Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation


University of Montana


Visitation to protected areas is on the rise globally, and the Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia is part of that trend. Within Aysén, Cerro Castillo National Reserve is one of the protected areas that has seen the largest increase in visitation in recent years. Protected area tourism catalyzes changes in surrounding communities, and it is important to understand resident perceptions of these changes in order to inform management planning and to implement effective, equitable conservation policy. In this study, I use qualitative research methods to investigate local residents’ perceptions of social, economic, and ecological changes spurred by or related to increased tourist visitation. Results yielded mixed reactions to and interpretations of changes. Major themes included the inextricable linkages between access and power, the role of external influence in local reality, and the transition of rural economies and values. This case study highlights how historical, cultural, political, and economic factors shape the ways local residents experience tourism development and conservation, which contributes to ongoing debates about protected area tourism as a form of sustainable economic development.



© Copyright 2018 Heidi Blair