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Local People and Protected Areas : A case study from Miraflor, Nicaragua

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Title: Local People and Protected Areas : A case study from Miraflor, Nicaragua
Author: Saalismaa, Nina
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Limnology and Environmental Protection
Thesis level: Master's thesis
Abstract: The study analyses the needs and expectations of different people and different interest groups affected by conservation schemes, and examines the possibilities of taking the local opinions into account in the management of protected areas. Theoretically, the study relies on those approaches that aim to link the issues of nature protection with the questions of social sustainability and the livelihood requirements of local people.

The study explains how the concept of protected areas has changed during the history and how the discourses on protected areas are linked to North-South issues. Protected areas management was long based on the concepts of strict protection developed in the first protected areas. The amount of protected areas in the world has increased significantly during the past decades. Together with population growth this has led into a situation where the majority of protected areas are inhabited by humans. Consequently, the participation and rights of local people have become important topics in protected areas discourse.

The issue is studied in detail through a case study of Miraflor protected area in Nicaragua. The study describes how the protection scheme of this particular area has been constructed and how the local attitudes toward protection have evolved from past to present. The research sets the case of Miraflor into the broader context of conservation and sustainability, in order to make suggestions on management in inhabited protected areas. The case study in based on qualitative research methods, such as thematic interviews, participant observation and written documentation. There are almost 5000 inhabitants in Miraflor, and the area is into a large extent under agricultural use. Land in Miraflor is in the hands of private landowners, as it is in most of the other protected areas in Nicaragua. The difficult economical and social situation of small-scale landowners and landless people has left them little choice between nature conservation and livelihood. While institutional attention to the zone has increased more local people have started to be in favour of the protection of the area. However, they expect support from the state and other institutions in bearing the costs of protection. Some of the important reasons for the acceptance of protection lie in the potential benefits associated to protection, such as new rural development projects, employment possibilities and tax exemptions.

The protection of inhabited protected areas cannot be achieved with mere restrictions. Instead,local people have to be offered feasible and attractive possibilities to change their natural resource use practices so that both human needs and nature conservation objectives are fulfilled.

Keywords: protected areas, local people, social equity, participation, Nicaragua
URI: URN:NBN:fi-fe20001022
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/18927
Date: 2000-01
Copyright information: This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.
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