Local communities living adjacent to protected areas (PA) play a vital role in biodiversity conservation. Understanding communities’ use and perceptions of a PA will increase its conservation effectiveness through reducing anthropogenic pressures and improving park-people relationship. This study assessed local communities’ dependency on the PA and perceptions of benefits and costs accrued from the PA. Using a distance-based stratified random sampling, a total of 230 households from 10 villages around the Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary (IWS), in Myanmar, were interviewed. Results showed that 51.3% of local households were dependent on the PA for household income generation and their dependency was determined by the landscape ecology of the residential place. Communities living close to the alluvial area relied the most on the PA due to their lack of permanent agricultural land. Results also showed that although people generated income from the PA, their appreciations of PA’s benefits were not significant. However, communities’ perceptions of the costs incurred from the PA varied significantly with their resource dependency level, distance from the PA, gender and ethnicity. To promote people’s acceptance of the park, this study suggests that future PA management should focus on balancing benefits and costs of the most resource-dependent communities and conservation initiatives should be designed to be supplementary to local economic needs.
Key words: Conservation, Indawgyi, Myanmar, perceptions, protected area, resource dependency.