contribute to poverty reduction in remote rural areas, efforts to simply eradicate the activity tend to fail.

However ASM tends to  destroy and degrade forest ecosystems (through habitat destruction, the use of toxic chemicals, pollution of waterways, etc) and threatens the practices on which mining populations depend (for example, gathering firewood, bushmeat hunting, timbering for construction, etc). It is also a growing driver for internal migration and colonization of frontier forest lands that may lead to permanent land clearance.

APPROACH

With PROFOR support, the World Bank's Africa regional staff contracted WWF and Estelle Levin Ltd to conduct studies in Liberia and Gabon to analyze the impacts of artisanal mining activities on high-value natural landscapes and the people who live nearby. Drawing lessons from the assessment of two national parks (Ndangui in Gabon and Sapo National Park in Liberia) and existing literature on succesful park management, the case studies, the global solutions study and the methodolgical toolkit offer recommendations on how to reconcile socio-economic development based on artisanal mining and preservation of important ecological sites.

MAIN FINDINGS

The study looked at 36 countries and found that artisanal and small scale mining was ta