Involving Indigenous Peoples in Protected Area Management: Comparative Perspectives from Nepal, Thailand, and China
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Despite over two decades of efforts towards involving indigenous and traditional peoples in protected area management, there are few successful examples. Several international principles and guidelines on indigenous peoples' involvement in protected areas exist. However, because of the lack of evaluation of whether or not these principles and guidelines have been put into practice, there is hardly any information that indicates the actual involvement of indigenous peoples in protected areas. This paper attempts to compare efforts in partnership between indigenous peoples and protected area authority in three Asian countries: Nepal, Thailand, and China. It shows that the involvement of indigenous peoples is more successful where park planning is participatory and where political and socioeconomic reforms are underway. Indigenous peoples are in conflict with park authorities where park management is centralized and nonparticipatory. Unless concrete efforts are made to address livelihood issues of indigenous peoples living in and around protected areas, park management aimed to protect wildlife will rarely succeed. Participatory park management that involves indigenous peoples and that addresses livelihood issues of indigenous communities will ultimately succeed in its efforts toward wildlife conservation.
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