Understanding the link between benefits from protected areas and their relationship with surrounding communities: An exploration in Costa Rica

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PARKS, ISSN: 0960-233X, Vol: 22, Issue: 1, Page: 79-88

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http://parksjournal.com/parks-22-1/; http://hdl.handle.net/10669/30399
Molina Murillo, Sergio Andrés; Fernández Otárola, Mauricio; Shreeve, Kelly N.
Communities; Costa Rica; Ecosystem services; Environmental benefits; Protected areas; Socioeconomic benefits
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article description
Protected areas are an essential strategy in preserving natural resources. A central aspect of protected area management is to maintain and improve their relationship with surrounding communities given that local conflicts often occur over the existence or expansion of protected areas due to land-use restrictions. This study seeks to understand the link between perceived socioeconomic and environmental benefits from protected areas and the perceived strength of the relationship between 12 of these communities and their corresponding protected areas in Costa Rica. In total, 365 door-to-door interviews were conducted to collect data, and a logistic model and correlations were used to analyse the results. We found there is a significant link between the strength of the relationship between the community and protected area and the number of perceived socioeconomic benefits from the protected area; however, such a link does not exist with environmental benefits. This finding suggests that policy makers and protected area managers need to better develop and explain, in a participatory and integrated fashion, socioeconomic benefits from protected areas to communities since the successful long-term management and survival of protected areas hinges on these relationships. In this way, the desired goals of preserving habitats and biodiversity can be supported.