Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Keith Bosak

Commitee Members

Stephen F. Siebert, Matthew McKinney


Nanda Devi, Community, Resource Conservation, Community Based Conservation


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Biodiversity | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Today’s global political environment places a high value on social equality and economic well- being. In this climate, emphasizing biodiversity conservation over socio-economic development through exclusionary methods of habitat protection has become ethically questioned and politically dangerous. The goal of this research was to understand the barriers and opportunities for local involvement in the management of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in Uttarakhand, India. We attempted to understand the feasibility of local community involvement in the management of the NDBR from the perspective of policy-making organizations and that of the local communities.

Key findings highlight barriers to community participation at all the stakeholder group levels. We argue that these barriers are introduced first due to the dated and rigid institution and structure within which participation practices are initiated. These barriers present themselves as: the conflicting missions and goals among stakeholders across the various scales; differences in the amount of decision-making power possessed and desired by the various scales; inflexible policies and procedures; and constrained human and monetary resources. Over time these berries have led to perceptual and attitudinal barriers at all scales that hinder the potential for successful participatory procedures for the future. These barriers arise from the incorrect perceptions of community composition and a superficial understanding of their complex structure; from over looking historical livelihood strategies when determining participation programs; and finally from the incomplete conceptualization of management organizations by communities. Ultimately these barriers have led to stereotypical “us versus them” polarizations.

Overlooking inter-scalar heterogeneity and community complexities before the development and implementation of participatory programs can lead to unintended and long lasting barriers to the community engagement process. There is an urgent need to review the success of participatory procedures and to refine their process. Findings suggest a need to shift away from the impact reduction focus of income generation activities. A greater variety of opportunities that better incorporate needs of the community, such as skill based youth training or links to sustainable markets for local products, are needed. Ultimately, greater flexibility at the state level of the forest department and decision-making authority at the community level could provide for more innovative problem solving.



© Copyright 2016 Trisha Singh