Cost data are crucial in conservation planning to identify more efficient and equitable land use options. However, many studies focus on just one cost type and neglect others, particularly those borne locally. The authors develop, for a high priority conservation area, spatial models of two local costs that arise from protected areas: foregone agricultural opportunities and increased wildlife damage. They then map these across the study area and compare them to the direct costs of reserve management, finding that local costs exceed management costs. Whilst benefits of conservation accrue to the global community, significant costs are borne by those living closest. Where livelihoods depend upon opportunities forgone or diminished by conservation intervention, outcomes are limited. Activities can be displaced (leakage); rules can be broken (intervention does not work); or the intervention forces a shift in livelihood profiles (potentially to the detriment of local peoples’ welfare). These raise concerns for both conservation and development outcomes and timely consideration of local costs is vital in conservation planning tools and processes.