Ian Munanura

DEPT. OF forest ecosystems & society


I lead the International Program for Ecotourism, Endangered Species and Family Wellbeing at Oregon State University. Our program aims to identify and communicate the critical family resiliency and wellbeing constraints that may be responsible for ecologically destructive forest-use behavior of rural forest-adjacent communities, and the remedial potential of ecotourism and community engagement. We work with local partners worldwide to conduct applied research in forest landscapes with exceptional concentrations of endemic and endangered wildlife species that are experiencing loss of habitat due to human livelihood activities.  We use the Family Stress Theory to explore family stressing events, and family capability constraints (both physical and emotional) that may be responsible for family wellbeing crisis, resulting in desperate and destructive forest-use behavior to maintain livelihoods. In addition, our research program explores the potential for ecotourism (social entrepreneurship), and community engagement (participatory forest management, managed access to non-timber forest products) to promote integrated conservation of endangered species and human wellbeing. Current research projects are in Rwanda (communities neighboring Mountain Gorilla habitat in Volcanoes National Park), Uganda (communities neighboring Mountain Gorilla habitat in Mgahinga National Park), Indonesia (communities neighboring Orangutan habitat in Gunung Leuser National Park), and Oregon, USA (rural communities within the Northwest Forest Plan region). We are also developing projects in Malaysia (communities neighboring Orangutan habitat in Sabah region of Borneo Island). Future research will expand our focus to include new sites in Madagascar, South America and other regions, where critically endangered wildlife species continue to be threatened by human livelihood activities.

Selected publications

Munanura, I. E., Backman K. F., Hallo, C. J. & Powell, B. R. (2016) Perceptions of tourism revenue sharing impacts on Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda: a Sustainable Livelihoods framework. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 24: 1709-1726.

Backman K. F., & Munanura, I. E. (2015) Introduction to the special issues on ecotourism in Africa over the past 30 years. Journal of Ecotourism 14: 95-99.

Munanura, I. E., Backman K. F., Moore, D. D., Hallo, C. J., & Powell, B. R. (2014) Household poverty dimensions influencing forest dependence at Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. An application of the sustainable livelihoods framework. Natural Resources 5: 1031-1047.

Munanura, I. E., Backman, K. F & Sabuhoro, E. (2013) Managing tourism growth in endangered species habitats of Africa: Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Current Issues in Tourism 16: 700-718.