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Evaluating the legacy of an integrated conservation and development project around a tiger reserve in India


Independent evaluations of the impact and legacy of large donor-funded integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs) are critically important but rarely undertaken. The India Eco-Development Project around Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR-IEDP) in southern India received US$ 6.0 million, of which 43.2% was spent on community-based conservation activities. The PTR-IEDP was internally evaluated as ‘successful’. Questionnaire surveys and on-site visits were used to independently evaluate its development impact and legacy, two years after the IEDP ended. Questionnaire surveys were administered to a random sample of 90 respondents from a treatment group who participated in and benefited from IEDP, and to 90 respondents from a control group who did not participate in IEDP. Among the treatment group, 71.1% of respondents were aware of IEDP's objectives, but receipt of community benefits did not influence their attitudes to conservation. Instead, their attitudes were best explained by previous experience of human-wildlife conflict, their age and their participation in an ecotourism-based profession. Furthermore, only 36.4% of the 55 community benefits sampled were still being used or maintained. Future investments in ICDPs, or any similar conservation and developmental projects need to carefully justify any of the developments they implement, and to use appropriate indicators and study design to measure project legacy.

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*Correspondence: Sanjay Gubbi Tel: +91 80 26715364 Fax: +91 80 26715255 e-mail:
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