Application of Quantitative Methods in Natural Resource Management in Africa: A Review

Application of Quantitative Methods in Natural Resource Management in Africa: A Review

Elias T. Ayuk (United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa, Ghana), William M. Fonta (United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa, Ghana) and Euphrasie B. Kouame (United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa, Ghana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4852-4.ch046
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Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)’s natural resource base constitutes the sub-continent’s greatest asset. These Natural Resources (NRs), both renewable and non-renewable, are the backbone of the continent as they play very critical functions in the livelihood strategies of the people. There are a wide range of questions and issues concerning the proper management of these NRs. One of the issues relates to the economics of resource preservation, which includes questions associated with the quantifiable benefits of resource preservation, the environmental costs and benefits of Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) strategies, the economic impact of land use changes, and valuation of ecosystem goods and services. The other issue concerns the ecosystem and economic system interaction. Particular themes of interest are the co-management of natural resources, trans-boundary natural resource management, and the management of resources to reconcile revenue generation, social development, and environmental services of natural resources. This chapter reviews the literature on quantitative approaches that have been undertaken to enhance the understanding of selected Natural Resource Management (NRM) problems on the continent. The review suggests that a wide range of quantitative approaches have been applied in the context of the African resource economics literature, but this review also identifies some specific areas that have received little attention.
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2. Natural Resource Management

It would be too ambitious to attempt an examination of all key NRM challenges and critical issues in just one chapter. Therefore, this chapter addresses only a select number of NRM considerations that are relevant to SSA. Specifically, this review focuses on two areas:

  • 1.

    The economics of resource preservation and management and

  • 2.

    Ecosystem and economic system interaction.

2.1. Economics of Resource Preservation and Management

Concern over the sustainability of the earth’s endowments has been reflected in economic literature at least from the time of Malthus. For Malthus, population was increasing faster than the scarce resources of nature to sustain human economic activity. However, while many scholars argued that recent advancement in technology was likely to prevent the Malthusian apocalypse and therefore, we need not worry about nature’s conservation, others are in support of Malthus predictions owing to the uncertainty and irreversibility associated with NR exploitation and hence, the need for conservation (Hotelling, 1931; Dasgupta and Heal, 1978; Dasgupta, 1979; Fisher et al. 1972; Krutilla, 1976). Recent theoretical contributions to the later debate have been extensively studied but not limited to: what are the quantifiable benefits of resource preservation (for e.g., forest, fishing, oil, and gas)? What are the environmental costs and benefits of soil and water conservation strategies? What are the economic impacts of land use changes? How do we value ecosystem goods and services? The proposed review will be based on this set of questions.

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