Abstract Local peoples living in protected areas often have a different understanding about their natural space than do non-local groups that promote and declare such areas “protected.” By designing protected areas without local involvement, or understandings of local social differentiation and power, natural resources management schemes will likely be unsuccessful. Protected area Cerro guanacaure in southern Honduras has been subject to many development projects, most of which have failed, and the local inhabitants observe that degradation of natural resources continues. However, this case study shows that this does not mean locals view natural resources simply in an individualistic, utilitarian way. They also see their surroundings in an ecological way, and a sociocultural way. This assessment is based upon in-depth interviews with local leaders and 208 fixed format interviews of park inhabitants in Cerro Guanacaure.