Department of Environmental Studies
This thesis focuses on the debate concerning the development of community-based ecotourism (CBET) in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR), located in the Garwhal Himalaya, India. Community based ecotourism has been increasingly lauded as a means of simultaneously promoting both environmental conservation and the equitable economic development of the host communities. However, these initiatives are often criticized for their perceived exclusion of local participation. In 2006, following nearly twenty years of restricted tourism, local community members in the NDBR partnered with an external NGO to create a CBET initiative known as the Mountain Shepherds. Using the development of the mountain Shepherds as a case study, this project explores larger issues of local participation, economic development, and environmental conservation. Q=-methodology is employed to identify four distinct viewpoints concerning CBET development. Additionally, the analysis reveals four thematic areas around which the various perspectives revolve: representation, success, participation and capacity building. These data are valuable insofar as they can contribute to policy recommendations concerning how CBET development might most effectively proceed both within the reserve and in the larger arena of tourism development.