Local participation can be described as empowering people to mobilise their own capacities, be social actors rather than passive subjects, manage the resources, make decisions, and con-trol the activities that affect their lives. Projects may be classified on the basis of their approaches to and relationships with the in-tended beneficiaries as
- "beneficiary" approach that makes local peoples involvement as passive. The goals of this approach to development are tangible economic benefits, although those who are to receive them have only a limited role in generating them.
- a "participatory" approach that seek to involve people in the process of their own de-velopment, adopting. In these projects, development is perceived as a way to empower people and improve their ability to control their lives and use and manage resources.
There are five main areas in which local people can participate in projects:
4. Initiating action; and
Local participation in conservation projects implies the consistent involvement of local people in strategic project issues rather than their occasional or limited involvement in day-to-day activities.
Two principal approaches to organising and sustaining community participation in projects can be identified:
- Employing Agents of change are also referred to as field workers, extension workers, community organisers or animators. Their task is to foster grass-roots participation and build local institutions. They do not act as leaders and do not tell community what to do.
- Local Institution building can be defined as the creation of procedures for democratic decision making at the local level and the involvement of local people in these proce-dures to the extent that they come to regard them as the normal way of conducting community affairs. Local participation through institutions or organisations is more likely to be effective and sustained than individual participation. Local institutions can act as a focus for mobilisation among local people and as a link between local people and external organisations, whether governmental or non-governmental.
Conflicts of interest are inherent between rural people's ability to earn a living and the man-agement of nearby protected areas. Projects can, and should try, to mitigate such conflicts of interest by promoting alternative income sources and education programmes. But the conflicts cannot be expected to disappear.