Laura Becarra is undertaking a PhD with the Department of Society and Conservation at Montana University through ALERT's Facilitated Research Program.
The purpose of this research is to explore the concept of equity in the context of nature based tourism (NBT), using a case study of ALERT & Lion Encounter in Livingstone, Zambia. Specifically, the various conceptualizations of equity are identified and their influence on NBT expectations, decision-making, and outcomes are analyzed.
Critical theory is discussed as a way to analyse the fundamental traditions (ethics, distributive justice and procedural justice) that shape how equity is conceptualized, and systems thinking is presented to better understand equity with NBT. Since NBT benefit distribution demonstrates a link between decision-making power, benefit distribution, and equity, NBT governance is also addressed.
The case study is expected to demonstrate how equity is conceptualized in NBT decision making and benefit distribution but also how equity contributes to broader tourism, conservation and development discussions.
Laura will be based in Livingstone, Zambia, for the next month or so and will be undertaking interviews with key stakeholders as she assesses our benefit sharing programs to date, and how they impact local perceptions of our work. We hope this study will enable us to improve our benefit sharing programs in the future to maximize support for conservation efforts.