Distribution of benefits based on household participation roles in decentralized conservation within Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project, Nepal
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- Parker, P. & Thapa, B. Environ Dev Sustain (2011) 13: 879. doi:10.1007/s10668-011-9296-6
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area is located in the remote and sparsely populated mountainous region of Eastern Nepal. It has been locally managed as a decentralized Integrated Conservation and Development Project since 2006, the first of its kind in Asia. Major international donor agencies sponsor programs to empower and strengthen the capacity of local communities to manage their natural resources, while concurrently improving livelihood opportunities. We surveyed 205 randomly selected households throughout the project area to assess the factors that influence household participation roles in management and management groups, and to evaluate how benefits from program involvement were distributed among the community. Overall, the distribution of benefits was unequal: households with higher level participation roles had increased access to financial credit and capacity development trainings. Social variables such as age, level of education among head of households, the highest level education among household adults, and household size predicted participation. The region is economically homogeneous; therefore, economic factors such as remittances, off-farm income and the quantity of landholdings or livestock did not predict household participation roles. Our results demonstrate the importance of targeting and empowering disadvantaged households in decentralized conservation programs, including educating members about the relationship between participation and equitable distribution of benefits.