Basis for Community Based Natural Resource Management

Freshwater management in South Africa. Bhekepi Dlamini (40) says her life was very difficult when ... / ©: WWF / Chris MARAIS
Freshwater management in South Africa. Bhekepi Dlamini (40) says her life was very difficult when her husband died a few years ago. But since she started to cut common sedge (Cyperus latifolia) and work with the craft group Thubaleth'elihle (which means "Our good opportunity" in Zulu), she has started to generate her own income by making conference bags from the wetland plants. Plants are mostly harvested in winter and allowed to dry. Republic of South Africa.
© WWF / Chris MARAIS
The main underlying premise in involving rural communities in natural resource management is that direct benefit from the management of the natural resources will motivate communities to protect and use the resources in a sustainable manner, ultimately leading to the conservation of those resources.
Strengthened community based organisations (CBOs) supported by appropriate and effective legal and policy frameworks will contribute to sustainable management of natural resources.

The region’s biodiversity will also be conserved while producer communities' livelihoods will improve significantly. This is because CBNRM supports biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction strategies through CBO capacity building, natural resource management training and policy development and implementation.

CBNRM in Southern Africa is therefore an approach to conservation and development that recognises the rights of local people to manage and benefit from natural resources, ultimately to the conservation of those resources.

At government levels
...this involves devolving control and management responsibilities to local people through appropriate legislation and natural resources management policy.

At community levels necessitates building the technical, organisational and institutional capacity of CBOs to enable them to assume management responsibilities.

CBNRM benefits in Southern Africa

CBNRM revenues in Namibian consercancies / ©: WWF SARPO
Graph showing value of income to conservancies in Namibia from 1995 to 2007
Communities have benefited from CBNRM over the years. In 2007, US$5,4 million was earned from CBNRM activities in Namibia and US$2,9 million went to communities as their share of revenue. Malawi realised US$500,000 in 2006, and Zimbabwe earned US$2,3 million in 2006 with US$1,2 million going to communities.

The development of CBNRM has seen the number of community beneficiaries increasing over time. In Botswana there are over 35 community and development trusts active in CBNRM, 50 registered conservancies in Nambia, 69 community resources boards in Zambia, 56 rural districts in Zimbabwe, and at least 8 parks in Mozambique.
CAMPFIRE revenues (US$) / ©: WWF SARPO
Graph showing CAMPFIRE revenues in Zimbabwe from 1989 to 2006

Policy Environment and CBNRM

Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) enhances capacity for the implementation of regional agreements, macroeconomics policy instruments, and international conventions.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States have committed themselves to various national, regional and international agreements such as regional protocols: - Environmental Policies, Acts and Plans; Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs); as well as United Nations Conventions such as the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

These macro-economic frameworks, multi-lateral policy instruments and international conventions recognise that sustainable natural resource management is essential for poverty reduction and lasting improvement in rural livelihoods.

CBNRM is an effective tool for the implementation of these policies and agreements by providing a mechanism for decentralised implementation of poverty reduction strategy agendas through the established networks of CBOs and through the provision of a collective voice.

Within WWF, the global conservation organization, CBNRM contributes to the achievement of following WWF's global targets and milestones:

  • Forests - Forests for Life: contributing to improving the management of protected areas.
  • Freshwater - Ecosystems Living Water: contributing to sustainable water management.
  • Marine - Endangered seas: contributing to management effectiveness.
  • Species - Elephants: contributing to management effectiveness.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) / ©: SADC
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Anti-poaching signboard at Lochinvar National Park Kafue Flats, Zambia. / ©: WWF / Sandra MBANEFO OBIAGO
Anti-poaching signboard at Lochinvar National Park Kafue Flats, Zambia.

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