Environmental Management

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 219–230 | Cite as

Examining Marginalized Communities and Local Conservation Institutions: The Case of Nepal’s Annapurna Conservation Area

  • Smriti DahalEmail author
  • Sanjay K. Nepal
  • Michael A. Schuett


In developing countries, participatory conservation initiatives have been criticized for many reasons, mainly for excluding marginalized groups which have led to unequal benefits. Using concepts from the literature on participation, conservation, and political ecology, this research explored the participation of marginal groups, i.e., poor, women, lower caste, and landless, in management institutions in Nepal’s Annapurna Conservation Area. Field work for this research was conducted through the use of interviews and participant observation during August–October 2010. Results show that although marginal groups were involved in local management institutions, their representation was minimal and had not led to meaningful participation or empowerment to influence the decisions being made in conservation and development programs. Our study findings indicate that the involvement of marginal groups in local initiatives is complex and influenced by several factors. The study concludes that the Annapurna Conservation Area Project needs to re-orient its conservation projects by adopting a more inclusive form of participation and move beyond the quota system.


Annapurna Conservation Area Community-based conservation Marginal groups Participation Political ecology 



We would like to thank Dr. Siddhartha Bajracharya for his assistance in Kathmandu and at the National Trust for Nature Conservation. We are also grateful to the ACAP staff in Ghandruk and Pokhara for all their assistance on the research. We sincerely thank the people of Ghandruk who shared their perspectives and time with us within the ACA. We would also like to thank Texas AgriLife Research at Texas A&M University for their funding support.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

We have met all ethical guidelines for the research and adhered to the current laws and legal requirements of Nepal and the Annapurna Conservation Area.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Smriti Dahal
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sanjay K. Nepal
    • 2
  • Michael A. Schuett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences, Center for Socioeconomic Research and EducationTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental ManagementUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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