Integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs) involve the establishment of parks and reserves with protective or buffer zones around them. Socio-buffering provides local residents with alternatives to traditional land-use activities, but the actual implementation of socio-buffering programmes is difficult.
Socio-economic requirements and constraints to socio-buffering were assessed for the Mantadia National Park in eastern Madagascar based on five criteria. Previously unused lands for compensating people for loss of access to areas within the park were found to be insufficient. While there existed institutions and programmes for developing substitute land-use activities, successful adoption of these activities was crucially dependent on their economic viability. Socio-buffering activities need to not only provide goods that are substitutes for goods that are traditionally consumed, but they also need to be at least as profitable as traditional economic efforts. Also, if land and labour are not a constraint to agricultural expansion, socio-buffering activities can themselves result in increased deforestation. Finally, the long-term effectiveness of socio-buffering was likely to be dependent on the satisfaction of a number of stake-holder interests, and on explicit linkages developed between socio-buffering activities and conservation.