While biodiversity and ecosystem services derived from the natural environment are the backbones of West African rural livelihood, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, conflicts, and climate change threaten the continued provision of ecosystem services. This threat creates an urgent need to safeguard the integrity of the environment. Evaluating the effectiveness of environmental conservation projects is central towards designing and scaling-up successful conservation projects. Using secondary literature and project reports, we reviewed ongoing and completed conservation projects in the West African sub-region. Scientific work on incentives for ecosystem services in sub-Saharan Africa typically focuses on Southern and Eastern Africa, leaving Western Africa underserved. This study fills this literature gap by compiling lessons from conservation projects in West Africa to offer region-specific incentives that should inform the design of conservation projects in the region. The study shows that the way forward is a holistic, sustainable development approach that mirrors and meets strategies outlined in Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 5, 8, 13, and 17: No Poverty, End Hunger and Promote Sustainable Agriculture, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Climate Action, and Partnerships for the Goals, respectively.
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