|Town/Region||Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), Tirunelveli|
|Date||29 Oct 2008|
The critique of protectionism that emerged in the 1980s has spawned an array of conservation strategies that promote, to various degrees, the welfare and cooperation of the people living in and around protected areas. Such strategies provide a mix of conservation and development objectives and employ a range of tactics. A variety of terms have been used to describe these efforts to reconcile protected area management with local needs and aspirations. Integrated Conservation and Development Program (ICDP) is seen as a collective description for such efforts. Despite the prominence of such strategies and strong arguments for and against their effectiveness, there have been few quantitative evaluations of their successes and failures taking into account the perceptions of the local stakeholders. It is vital for us to understand if such projects have positive influence on stake-holder’s attitude towards conservation. A five year ICDP (1994-1999), extended by another two years (1999-2001), was implemented at Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR). Our project, six years after the project funding period, will study the sustainability of the project by examining the perspectives of villagers to see how much the ICDP has positively influenced stakeholder attitudes towards the forests and forest conservation.
Our project will test a major assumption of ICDPs that certain incentives will influence communities’ attitude towards biodiversity conservation. It would also revisit and evaluate the longer-term sustainability of community benefits such as crop protection measures, biomass generation benefits etc. that were provided through the ICDP. The Village Forest Committees (VFC) which are community institutions formed through ICDP serves as micro-credit organisations which enable the community to procure small loans with low interest rates apart form the conservation goals. Hence it may be looked at, by the beneficiaries as another micro credit organization and whatever development associated with the ICDP may not be seen as incentives for biodiversity conservation at all. An assessment and documentation of attitudes and perspectives of local stake-holders will help Protected Area managers to set priorities for guiding future investments in forest conservation.
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