This study is located in the buffer zone of Pench Tiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh) in India. The authors evaluate the effects of two state-driven incentive-based participatory projects, the Joint Forest Management and Ecodevelopment, on selected social outcomes.

Specifically, the authors measure local conservation knowledge, biodiversity attitudes as well as trust in and satisfaction with the tiger reserve management authorities. The effects of participatory management on conservation knowledge were positive but negligible. This study has not found significant effects of the two participatory projects on local people’s biodiversity attitudes, trust and satisfaction with the tiger reserve management authorities.

Top-down and externally induced participation may explain the results, and the findings clearly indicate that the effectiveness of participatory conservation interventions is conditional on the level and nature of local participation. Top-down participatory projects may not be sufficient to generate local support of conservation and in some cases, they may even exacerbate local conflicts.