One of the main project goals is to increase the acceptance of the selected PAs, together with the relevant regulations and restrictions, within the communities living in and around the PAs. In addition, the local people shall benefit from investments into socio-economic measures in the vicinity of the PAs. Thus, all the communities living within or near the borders of the target PAs or that are closely linked to the PAs are considered target communities of the project. Local acceptance of the PAs could be strengthened through the implementation of approved strategies for involving local people in socio-economic development. This development must be in harmony with the rules and regulations of the PAs, Adequate socio-economic measures should be identified and implemented together with the local population and in cooperation with relevant representatives of the civil society, such as NGOs.

As part of this scheme to support local communities and their socio-economic development, the so-called Financial Participatory Approach (FPA) will be applied. FPA is a well-established and approved approach to support the socio-economic development of poor rural areas in harmony with nature protection. The basic assumption of the FPA is that nature conservation and the protection of biodiversity can only be sustainable if the people who are closely linked to the PAs (geographically, economically and culturally) respect and get involved in the conservation work. The approach involves direct financial support for local communities who take charge of their socio-economic development. It is geared to generate autonomous development dynamics which are positive, inclusive and very participatory at family, community and at regional levels (Vermaat 2015). Consequently, local ownership of local development plans and their implementation is very high and complete. This is further reinforced by entrusting the local communities with the responsibilities for planning and implementing development strategies and with the authority to decide about the use of the available (financial) resources. The FPA has proven to significantly boost the acceptance of PAs and their management plans by local communities.

On a more practical and probably more comprehensive level, the tools of the FPA are geared towards helping people to actively discover new “development actions” through internal debates, and to permanently integrate those actions into their lives, supported and motivated by a recognizable positive impact. The project does not determine the direction of the development, but supports the development process itself, which must be aligned with the principle of living constructively with the nearby PA. The project merely creates an environment for local learning, experimenting and exchanging ideas, which motivates people to discover new development strategies that fit their needs.

The implementation of this component shall start in summer 2019.

Local people are grazing cows in the village Sheshory