Allendorf, Teri D., Aung, Myint, and Songer, Melissa A. 2012. "Using residents' perceptions to improve park-people relationships in Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary, Myanmar." Journal of environmental management 99:36-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.01.004
The complex and context-specific relationships that local residents have with neighboring protected areas present many challenges for protected area (PA) management. While long-term, interdisciplinary approaches may be necessary to fully understand park-people relationships within a particular PA, the reality is that management decisions for the majority of PAs in the world are made by protected area staff with little or no external assistance. One potential entry point for management to understand park-people relationships and improve management is through understanding people's perceptions of PAs. This paper presents a study from Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary in central Myanmar designed to explore the impact of using residents' attitudes to directly inform management strategies. We conducted a survey to determine attitudes and determinants of attitudes toward CWS. In response to the survey, the warden made changes to the Sanctuary's management strategy to accommodate local needs and perceptions. Four years later, we repeated the survey to explore the effects of the management changes on people's perceptions and found that people were significantly more likely to like the sanctuary, less likely to mention problems, and more likely to mention benefits. People's negative perceptions of management conflicts and crop damage decreased and their positive perceptions of conservation and ecosystem service benefits and extraction benefits increased. This study demonstrates that residents' perceptions can be used by management as a starting point to improve park-people relationships through feasible and targeted interventions that are meaningful to local communities and their relationships with PAs.