This study investigates the relationship between nature conservation and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities from a huma n rights and legal anthropological perspective. To protect nature while respecting the rights and interests of the peopl e living in these areas is one of the main challenges of our times. The classic exclusionary model of nature conservation, based on the prototyp e of the American national park, has gone hand in hand with human rights violations. In recent years, a new model of conservation based on resp ect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities has gain ed currency. The study addresses two questions: (i) what does this parad igm shift mean in terms of international human rights law? And (ii) how, if at all, has this new paradigm been translated at the national level (of Peru) and the local level (of the Güeppí Reserved Zone, a specific p rotected area in Peru)? At the international level, the obligations arising under the United Nat ions, the European, the Inter-American, and the African human rights sys tems in relation to nature conservation are clarified and analysed. At t he national and local level, the classic legal method was combined with social science methods, principally semi-structured interviews and an et hnographic case-study. Hereinafter, some of the main conclusions are summarized. First, the rec ognition of and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local c ommunities do not depend on their (supposedly) conservationist behaviour or ethic, or the use of traditional methods. Second, similar to the i ncreased recognition of legal pluralism, there should be more room for conservation pluralism, thus engaging in nature conservation in plural (western and non-western) ways. Third, the relationship between the righ ts of indigenous peoples and the rights of local communities is complex and multi-layered. Indigenous peoples have specific rights which must be respected, but this should not lead to a neglect of the general human r ights of local non-indigenous communities. It may even be considered to extend some of the specific rights of indigenous peoples toward local no n-indigenous communities. Fourth, a two‐fold intensification was i dentified in the European Court of Human Rights assessment of whether a fair balance is achieved between the general interest of society in nat ure conservation and the requirements of protection of the fundamental r ights of the persons affected. The Court is not only attaching increasing importance to the public interest goal of nature conservation , but is also raising the standard for the state, which needs to ensure that the conservation‐related measure does not interfere in a disp roportionate manner with the enjoyment of the rights guaranteed by the E uropean Convention. This double intensification is proposed as the appropriate way to address the conservation‐people dilemma. As a final reflection, the study adopts and promotes a bottom-up perspec tive. As to methodology, some benefits of including social science metho ds in legal research are demonstrated. As to content, the interaction be tween the international, the national and the local level appears to be unidirectional and top-down. Two-way traffic in legal change should be e nhanced.