Protected areas: a resource or constraint for local people?

Khan, Muhammad Siddiq and Bhagwat, Shonil A. (2010). Protected areas: a resource or constraint for local people? Mountain Research and Development, 30(1) pp. 14–24.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-09-00024.1

Abstract

We investigated local people’s perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes toward conservation planning and management in Chitral Gol National Park in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. A literature review was undertaken to unravel the historic drivers behind the formation of this protected area. Key informant interviews and questionnaire surveys were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of current governance approaches adopted by the park management authorities. Community-based questionnaire surveys and key-informant interviews focused on local communities’ knowledge and awareness of the objectives of the park, people’s role in decision-making, social characteristics, and resource use structures. The information from these surveys was evaluated within the context of good governance and sustainability of park management. Results show a lack of awareness and a low level of participation in protected area management, but a high degree of willingness in the communities to participate in conservation activities. An analysis of the survey data suggests that the park authorities enforce strict protection measures within the park, but this approach lacks a strong vision of sustainability. The surveys reveal that the local people have a very strong sense of belonging to the place and are willing to contribute to the protection of the PA. A large majority of the respondents rely on electronic media as their main source of information, which could potentially form the best medium for conservation campaigning in the region. With these findings in mind, we propose changes to the current governance model for effective and sustainable management of the park in the future.

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