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Eco-bursaries as incentives for conservation around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya



Incentives used to encourage local residents to support conservation range from integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs), which indirectly connect improved livelihoods with biodiversity protection, to direct payments for ecosystem services (PES). A unique hybrid between these two strategies, the Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Ecotourism Scheme (ASSETS), provides secondary-school bursaries to encourage stewardship of a biodiverse highly-imperiled Kenyan forest. Household surveys and semi-structured interviews were used to assess the effectiveness of ASSETS by comparing attitudes and perceptions toward the forest among scheme beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries. The most commonly identified benefit of the forest was resource extraction (for example fuelwood), followed by ecosystem services (such as source of rain). Those in favour of forest clearing tended not to be ASSETS beneficiaries, were less-educated, and were less likely to mention ecosystem services and tourism as forest benefits. ASSETS appears to shape pro-conservation attitudes among beneficiaries and foster a sense of responsibility toward the forest. Challenges for ASSETS are similar to those faced by many conservation and development projects, namely unsteady funding and the risk that the extremely poor may be overlooked. ASSETS may serve as an effective hybrid between the PES and ICDP approaches, and such educational support provides a promising conservation incentive.


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*Correspondence: Dr Michelle M. Jackson Tel: +1 828 734 4460 e-mail:


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Eco-bursaries as incentives for conservation around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya



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