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Impacts of community-based conservation on local communities in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal


Approaches to the management of protected areas that involve the participation of local communities are now being widely promoted. However, the impacts of such community-based conservation initiatives on local communities remain poorly defined. This research examines the socio-economic impacts of community-based conservation within the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA), Nepal, through semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire survey with local residents, situated both within and outside the protected area. Results indicate that local communities have received a number of benefits from conservation, including improvements in access to forest resources, improved basic infrastructure such as drinking water, trails and bridges, and improvements in health, sanitation and social services. However, relatively few people (14.9%) within ACA receive direct financial income from tourism. Local communities also experience a number of costs of being involved in conservation, the most significant of which is increased crop damage by wildlife. Eighty-four percent of respondents within ACA have experienced problems of crop damage, accounting for 6% (rice) to 23% (maize) of total production. Depredation of livestock by wildlife is also experienced; mean losses per household being the equivalent of £3.9 (Rs. 479.70) each year. However, 66% of respondents within ACA reported that they had never experienced this problem. These results indicate that the socio-economic benefits of community-base approaches to conservation can outweigh the costs, even though the latter are significant. However, a participatory approach to management of problematic animal species will need to be developed within ACA, if conflicts between local communities and protected area management are to be avoided in future.