Increasing community environmental awareness, participation in conservation, and livelihood enhancement through tourism

Zahed Ghaderi*, Elham Shahabi, David Fennell, Mana Khoshkam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In line with social exchange theory, this case study explores how a previously indifferent and unsympathetic local community participates in the conservation of Touran National Park through community-based tourism. An in-depth analysis of local community members, local authorities, and NGOs revealed that due to changes in society's socio-cultural structure, the community’s awareness of conservation has significantly increased and resulted in active participation in natural and cultural heritage. The findings provide an alternative to social exchange theory, suggesting that benefits should generally outweigh human social interaction and behaviour calculus costs. Furthermore, rural youth and women have become much more prominent despite many public participation dilemmas and rigid government structures. Finally, theoretical and practical implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-621
Number of pages17
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • community livelihood
  • Community participation
  • conservation of national park
  • Qaleh Bala
  • social exchange theory
  • tourism development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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