Conservation versus socio-economic sustainability: A case study of the Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka

Shanaka Kariyawasam, Clevo Wilson, Liyanage Ishara Madhubhashini Rathnayaka, Kokila Gayashi Sooriyagoda, Shunsuke Managi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


National parks have been used over the years as a model for preserving and conserving plants and animals. Governments also use parks as a tool for rural poverty elimination. Although national parks have been located in the living and working environments of local residents, the surrounding communities are typically not allowed to gain substantial benefits. This can lead to unsustainable practices including over extraction of park resources and illegal use of parks’ natural assets. In light of these issues this paper firstly examines the role of national parks in ensuring socio-economic sustainability. Secondly, it examines the level of local participation and inclusiveness through a case study of the Udawalawe National Park. A value chain-based methodology is employed to estimate the local economic share of the park value chain. Results indicate that factors affecting inclusiveness such as human capital, financial capital, social capital, gender, location, level of complementarity between tourism and local livelihoods, and absence of endogenous growth policies have limited both local participation and their share in a park's value chain. This indicates the need for revenue sharing and integrated tourism cluster development programmes to offset costs and risks of locals, and to improve local attitudes towards conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100517
JournalEnvironmental Development
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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