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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 323-353

Nature's Discontents in Nepal

Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester, Roscoe Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Ben Campbell
Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester, Roscoe Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester M13 9PL
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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In the last two decades, nature conservation has adapted to new demands for social inclusion, and people-friendly protected area manage­ment. This article examines how participatory conservation has introduced such ideas in the form of buffer zones and policies to make conservation more amenable to local people's interests in Nepal. It looks at contrasting institu­tional situations of an old national park under reform (Langtang), a new na­tional park combined with a conservation area (Makalu-Barun), and a conservation area of high tourist interest (Annapurna). The article draws on extensive ethnographic knowledge in the first case, and discusses the experi­ence of interactions with local villagers during treks in the other cases, to question the responsiveness of participatory conservation to local people's needs, and their perceptions of changed relationships to their environments under these different regulatory regimes. It argues that the framework in which material incentives are provided for villagers to forego traditional en­vironmental entitlements, fails to recognise the cultural transformation en­tailed in constituting the environment as an object (for protection), external to people's varied kinds of interactive practice. The aim of integrating indige­nous knowledge with conservation goals is shown to be elusive when culture is seen as a resource for conservation, rather than a view on environmental relationships.

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