Date of Award

December 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Lincoln R Larson

Committee Member

Lawrence Allen

Committee Member

Brett Wright


Protected areas across the world have been established to preserve landscapes and conserve biodiversity. However, they also are crucial resources for nearby human populations who depend on them for subsistence and to fulfill social, economic, religious, and cultural needs. The contrasting ideologies of park use and conservation among diverse stakeholders (e.g. managers and local communities) make protected areas spaces of conflict. This mixed methods study aimed to gain a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of these complex conflicts and potential solutions by focusing on the social and ecological landscapes surrounding two Indian protected areas: Dudhwa National Park (DNP in Uttar Pradesh) and Ranthambore National Park (RNP, in Rajasthan). Both parks are important tiger habitats surrounded by numerous, dense park-dependent communties.

Using a social capital framework, we assessed how intra-community relations (bonding capital among local residents) and extra-community relations (bridging capital with park managers) influence support for parks. Because both parks are tourism destinations, we also assessed communities perceptions of wildlife tourism and local residents’ beliefs about tourism impacts on their communities and parks and wildlife. And finally, as conflicts are known to impede park management and can seriously hamper relationships between stakeholders, we interviewed diverse stakeholders (e.g., local residents, park managers, NGO representations) to identify overarching sources of conflict around these parks. Collectively, this study sought to answer growing calls for developing and implementing community-based management strategies to improve conservation outcomes. Such efforts are particularly challenging in countries like India, where histories of exclusion and oppression impede participatory conservation efforts. Our analysis highlights the importance of social, cultural, and historic context in protected area management, and provides critical insights that should inform conservation strategies that promote community development while d protecting biodiversity.



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