Does Community-Based Conservation Shape Favorable Attitudes Among Locals? An Empirical Study from Nepal
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Like many developing countries, Nepal has adopted a community-based conservation (CBC) approach in recent years to manage its protected areas mainly in response to poor park–people relations. Among other things, under this approach the government has created new “people-oriented” conservation areas, formed and devolved legal authority to grassroots-level institutions to manage local resources, fostered infrastructure development, promoted tourism, and provided income-generating trainings to local people. Of interest to policy-makers and resource managers in Nepal and worldwide is whether this approach to conservation leads to improved attitudes on the part of local people. It is also important to know if personal costs and benefits associated with various intervention programs, and socioeconomic and demographic characteristics influence these attitudes.
We explore these questions by looking at the experiences in Annapurna and Makalu-Barun Conservation Areas, Nepal, which have largely adopted a CBC approach in policy formulation, planning, and management. The research was conducted during 1996 and 1997; the data collection methods included random household questionnaire surveys, informal interviews, and review of official records and published literature. The results indicated that the majority of local people held favorable attitudes toward these conservation areas. Logistic regression results revealed that participation in training, benefit from tourism, wildlife depredation issue, ethnicity, gender, and education level were the significant predictors of local attitudes in one or the other conservation area. We conclude that the CBC approach has potential to shape favorable local attitudes and that these attitudes will be mediated by some personal attributes.
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