Protected Areas (Pas) of Nepal provide habitat for a range of species including tiger, rhino, snow leopard, red panda, musk deer, and many others. A gradual shift in the management strategy from strict protection and species focus into ecosystem and landscape approach has mainstreamed economic development. As of 2014, there are 10 national parks, three wildlife reserves, one hunting reserve, six conservation areas, and 12 twelve buffer zones which are a part of the PA system in Nepal. In all these PAs, tourism has become an important driver of sustainable economic development and decent job creation for people living in and around the parks while conserving ecosystems and biodiversity. Tourism in PAs has provided new economic opportunities for the rural communities. Mainstreaming tourism without damaging core values of biodiversity conservation is one of the successful approaches in the PA management of Nepal, which has enabled the more effective use of economic incentives to induce positive changes.
Managing about one quarter of country's land as PAs is indeed a great challenge where a large number of people reside and/or depend on these resources. The dependency on forest products, human-wildlife conflicts, illegal trade and poaching, development and infrastructure needs, habitat loss and fragmentation are threatening PAs management. In addition, limited park infrastructure, ownership and benefits to local community are also being recognised as major challenges. These situations have lead to a gradual change in the PAs management policies in order to mainstream sustainable development. This policy shift has helped in creating much-needed local benefits, employment and micro-enterprise development opportunities to the local communities.
Sharing benefits with the local community has multiple positive effects contributing to sustainable development. The incomes generated from these PA network are being used by the local communities particularly focusing on alternative energy, health, capacity development, infrastructure development and education. PAs, which generate more revenue, have had a better impact providing local benefits through integrated conservation and development approach. It has also reduced park people conflicts. The management of PAs where local communities’ dependence on park resources is very high must include co-operation and support of local communities.