Date of Award
Master of Science
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Neelam Chandra Poudyal
Donald Hodges, Omkar Joshi
Sharing the financial benefit of protected areas with local communities can be crucial in helping locals realize the benefit of conservation, improving the park-people relationship, and, more importantly, reducing human-wildlife conflict through enhanced public tolerance of wildlife. Many protected areas in some parts of the world have developed formal mechanisms to share a portion of park revenue with locals, but the effectiveness of such policy approaches is still unclear. With the case of the Buffer Zone Program in Nepal, which shares up to half of the park revenue with local communities for conservation and development, this study evaluated its contribution in promoting conservation, development, and improving the park-people relationship. Qualitative interview data from 41 key informants representing various stakeholder groups of the protected area system in Nepal and quantitative data from 2,122 households from the buffer zone of six protected areas were analyzed to meet the research objectives. Results showed a general consensus among stakeholders regarding the positive contribution of the buffer zone program despite acknowledging that the funds received from this project are too low to have substantial developmental impact in rural communities. The perceived impact of the program was realized more in terms of improving the park-people relationship, promoting conservation education, helping local people realize the benefit of the park, and developing a platform to encourage partnership with local people than fueling infrastructure development or reducing incidences of human-wildlife conflicts. Findings suggest that the effectiveness of park revenue-sharing programs could be increased by allocating funds towards compensating wildlife victims and prompting conservation education than development projects and by adopting a fair distribution of funds among user groups within the buffer zones.
Dixit, Sweta, "Perceived Contribution of Park Revenue Sharing in Promoting Conservation and Development: Evidence from Buffer Zone Program in Nepal. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2023.
Available for download on Friday, August 15, 2025