Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

Society and Conservation

Committee Chair

Jennifer Thomsen

Commitee Members

Keith Bosak, Theresa Floyd


voluntourism, ecotourism, social network, stakeholder engagement, conservation planning, coordination


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Mirroring trends in international tourism, alternative tourism, and ecotourism, the voluntourism industry has grown, developed and diversified significantly since 2005. Scientific attention to voluntourism has grown, too, focusing mainly on participant motivations and outcomes. However, explicit research on the outcomes and impacts voluntourism projects generate for their host communities and environments is sparse. As voluntourism becomes increasingly frequent, it is critical to design and implement projects that maximize potential for positive impacts and minimize negative impacts. This study reaches toward that goal by investigating (1) the operational characteristics of voluntourism conservation projects in Madre de Dios, Peru, a global conservation priority region, by giving (2) specific attention to their social networks and relationships with stakeholders to understand the ways in which these conditions influence each other and, ultimately, (3) the ability of voluntourism projects to effectively contribute to regional conservation needs. Some projects are well-connected to and coordinated with other conservation entities and efforts of the region, but others are disconnected and struggle to coordinate their activities with broader efforts. Operational characteristics relate to a project’s ability to communicate and coordinate with efforts of other conservation entities, implying that voluntourism leaders can adjust operations to allow for a project that, in addition to meeting participant needs, generates relevant contributions to the conservation needs of Madre de Dios.



© Copyright 2019 Alejandrina R. Ocanas