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The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) is growing in popularity as Nepal’s largest protected area. The National Trust for Nature Conservation uses the sustained revenue generation from the tourism industry to implement Integrated Conservation Development Programs (ICDP). These programs focus on promoting participatory interaction with the local villages of the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) in an attempt to develop them into sovereign and self-sustaining communities. When ACAP was first established in Ghandruk to control the rapid rate of deforestation caused by increases in population and tourism, the development efforts and empowerment activities were targeted toward hotel owners. This served to marginalize the farmers and communities unrelated to the tourism industry. This study’s purpose is to examine the impact that the tourism industry has in promoting ‘people oriented’ conservation and the attitudes of Ghandruk’s marginalized populations towards ACAP’s ICDP developments, with a focus on conservation awareness. Information was gathered through semi-structured and unstructured interviews with ACAP officials, local management committee staff and marginalized populations of women and Dalits. This information was used to focus on understanding how ACAP has incorporated participation of marginal groups in Ghandruk into conservation programs. Ultimately the felling of trees for guesthouse construction resulting in the loss of natural habitat for apex predators, the absence of scientific research, and the disregard for the environmentally oriented marginal groups of Northwestern Ghandruk has placed an emphasis on tourism based development that overshadows the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources in the Annapurna Conservation Area.
Keywords: Development studies, natural resources and conservation, natural resources management policy.
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