To achieve an effective conservation goal, understanding the socioeconomic background of the local people, as well as their opinions and attitudes, are of great significance (Ambastha et al. 2007; Dimitrakopoulos et al. 2010; Badola et al. 2012). This research provides insight into the people's dependency and their perceptions of the Ansupa Lake conservation issue. The results also reveal the factors behind their perception, which can prove effective in conservation planning and decision-making. Wetlands have always proven their significance in supporting the livelihoods of human beings living adjacent to them (Silvius et al. 2000; Lamsal et al. 2015). In our study, ninety-six percent of the respondents were dependent on the lake for their livelihood, which indicates the significance of such wetland for supporting local’s livelihoods.
Statement 1: Conditions Of The Lake Have Deteriorated During Recent Years And Need Conservation
Earlier people were acquainted with relying on most of their needs from the lake. They used water for drinking purposes in addition to using it for cultivation and fishing. As a result, people were more concerned about lake conservation. However, after installing tube wells and bore wells, dependency on drinking water decreased, and attention towards lake conservation was also reduced. In our study, people who depend on fishing have shown a higher level of care for lake conservation than those who use the water for irrigation. We hypothesized that those who are more closely associated with lake resources and who directly benefit from them might be more concerned than those who are indirectly dependent on them. Similar findings of our result were also observed by (Desta 2021) from Ethiopia, (Das et al. 2015) from West Bengal, India, and (Park et al. 2020) from Baekdudaegan, South-East Asia, where people associated more with wetlands showed more concern for the conservation and protection of the wetland.
Statement 2: It is the responsibility of the local people to conserve and protect the lake
Respondents are more neutral in this circumstance than confiding to a certain judgement, i.e., agree or disagree. People from the community have also stated that as various government departments and authorities receive funds, they should accept responsibility to conserve the lake. According to our study, higher-income people were more likely to disagree than those with lower incomes. It may justify it because persons with higher incomes may have alternate sources of income and are less reliant on the lake for their livelihood. People with low average income, on the other hand, could be entirely dependent on the lake for their livelihoods, leading them to assume that lake conservation should be their responsibility. The significant relationship between dependency and responsibility, or positive perception, was once again demonstrated by our results for these statements (De Boer and Baquete 1998; Gillingham and Lee 1999; Hamilton et al. 2000; Mehta and Heinen 2001; Abbot et al. 2001; Tomićević et al. 2010; Park et al. 2020).
Statement 3: It is more important to meet the public need rather than conservation of lake
Around 95% of those respondents said they were unconcerned with the statement. We assumed that their neutral response was due to both of these issues being important. When comparing farmers to fishermen, the regression result showed that the chances of getting a positive response to our statement were significantly higher in the case of farmers. We hypothesized that the education factor, as well as dependency, would influence such responses. Fishermen around the lake depend on it directly for their livelihood; however, farmers are less associated with the lake as they only use its water for irrigation. (Badola et al. 2012) and (Vodouhê et al. 2010) found a similar association between people's attitudes, perceptions, and the direct and indirect benefits they receive from the sources.
Statement 4: Participation Of Local People In Lake Conservation Will Improve The Lake Condition
Our respondents gave mixed responses, with 48.33% indicating they agreed, 17.5% disagreed, and 34.17% neutral. Respondents’ socioeconomic circumstances and educational backgrounds can justify this response pattern. Following the respondent's response to our statement number 5, it is apparent that people believe the authority is getting more benefits from the lake in terms of money allocated to its conservation. They also think that they may implement many potentials for the benefit of the community but that the authority is prohibiting them from participating in lake conservation initiatives. According to our study result, people who live in mud houses and farmers in their occupation have a favorable response to the statements. It can justify it on the same premise because farmers are not as directly involved with the lake as local fishermen are. Thus they may believe they are associated with the lake in its various conservation measures to develop the lake conditions. People living in mud cottages, on the other hand, are primarily underprivileged and seeking ways to participate in the lake conservation programme; as a result, they believe that local participation will benefit both the lake and them. Such studies have been carried out in several parts of the world, where community members have already begun to recreate the conservation development programme without the need for outside assistance (Rijal 2001; Shrastha 2011).
Statement 5: There Is Equitable Distribution Of Resources And Benefits Among All Social Groups
According to the findings, only those with higher educational degrees believe that the lake's resources are used equitably by the local population. Their impression of the lake may be toward its overall benefits and usage; however, individuals with less educational qualifications may perceive merely using the direct benefits shown to all. As a result, they may feel that the resource is only accessed by a small group of individuals and not by everyone. As many professionals have discovered, education is one of the key variables influencing people's perceptions on various issues (Ogra 2009; Harun et al. 2018; Hager et al. 2020).
Statement 6: You Are Willing To Participate In The Conservation Initiatives
Almost everyone agreed with our statement. People frequently enquired about the compensation for their involvement in response to this statement. They only agreed with us when they had some possibility of receiving some reward for their cooperation. Our findings are consistent with those of (Karanth and Nepal 2012), who concluded that conservation of natural resources is only achievable when the livelihood requirements of local people are fulfilled.
In the case of statement 7, “People’s living conditions will improve if the lake is retained,” practically everyone agreed with us. Community engagement of all stakeholders is required to match any conservation efforts to protect or conserve the ecosystem and improve their lifestyle and livelihood. It has been perceived that people who live near natural resources are concerned about their conservation (Dimitrakopoulos et al. 2010; Scholte et al. 2016). Similarly, because most of our respondents are dependent on the lake for their livelihoods, they believe that improving the lake will help them better their livelihoods. Again, statements 8 and 9 stipulate, "Overexploitation should be regulated" and "Lake encroachment and agricultural field expansion around the lake should be stopped.” Again, we got the majority of the respondents to agree, and a few disagreed with our statement. We conclude that because approximately all respondents were directly or indirectly dependent on the lake, they believe its resources should be conserved for future generations. As a result, individuals may assume the lake is being conserved for future generations.
In statement 10, “The blooming tourism business has a negative impact on lake conservation,” we found the majority of our responses to be negative, since residents in the Ansupa lake area might have benefitted in some way from the influx of tourism, which again created a relationship on the dependency/benefits and perception towards the conservation of natural resources.