Community-based conservation (CBC) has been projected as the most practical approach to stem biodiversity loss in developing countries. Since CBC is 'people-centred' and experience with it is relatively new, it is important to know the views of local communities regarding implemented policies and programmes. This paper examines the attitudes of local communities toward policy and programmes implemented by a project under the CBC approach in the Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area of Nepal, based on a 1996 survey of 400 people living in it.
Overall, respondents did not have a particularly favourable perception of the community development programmes implemented. Strong support existed for ecotourism development in the Conservation Area. Respondents overwhelmingly endorsed community forestry. Wildlife protection remained a low priority amongst a significant majority of respondents. Some demographic and socio-economic factors exerted important influences on the attitudes of respondents. This study suggests that the project should continue addressing local development needs, encourage women's participation in community forestry, work toward dispute settlement of community forest-user groups, and allow hunting of pest wild animals, if it wants to win the support of local communities for long-term biodiversity conservation goals.
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