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Conservation goal can be achieved only when local communities are effectively engaged in conservation initiatives. This has led to the development of ‘Community-based conservation' (CBC) which emphasizes the role of communities in decision making. CBC involves local communities in planning, decision making, implementation and monitoring of conservation initiatives. It is a holistic approach to development that includes maintenance of socio-cultural practices, community development, promotion of indigenous knowledge, development of ownership feeling and responsibility at the community level. Nepal adopted CBC in the mid-1980s by establishing the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA). ACA was planned, designed, and continues to be successfully implemented by NTNC in Nepal, and to this day it is the only financially self-sustaining Protected Area (PA) in the country. Seeing its effectiveness, the ACA model of community-based conservation has been subsequently followed as a key protected area management model in the country.

As a proven means to enhancing community participation in PA management, NTNC helps establish and strengthen community-based institutions—Conservation Area Management Committee (CAMC), Buffer Zone User Committee (BZUC) and Community-based Anti-poaching Unit (CBAPU). Through close consultation and engagement, NTNC helps build a constructive relationship between PAs and local communities. This kind of special arrangement between park and people relations have been vital in reducing cases related to poaching, forest encroachment, illegal grazing, thus helping to secure overall biodiversity.

Ultimately at NTNC we recognize that communities need to be both local stewards and beneficiaries of conservation. To achieve this, we work on strengthening conservation capacities at various levels. Our efforts toward improved governance of natural resource management groups, livelihood enhancement of forest-dependent communities, promoting meaningful participation and equitable benefit sharing for poor and marginalized groups and for women have had significant impact in creating lasting conservation outcomes.