Power to Protect? Participation in Decentralized Conservation Management. The Case of Kangchenjunga Conservation Area, Nepal

FNI Report 16/2014. Lysaker, FNI, 2014, 98 p.

This report is based on a case study of participation in and decentralized management of Kangchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA) in north-eastern Nepal.  The report provides a broad theoretical framework for analysing management practices in KCA and the potential consequences for balancing conservation objectives and local development aspirations, with a focus on participation in and decentralization of PA management, common pool resource theory and a three-dimensional approach to power analysis.  The key findings are that KCA can be considered the most decentralized PA in Nepal, but that it does not constitute a fully decentralized PA, as substantial powers and rights are retained by the government conservation authority and the previous implementing institution. Moreover, although broad popular participation has been achieved in KCA, participation in the area does not amount to the highest forms or ladders of participation presented in theorybased contributions on the subject. This is linked to the degree of devolution of power in the decentralized management framework.  Finally, the report discusses the links between the decentralized management framework and the balancing of conservation and development in the area under study. It identifies several possible challenges for reconciling conservation and development, and argues that it is still too early to assess whether the system will prove sustainable in conservational, managerial and financial terms.