The Virunga Landscape in east Africa comprises three contiguous protected areas across three countries, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. It is a protected, biodiverse ecological region home to endangered species, such as the mountain gorilla, but some people still poach, hunt and illegally access resources in the park. A new study by researchers from the Penn State College of Health and Human Development sheds light on motivations for why people participate in or refrain from illegal forest activity within protected parks.

The team, led by Assistant Professor of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management Edwin Sabuhoro, found that improved life satisfaction significantly reduces livelihood-based illegal forest use, whereas traditional values and cultural practices significantly increase illegal forest use for livelihood needs.

The researchers published their work in the journal Forests.

Read more: Improved life satisfaction may decrease illegal forest use in protected areas | Penn State University (