Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture,
Cornell University, USA
IS COMMUNITY-BASED NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT?
IS CBNRM RECEIVING ATTENTION?
for Natural Resource Management
AT LOCAL LEVELS
PERSPECTIVE ON NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
FROM THE COMMUNITIES
that Transcend Communities
Policy and Institutional Environments
in community-based natural resource management (CBNRM)
derives from a combination of frustration and optimism.
The frustration comes from the shortcomings of efforts
to preserve vulnerable natural resources that ignored
the needs and interests of local communities and that
failed to enlist their cooperation and capabilities
in managing those resources. At the same time, there
are a number of encouraging experiences with community
involvement in natural resource management. Some of
these have been documented for this workshop.
400 abstracts were submitted for this workshop reporting
cases where local interests and talents have been
engaged in a variety of initiatives to preserve the
natural resource base on which communities and nations
depend for future livelihood and life itself. This
workshop will assess the potentials and limitations
of such approaches, the conditions under which they
can be successful, and when and for what objectives
of conservation they are likely to be inadequate.
introductory paper highlights issues and offers some
analytical concepts and frameworks that can assist
in systematic evaluation of CBNRM as a strategy for
serving both conservation and development objectives.
It also presents some CBNRM experience from countries
in Africa, Asia and Latin America with which I have
some personal acquaintance, mostly through the Cornell
International Institute for Food, Agriculture and
Development (CIIFAD), my personal 'data base'.
WHAT IS COMMUNITY-BASED NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT?
term 'community-based' distinguishes the emerging
approaches from an earlier concept of community
natural resource management, which refers to communities
having full and generally autonomous responsibility
for the protection and use of natural resources. This
approach has derived from or been modeled after indigenous
systems of natural resource management, where local
knowledge, norms and institutions have co-evolved
over long periods of time with the ecosystem in question.
This often makes for well-attuned management regimes
as shown by some of the case studies in Berkes (1989)
and Clay (1988), though it does not invariably make
for a commitment to the conservation of natural resources
are situations where community NRM is more feasible,
and more desirable: where human populations and ecosystems
are co-adapted and not under stress, and where communities
are not confronted with new conditions or new pressures,
e.g., from climate change, rapid population growth
(natural or due to in-migration), availability of
new technologies, weakening of local institutions,
new tastes and demands within communities, or changed
legal regulations and policy directions. This listing
does not suggest that community NRM is invalidated
by such factors but that it is less likely to tenable
where such factors are present.
should be realized that many changes in resource status
are not primarily the result of human action or intervention,
as seen on the fragile hillsides in Nepal (Blaikie
and Brookfield 1987: 37-49) and West African savanna
and forest regions (Leach and Mearns 1996). It needs
also to be appreciated that how resources are viewed
and used is conditioned by political and power relationships,
not just by abstract or inexorable trends in biophysical
or demographic terms.
advances in ecological theory suggest ... that
many more environments than was previously thought
are characterised by high variability in time
and space. This has important implications for
managing natural resources and environmental risk,
and suggests that understanding environmental
change involves looking beyond natural-resource
depletion or degradation in the aggregate.
local communities may be shown to be dynamic and
internally differentiated, and the environmental
priorities and natural-resource claims of social
actors positioned differently in power relations
may be highly contested. These factors point to
the importance of diverse institutions operating
at multiple scale levels from macro to micro,
which influence who has access to and control
over what resources, and arbitrate contested resource
claims. (Leach et al. 1997: 5-6)
circumstances that favor purely local and autonomous
resource management are becoming more restricted.
Local ecosystems are usually linked significantly
with larger ecosystems, so one can argue that conserving,
as compared to extractive, management requires larger
rather than local schemes. Moreover, if the conservation
of particular resources is justified not just as a
local good but as something that the whole world community
has a stake in, then that larger community should
be expected to contribute to the cost of maintaining
means that conserving management is likely to be less
supportable or even desirable in isolated areas, even
if responsibility for this could be discharged by
persons living in close proximity to the resources
rather than remotely from them. It is appropriate
that beneficiaries who reside far from the resource
nevertheless be involved in some way in covering the
cost of maintaining the benefit, which is difficult
to arrange with autonomous local management systems.
as a strategy reflects in social and policy terms
the parallel nestedness of organisms, species,
associations and ecosystems in the natural universe.
Biological systems, because they do not exist in isolation,
need to be maintained within conceptions that comprehend
the connectedness between micro and macro levels.
Larger systems are obviously made up of smaller ones
and disappear without them; yet at the same time,
smaller systems depend on larger ones for their survival.
So different levels need each other.
image coming from an understanding of nature, extrapolated
to systems of social organization, justifies a strong
concern for the micro. It is from such realities and
dynamics, and from their attendant interactions, that
ever more encompassing systems emerge which are reasonably
stable and productive. For natural resource management,
the community broadly conceived is where most of the
decisions and actions that directly affect natural
resources are made. At the same time it highlights
a need to remain cognizant of higher levels of social
organization and ecosystem analysis and to relate
these clearly to lower levels, a strategic vision
expressed by René Dubos' admonition to "think globally,
endorse decision-making at local levels is not to
argue that the decisions taken there are necessarily
or always the most crucial ones. Certain decisions
and actions taken at regional, national or international
levels are going to be more determinant. Accordingly,
one should not focus exclusively on local arenas for
management. The converse of Dubos' advice is also
true: think locally, act globally. What appear to
be local problems often cannot be solved at local
local decisions and actions collectively and cumulatively
shape the course of ecosystem conservation or degradation
in pervasive ways. It is mostly within the purview
of communities that forests are cleared, land is cultivated,
wild flora and fauna are collected, and water sources
are affected by resource management practices. Impetuses
for these practices may come from outside communities,
but communities are where "the rubber meets the road."
all community decisions and actions with regard to
natural resources are benign. They can range from
resource-degrading to resource-conserving, and sometimes
resource-enhancing. This makes it all the more important
that local understanding and support for conservation
objectives be gained and maintained, since government
abilities to enforce decisions favoring natural resource
protection are so often limited.
all resource-degrading behavior comes from communities.
Much stems from 'outsiders'. Focusing only on communities
can overlook important threats to the environment.
But such threats make enlisting local understanding
and support all the more important, as communities
can be vigorous defenders of natural resources that
they believe they have a stake in, though it is true
that they can be stymied or bought off, especially
if local structures of decision-making are weak or
community-based approach recognizes and reinforces
the stakeholder role of people living in, on and around
vulnerable natural resources, both for these people's
sake and for that of future generations, for people
living in the immediate area but also in the rest
of the country and the rest of the world.
local perceptions or interests do not favor resource
conservation and where a strong case can be made for
preserving particular ecosystems in terms of objectives
discussed below, there may be justification for other
agencies or organizations to become involved more
directly with their management, providing financial
and other resources as compensation or incentive to
support the preservation of natural resources. But
even then, the approach is more likely to succeed
if negotiated and linked, with rather than in opposition
to local residents.
does not parcel out natural resources in self-contained
spheres coterminous with existing community domains.
Forest, soil, water and biological resources need
to be understood and sustained within 'nested' ecosystems,
as already suggested, from local microenvironments
up to landscape and watershed levels, ultimately to
larger systems on regional, national and inter-national
scales. These seldom correspond to or respect political
and administrative boundaries.
faces two particular problems of aggregation. First,
communities are not necessarily clearly bounded social
or geographic units, nor they likely to be homogeneous
entities, with single or agreed interests. Part of
the process of CBNRM is to identify what socio-geographic
units can function and work out sufficient agreement
to undertake management and conservation of the natural
resources within their purview on a collective basis.
units for management may be groups below the community
level or localities above this level, aggregating
a number of communities or groups within a larger
landscape, as discussed below. CBNRM assumes that
processes of resource inventory and appraisal, consensus
building and conflict management can inform and empower
communities to engage in collective action to utilize
and sustain natural resource endowments. This will
lead to a system of management that is superior to
what could be achieved by purely outside decision-making
natural resources themselves are quite heterogeneous.
Community management of harvested resources
such as timber or fish is quite different from community
conservation of biodiversity. The former is management
of directly utilized resources which produce immediate
value to those extracting them from nature, while
the latter provides only indirect, delayed or cultural
value. Communities may be quite able and motivated
to undertake the former in ways that ensure the continued
availability of economically-valued resources, while
at the same time having little interest in the preservation
of . extraneous. biological resources (2). These two
objectives of natural resource management are not
necessarily or always in conflict; they can be or
can be made compatible. But the first kind of management
tends to be emphasized by persons interested in economic
development, while conservation biologists usually
have the latter kind in mind when they find fault
with CBNRM (e.g., Kramer et al. 1997).
very concept of natural resources, it should be noted,
contains a bias toward evaluating the components of
'nature' in economic terms, assessing their use value
more readily than assigning them any intrinsic value
(Herring 1998). The term 'natural resources' as used
here refers to soil, water, flora and fauna, commonly
aggregated in the category of renewable natural
resources. Use of the term natural resources should
not privilege utilization over preservation, however.
a policy environment where importance is attached
to 'sustainability,' everyone should understand that
continuing utilization depends on preservation. Exploiting
certain resources to the point where they collapse
or disappear is not 'wise use'. Sacrificing some
part of ecosystems, even a small part, to produce
profits for some persons (certainly not for all) puts
whole ecosystems at risk, as well as their multiple
benefits which accrue ultimately for everyone. Arguments
that conservation and preservation are not important
depend ultimately on discounting the future to zero.
The earth is not a project for which we calculate
and assess a finite life.
starts with communities as a focus and foundation
for assessing natural resource uses, potentials, problems,
trends and opportunities, and for taking action to
deal with adverse practices and dynamics (Little 1994).
This is done not in isolation but with cooperation
and support from other actors, both from other communities
(horizontal linkages) and from higher-level or external
entities (vertical linkages). These higher-level actors
can be: local or district governments, regional bodies,
government agencies, non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), universities, or any other institutions that
have an interest in resource conservation and management.
presumes that local residents can understand and will
support larger interests and principles of conservation,
factoring these into their economic, social and cultural
considerations about how natural resources should
best be treated. It should not, however, idealize
or romanticize local resource users, who for a variety
of reasons -- economic, social or cultural -- may
be more disposed toward resource-degrading behavior
(RDB) than resource-conserving behavior (RCB) (Uphoff
and Langholz 1998).
communities may preserve the resources within their
own jurisdiction by diminishing those of neighboring
communities, as in the case of the Madan Pokhara panchayat
in Nepal (Acharya 1984). Threats to natural resource
sustainability can come from any level, from micro
to macro, so decisions are not entrusted entirely
or exclusively to higher levels or to lower ones.
CBNRM is a system of natural resource management,
especially because there may be need for higher level
support for enforcement of local management efforts
essential feature of CBNRM is starting with
communities, taking them into confidence and having
confidence in them. It engages their ideas, experience,
values and capabilities on behalf of resource conservation
objectives, at the same time it seeks ways for communities
to become better remunerated and better served. It
is prepared to accommodate local interests, needs
and norms that are compatible with long-term preservation
of ecosystems and their biological resources. There
is a burden of proof on outsiders for proceeding contrary
to these interests.
Reasons for CBNRM
are two main reasons why CBNRM is of current concern
to governments, NGOs and donor agencies like the World
Bank. One relates to the objectives of conservation
and the other to development. Different weights are
attached to each by different interests, but there
is usually agreement that both are important considerations.
first reason concerns the protection of biodiversity,
maintaining the integrity and viability of particular
ecosystems with their unique combinations of species
of flora and fauna. This can have development payoffs,
possibly more in the long run than the short term.
Where it is linked with economic activities such as
ecotourism there are more short-run incentives and
benefits attached to the conservation of biological
resources, especially endangered or threatened species.
second reason concerns the maintenance of ecosystems
such as watersheds for their multiple service functions
of benefit to communities, regions, nations, and the
world. These include: soil conservation and fertility,
sustained water accumulation and flow, favorable microclimates,
forest growth for both timber and non-timber products,
pollination which is critical for agricultural production,
maintenance of grasses and other forage, fish and
other aquatic species production, and purification
of soil, air and water resources. These have definite
economic value though not always commensurate with
the costs to those persons and communities whose cooperation
is needed to preserve those resources.
ecosystems yielding timber, fish, crops, livestock
and other products on an ongoing basis falter, and
possibly collapse, there are adverse consequences
for humans, not just for the flora and fauna extinguished.
CBNRM is generally more attractive to communities
for the second reason than the first, but the two
are commonly connected, as noted above. This connection
can be explained to and accepted by communities, as
seen from examples cited below.
can be a third reason, preservation of global cultural
diversity where the identity and values of certain
communities are linked to living in and extracting
resources from particular ecosystems. Quite often,
fragile ecosystems are associated with vulnerable
cultures, when groups defined ethnically or linguistically
have been marginalized by the dominant culture and
rely on certain forest, savanna, desert, mountain,
coastal or tundra environments (Chenier 1998; Clay
1988). Such groups need to maintain their own identity
and homogeneity if larger societal, indeed global,
heterogeneity in terms of languages, belief systems,
aesthetics, and social organization is to be preserved.
If the ecosystems on which such ways of life depend
are lost, so are the associated cultural systems.
here will focus on situations where the first two
reasons predominate, because they are more common,
not because they are necessarily more valid. Where
cultural preservation is the objective, community
NRM is more likely to be a viable alternative because
the capabilities and incentives for communities to
preserve ecosystems and their attendant resources
are greater under such conditions. Presently, the
most frequent conflicts regarding NRM come from the
first two kinds of situations. Most of the conclusions
regarding CBNRM undertaken for biodiversity or ecosystem
preservation purposes will apply to similar efforts
made for other reasons.
it should be kept in mind, will have their own reasons
for favoring, or opposing, CBNRM such as short-term
or long-term effects on livelihoods, and reinforcement
of community identity and sustainability. To the extent
that these are compatible with external rationale,
CBNRM initiatives are more likely to be successful.
Part of the process of establishing community-based
management should include discussion and comparison
of objectives. External and internal aims need to
be harmonized, with outside actors contributing to
the achievement of local aspirations if community
actors are expected to help fulfill external objectives.
WHY IS CBNRM RECEIVING ATTENTION?
years ago, CBNRM was considered likely to be ineffective
or, worse, destructive of environmental resources.
The arguments that Hardin (1968) made against sustainable
use of resources which were held and managed collectively
as common property were regarded as conclusive. It
was thought to be 'rational' for individuals to overutilize
any common resources and ultimately destroy them by
pursuing their self-interest in ways deemed normal,
or at least predictable behavior. The short-term benefits
to individuals from exploiting a resource held in
common would be greater than the short-term costs
to those same individuals. So this would promote overuse
of resources even though the sum of those costs subsequently
would exceed total benefits. Excessive use would sabotage
the renewability of resources, whether rangelands,
forests, fishing banks, or underground water supplies,
and lead to its cessation.
natural resources are 'common' in many ways, not just
when they have the status of common property, so that
no individual owns them privately and can dispose
of them at will. They are, first of all, a common
heritage, not created by individuals, and at least
in principle they belong to future generations even
more than to ours. There is a Native American saying
that we do not inherit the land from our ancestors;
rather we hold the land in trust for those who come
after us. Second, natural resources produce benefits --
and can create costs -- beyond the power of individuals
to appropriate them or avoid them.
produce timber and other products that can be privately
extracted but they also produce widely diffused
benefits in terms of climate and atmospheric conditions
that are shared by all. Conversely, the reduction
of forests alters the composition of the atmosphere
in ways that adversely affect weather and temperature
patterns in the long run.
cycle of rainfall -- precipitation,
runoff flow, percolation, distribution, use and
evaporation, leading to subsequent rainfall and
use which maintain life on earth -- is beyond
the control of any person, though it is vulnerable
to cumulative adverse activities by people.
pool of genes for flora and fauna is a biological
treasure at least potentially available for everyone,
and when it is reduced, through extinctions, everyone
is poorer as a result.
it is true that land, and the soil
thereon, can be privately owned and exploited, even
this eminently ownable resource evades human control
when topsoil lost through water or wind erosion
aggravated by misuse gets deposited elsewhere according
to the influence of gravity and weather patterns
which are oblivious to titles and deeds.
analysis which Hardin proposed suggested that protection
and preservation of natural resources such as rangelands,
forests, fishing stocks and groundwater required either
their privatization, so that individuals would
see and bear the costs of their extraction, or their
management by state institutions , able to
bring instruments of coercion to bear on individuals
not accepting restrictions on use that sought to ensure
that 'carrying capacities' or sustainable offtake
rates were not exceeded. Rather than entrust responsibility
for resource management to communities, Hardin advocated
regimes of private property, state control, or possibly
a combination of the two.
assessment, however, interpreted 'common property'
regimes as 'open access', when in fact, many if not
all are governed by established norms and precedents,
often with roles and rules that regulate access to
and use of resources (Gibbs and Bromley 1989). Not
all of these local mechanisms are effective in deterring
abuses of soil, forest, water and biological resources,
but then, neither are all market or state institutions
effective. Strong arguments have been made against
'the tragedy of the commons' thesis on both logical
and empirical grounds (e.g., Jodha 1995; Kimber 1981;
Ostrom 1986, 1990). There is now also an emerging
literature on 'the tragedy of the anti-commons', showing
how market mechanisms expected to regulate the use
of resources can contribute to their degradation (Feeney
et al. 1990; Heller 1998).
is increasingly argued that community institutions,
formal or informal, can achieve as good or better
results than with state or private management (Baland
and Platteau 1996; Berkes 1995; Ghai 1994; Ghai and
Vivian 1992). However, successful local management
systems are usually not operating in isolation from
other institutions and organizations, governmental
or non-governmental. The record of community involvement
in NRM is not uniformly good. Experience with CBNRM
needs to be looked at analytically and critically.
This opening presentation seeks to provide concepts
and a framework for such an effort at this workshop.
years ago, the institutional alternatives were seen
as basically two: either state sector institutions,
operating with the authority, expertise and other
resources of the state to shape and implement decisions
about resource use, or private sector institutions
pursuing individual interests and benefits with economic
resources being of greatest concern. The past three
decades have witnessed the emergence of a third sector
standing in between the private and public sectors,
as discussed in this section. CBNRM operates mostly
in this 'middle sector', though it works best when
there are complementary, supportive public and private
sector activities (3). Understanding sectoral differences
and strategies helps to situate CBNRM within the institutional
organizations and institutions have been around for
a long time, but they have been fragmented and for
the most part have remained small. The middle sector
was previously thought of as marginal, ineffective,
even atavistic. Preoccupation with 'modernization'
made it appear old-fashioned. However, various evaluations
over the past 10-15 years have showed this sector
to have many advantages (e.g., Esman and Uphoff 1984;
Hirschman 1984; Uphoff 1986).
are some good reasons for not regarding NGOs as constituting
or as belonging to this third sector. Rather, they
are a part, albeit a very important and quite distinctive
part, of the private sector (Uphoff 1996a). NGOs are
sometimes called 'private voluntary organizations'
(PVOs), though they are often not strictly private,
and neither do they rely purely on voluntary efforts.
NGOs operating on a not-for-profit basis are
distinguished from for-profit businesses or
enterprises that have been the major portion of the
private sector. This means that the private sector
has two major subdivisions, one charitable and the
other commercial, to characterize them in simple descriptive
terms. Neither has members to whom they are
within the public sector, a distinction should be
made between agencies and actors of the central government,
who are accountable to decision-makers at the national
level who may or may not be democratically elected
and controlled, and local government bodies
and actors, who are accountable at least in principle
more directly to local constituents. Agents of the
central government acting at local levels represent
local administration rather than local government.
involves institutions and organizations at local levels
which can be part of any of these three sectors, but
particularly of the middle sector, such as user groups,
community management committees, local councils, or
producer cooperatives. If these have the sanction
and authority of the state behind them, they are part
of or at least attached to the public sector. But
otherwise they operate with social more than legal
authority, invoking community sanctions such as fines,
penalties or ostracism. Local government management
of natural resources is one form of CBNRM, and not
its only form.
are an increasing number of instances of private sector
CBNRM, both for-profit and not-for-profit. Examples
of the first category are the private wildlife reserves
being operate in parts of Africa and Central America
(Alderman 1994: Langholz 1996); an example of the
second is the Loma Quita Espuela Foundation operating
the Loma Quita Espuela Scientific Reserve in the Dominican
Republic (Gutierrez 1996).
user groups are increasingly common for watershed
management in countries like India and Sri Lanka (Krishna
1997; Wijayaratna 1994, 1997), while cooperatives
represent a promising institutional mechanism for
CBNRM as suggested by forest management experience
in Peru and in Mexico (Alatorre and Boege 1998; Hartshom
analytical distinctions can make these considerations
and evaluations clearer as they differentiate among
the kinds of local institutions or organizations involved
in NRM (4). A continuum laying out this continuum
of institutions/organizations is presented in Figure
1. The major distinction among the three sectors is
the differing relationships that persons have to them
Options for Natural Resource Management
resource management undertaken by local administration,
i.e., by units of the central government, would not
be considered community-based, though to the extent
that such units are interactive with and responsive
to local people, incorporating their knowledge and
needs into management plans and practices, this approach
is closer to CBNRM than conventional top-down management
by government. On the other hand, local government
bodies that manage forest, coastal or other such resources
are engaged in a form of CBNRM, possibly supplemented
by user groups, management committees, or cooperatives
from the middle sector.
is possible that private, for-profit enterprises can
undertake to manage natural resources with conservation
as an objective rather than simply short-term profitability,
either because they can get income from activities
like ecotourism or in anticipation that the resource
will become more valuable in the future, whether for
exploitation or for further preservation. Local foundations
can undertake to protect endangered natural resources,
utilizing laws that give special status or incentives
to non-profit operations. The Nature Conservancy is
an example of a NGO service organization that plays
such a role. Some traditional institutions should
also be considered under this category, such as the
local elders or trustees who have responsibility to
protect 'sacred groves' or 'sacred forests' on behalf
of communities in parts of Asia and Africa (Chandrakanth
and Romm 1991; Lebbie and Freudenberger 1996).
1: Alternative Kinds of Local Institutions
Natural Resource Management
Relate to These Institutions / Organizations
taxpayers, and voters
constitu-ents, and voters
or beneficiaries, contributors, or employees
investors, or employees
park, forest, watershed or coastal area could be managed
by an agency of the central government, such as the
Park Service, Forest Service, Ministry of Agriculture,
or Department of Interior; by a local government body;
by membership organizations such as user groups or
community associations; by a cooperative; by a foundation
or charitable organization, possibly a church or mosque
association; by a private business; or by some combination
of these. While management by a central government
agency will not qualify as CBNRM, any of the other
organizations or institutions, either respectively
or in combination, can undertake CBNRM as this is
not the province or prerogative of only one kind of
institution or sector.
Strengths and Weaknesses
of these kinds offers certain advantages, and unfortunately
each has certain limitations. Local government
can exercise or invoke the authority of the state
to enforce decisions; it can have personnel who are
specialized and trained for such responsibilities.
The power to levy taxes as well as prohibit certain
behavior strengthens its hand for protecting natural
resources. On the other hand, compared to agencies
of the central government, local government bodies
are often weak, by design or by default, with limited
revenues, staff, expertise and even legal authority.
Without such resources, its efforts to manage natural
resources may invite abuse because there is the appearance
of control but not the reality. Also, local government
can be dominated by local (or outside) interests that
are more concerned with extraction than conservation.
organizations, whether membership organizations
or their special category of cooperatives, created
through a pooling of resources, have greater flexibility
than do government organizations. They represent and
can act on local interests quite directly. They have
most access to the knowledge about natural resources
that local residents have. With appropriate roles
and incentives, such as fashioned in the CAMPFIRE
program in Zimbabwe (Metcalfe 1997), community members
can undertake very detailed management literally at
the grassroots. But voluntarism, like flexibility,
has a down side as well as an up side. Enthusiasm
can wane; conflicts can arise that deadlock local
action. The resources that are needed for effective
management can fluctuate. Persons with special rather
than general interests can subvert or take over the
organization. So there may be less predictability
and continuity of management as well as less certainty
that it will preserve resources in as good or better
condition than before.
organizations or NGOs can operate quite flexibly,
and often exhibit a high degree of commitment to conservation.
They are able to provide or access more expertise
than other institutions and can often access financial
resources that governments and communities cannot.
But they too can have internal conflicts that are
debilitating, and their financial resource base is
seldom assured or steady, so they can default on commitments
for a variety of reasons. The government may appreciate
that it is spared the expense of services that these
organizations undertake to provide, but it can also
be jealous and even obstructive of them as competitors.
There are sometimes also complaints that these organizations
operate in paternalistic or arbitrary ways, not accommodating
local needs and interests. Since service organizations
can withdraw at their own discretion, so there is
no assurance of long-term management. So this option
has more limitations than often acknowledged.
enterprises if they operate within limits of sustainable
use, so as to preserve natural resources, have the
advantage of not costing governments or communities
anything, at least not directly if they operate successfully.
They may be quite innovative and efficient in their
operations. Private reserves are gaining ground in
South Africa and Costa Rica, for example (Langholz
1996). But their decisions remain profit-driven, and
there are no in-built incentives for taking intra-
or inter-generational welfare into account. Both the
environment and the poor can lose out to considerations
of increasing income and wealth in the present for
a narrow set of beneficiaries.
are no perfect institutional solutions for establishing
and maintaining CBNRM. As Mao Zedong told us, each
solution creates (contains) its own problems. Much
depends on how institutions are structured,
to ensure technical and organizational competence
and to have incentives that favor environmental conservation
while giving sufficient and appropriate incentives
for the various stakeholders and actors involved.
Public, private and middle-sector institutions have
complementary strengths and offsetting weaknesses,
so sharing of responsibility among them provides more
overall capacity for managing natural resources most
example, local governments can bring some authority
to the enforcement of decisions. User groups can monitor
and report on changes in resource status. NGOs often
have expertise that they can contribute in a responsive
manner, and they can make independent critiques of
any evident failings. Businesses often undertake certain
services more efficiently than other actors.
with such arrangements, there can, and probably should,
be some kind of supporting network that cooperates
with and assists the local institutions involved.
These higher-level institutions can come from any
of the three sectors, from the public sector (an agency
of the central government such as the Park Service
or Forest Service); from the private sector (either
a foundation or conservation NGO, or private enterprises);
or from the middle sector. Carroll (1992) gives some
examples of the latter from Latin America.
institutions and the scientific community at large
could be regarded as a fourth sector. Much of the
decision-making on NRM is influenced by researchers,
either academic or based in other kinds of institutions,
and knowledge generation is proving to be an important
element in improving or mediating decisions concerning
contentious NRM and public policy issues (5). The
importance of more and better knowledge for improving
natural resource management is increasingly evident.
This is true not so much in terms of estimating optimum
rates of extraction or delimiting vulnerable ecosystems,
as in terms of knowing more about the interests, needs
and capabilities of stakeholders who are interacting
in natural resource management situations.
is not unique to any one sector, and knowledge generation
can be undertaken by public, private or middle sector
institutions. What kind of institution supports
the generation of knowledge can affect its quality,
credibility and acceptability. CBNRM benefits from
a good supply and flow of reliable information that
can help parties understand the present and alternative
futures. Communities themselves, of course, are an
important source of knowledge. All parties can work
together with more confidence if they can agree on
resource statuses and trends, and for this, universities
and other knowledge-generating institutions from the
public, private or NGO sectors can be constructive
partners with communities in CBNRM.
WORKING AT LOCAL LEVELS
thinking about CBNRM we need to put 'community' in
analytical context because community-based activities
are not just undertaken by, or occur only within,
communities. Generally speaking, decision-making and
action can take place at any or all of ten different
levels that range from the international level
to the individual level:
of these levels are appropriately considered to be
'local' and thus loci for CBNRM.
community is a residential unit which may be
small or large, ranging from half a dozen up to several
hundred or even several thousand households. Communities
may be fairly homogeneous in terms of language, wealth,
lineage and other characteristics. More often, as
suggested above, they are quite heterogeneous, more
than suggested by the stereotyped idea of 'community'.
Communities may have tightly clustered, nucleated
settlement patterns, or be quite dispersed, possibly
linear along a road or a river, or scattered in small
hamlets that are connected just by lineage or allegiance
to community authorities. Persons join a community
by being born into it or by moving into it and being
accepted by other residents.
term 'village' is commonly used interchangeably with
'community'. Village refers to a physical area, while
community refers to the people residing within it.
This level can be thought of in terms of either territory
or population, with limits delineated on a map or
by a sociogram. Community can also be understood as
a cognitive or cultural construction, analogous to
what Anderson (1983) has identified at the national
level, where people are joined by a common identity
and by mutual perception of interest. In CBNRM, it
might be best to speak in terms of a . community of
interest. to avoid making . community. too geographic.
are usually smaller than whole communities, though
they can be larger in number of members and in geographic
spread than a community. Groups are based on some
shared characteristic of their members, if only a
common desire to belong to an association or committee.
Usually some trait such as age, gender, occupation
or religion distinguishes members from others who
are not members or are not eligible to belong to the
particular group. Neighborhoods or hamlets are usually
segments of larger communities or villages, so they
can be considered analytically as operating at the
group level, representing a smaller unit of social
organization than the community or village. Groups
can and often do cross community boundaries, so this
analytical category does not follow a strict hierarchical
groups or any subset of community members grouped
in an association, club, committee or union can engage
in CBNRM, but when they do so, they do not normally
have the same kind of territorial claim or legitimacy
that a community organization would have, because
they represent a 'part' rather than a 'whole'. However,
because they are usually smaller and more homogeneous
than communities, therefore they are also usually
more cohesive and able to decide and act, there are
advantages in group management of resources. This
is done with some reference to and usually approval
from the community, so that this is community-based
management rather than community NRM.
the community, one finds in almost all NRM situations
something that can be designated as a locality,
a set of communities that have some degree of common
identity and cooperation based upon proximity, but
also deriving from social interaction (e.g., inter-marriage)
and economic relationships (e.g., periodic market
days when villagers from a number of communities gather
at some central location to buy and sell goods), as
analyzed by Johnson (1970).
limitation of community NRM is that it truncates the
ecological units which are subject to local management
responsibility. Communities seldom have jurisdiction
over whole ecosystems, such as watersheds, hillsides,
valleys, plains, coasts, rivers or lakes. Multiple
communities have certain parts of these under their
purview. Effective natural resource management requires
some degree of coordination -- joint decision-making,
implementation, monitoring and enforcement -- among
communities sharing a larger biophysical unit containing
a complex of soil, forest, water and biotic resources.
CBNRM, communities with responsibilities for resources
in their respective areas are encouraged to collaborate
with neighboring communities that are co-dependent
on a larger landscape (or waterscape), be it a watershed,
hillside, valley, plain, coast, river or lake. What
incentives and institutional arrangements can best
support such cooperation, however, need to be identified
and evaluated in specific contexts. Some examples
of this should be seen in the case studies for this
when thinking about CBNRM, we need to consider not
only a variety of institutional or organizational
channels as discussed above, but a range of local
levels of decision-making -- group, community,
and locality. What happens at these levels depends
on and affects the decisions and actions of individuals
and of the households they belong to. The important
point is that CBNRM does not occur just in and by
communities; it can be undertaken also either by smaller
or larger social units of decision-making and activity.
But for both groups and localities, the community
remains a pivotal entity, even when decisions are
taken at lower or higher levels than the village.
The concept of community-based NRM thus bridges
three levels as well as three sectors.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
can likewise delineate three stages in the
evolution of NRM, especially that which is oriented
toward protection of biodiversity, with respect to
the attitude that is taken toward local residents.
This periodization, though simplified, points out
an important progression in thinking underlying the
conceptualization of CBNRM.
natural resources have been at risk from overuse or
abuse -- for example, when watershed conservation
or endangered species protection has been sought --
the first response has usually been governmental,
i.e., legal and coercive (Peluso 1992). Certain resource
uses were declared illegal, and people were excluded
from certain places so that they could not damage
the resources of concern. This prohibitive approach
regarded local residents in and around protected areas
as adversaries, to be kept out of designated
areas which are given 'protected' status.
has proved to have limited effectiveness, however,
unless the area is quite small and/or the government
has considerable administrative and regulatory capacity --
ample staff, good transportation facilities, sufficient
information to operate with, and a tradition of general
compliance with official decisions. These conditions
are seldom satisfied in developing countries, especially
in the more remote and inaccessible areas where protection
is often most needed or still relevant.
subsequent approach has been to design programs, policies
and especially projects that can 'integrate' conservation
and development. Rural communities were offered certain
incentives to desist from resource-degrading behaviors
in return for assistance to improve their agriculture
or provide schools and clinics. These were given as
a kind of quid pro quo for accepting restrictions
on access to natural resources. In this mode, local
residents are regarded as beneficiaries, to be bought
off by goods and services that will enhance incomes
is a growing literature critiquing integrated conservation
and development projects (ICDPs), showing that they
have not achieved the changes in behavior sought,
at least not on the scale or with the speed that is
desired (Barrett and Arcese 1995; Brandon and Wells
1992; Larson et al. 1997; McCoy and Razafindrainibe
1997; Wells et al. 1992; Wells et al. 1997). The ICDP
approach has come under heavy attack from conservation
biologists who do not think it can and will succeed
(Kramer et al. 1997).
can, however, object to this critique, suggesting
that ICDPs should not have been expected to achieve
rapid changes when dealing with long-standing and
complex social situations, ones that have not been
amenable to quick solution by administrative or coercive
means either. Moreover, ICDPs have too often been
poorly conceived as well as poorly implemented so
that they have not been given a fair or full test.
They have been more paternalistic than participatory
and have not capitalized on what has been learned
about development processes and behavioral change
(Buck and Uphoff 1997).
the extent that material incentives are perceived
as bribes, they create the problem that people then
need to be continuously rewarded with additional benefits
to ensure their cooperation with regimes of protection.
The implication of such an approach is that resource
conservation is something that serves the interests
of outsiders rather than the interests of communities.
This suggests to villagers that resource-conserving
behavior is not something beneficial to them, as Leach
(1998) pointed out in her critique of the UNCDFfs
concept of 'eco-swaps'.
dissatisfactions with the first and second approaches
as well as broader experience with introducing developmental
change, a third approach has been emerging that is
more genuinely participatory. In this, local residents
are viewed as partners in the complex enterprise
of resource conservation. They are regarded as persons
with whom outside agencies should work and from whom
they can learn.
newer approach, which has led to CBNRM, integrates
conservation and development goals by focusing on
the needs, interests, knowledge, values and capabilities
of local populations. Such factors are considered
as starting points in the design and evolution of
management regimes. Gaining people's confidence and
cooperation is seen as the key to success. As many
accommodations are made to local interests and needs,
as well as local modes of organization and management,
as are compatible with maintaining soil, water and
climate resources in need of conservation as well
as any flora and fauna in need of protection.
VOICES FROM COMMUNITIES
approach is looked upon with skepticism by persons
who think that the interests of local people, especially
those living in poverty, are unavoidably inimical
to the needs of environmental conservation. There
are instances where the poor have ravaged the environment
out of ignorance of the long-term effects of tree
felling, swidden burning, hunting, fishing, gathering,
plowing on hillsides. But more often these people
understand that there are adverse consequences, but
feel, however, that there are no real alternatives
when household and personal survival are at stake
(Rabesahala and Gautier 1995).
have talked with villagers in a variety of countries
and situations where there is a growing realization
at the grassroots that conservation practices are
not luxuries, serving the interests of city folk and
foreigners, but rather are essential to the survival
of their communities and of opportunities for the
next generation. Just as environmental consciousness
is taking root and spreading in most of the industrialized
countries, it is growing in non-industrialized ones.
Surely it could grow faster, and there is need for
stronger appreciation and conviction around the world
that we cannot continue to overtax the ecosystems
which are our and others. life support systems.
present, I sense a more rapid growth of concern about
environmental degradation in poor and marginal areas
of the Third World than in the U.S. and maybe Europe.
This is often evoked and spurred by alterations in
weather patterns and by the decline of water availability,
more than by concern with the conservation of biodiversity.
But villagers in my experience can see the connection
between what is happening to their soil and water
resources and what is happening to the rest of their
natural surroundings, such that biodiversity can also
be part of their concern, e.g., protecting plants
that have medicinal value. Let me recount in summary
form some conversations with villagers living in or
near areas having protected status:
Dominican Republic. In October 1994,
as part of a practicum on integrated watershed
analysis and management which CIIFAD held in the
Nizao watershed, a major source of water for irrigation,
urban supply and hydroelectricity generation,
we talked with members of the La Esperanza coffee
growers' cooperative. Its 800 members had been
resisting government efforts to regulate land
use and restrict tree cutting. It wanted to reduce
siltation in the dams that utilize the flow of
water coming from the watershed (6).
Presidential Commission seeking to maintain the
forest cover in the Nizao watershed had at first
decreed "no tree felling," but there was no way
this could be enforced. So a new approach was
taken, perhaps learning from the example of a
project in Haiti where farmers began planting
trees (in large numbers, 60 million over 10 years)
once they were given the right to cut these later
for household benefit (Murray 1997). At the time
we visited, the Commission had not worked out
a credible process for farmers to register the
trees they had planted so that they would be exempted
from the ban on felling.
told us that they had come to see that continuing
to cut down trees in the uplands was not good
for the health of the environment or for their
own long-term interests. The cooperative had enacted
its own rule regarding tree cutting by members:
For every five trees that a member plants
under the government program, only two
of these can be harvested, and these must be immediately
replanted in order to keep the number constant.
These Dominican farmers were thus prepared to
require of themselves more rigorous reforestation
practices than the government expected (Uphoff
Indonesia. In October 1995, I visited
the village of Sesaot on the island of Lombok.
LP3ES, an NGO participating in the action research
program of the Nusa Tenggara Upland Development
Consortium, was working with community members
in a situation where conflict had arisen. The
government had unilaterally upgraded the status
of an adjoining forest area, putting it off limits
from local use to protect its watershed functions
serving irrigation systems in the plains below
with the facilitation of LP3ES had organized a
committee, Partnership for Forest Protection.
This was patrolling the forest and was reporting
to authorities any illicit extraction of wood
that committee members observed. Over the course
of a year, through a process stimulated by LP3ES/CIIFAD
action research, the Partnership reached an agreement
with the Forest Department to develop a 12-hectare
pilot project for community forestry within the
protected forest. This area, planted with durian,
rambutan, jackfruit and other trees, was judged
the most successful reforestation site in the
relations with the Forest Department had become
more constructive by the time of my visit, and
a district forest officer joined our discussions
in a farmer's home. (Happily, good relations were
not disrupted by the fact that some of the persons
identified by the committee as illicitly taking
wood were forest guards of the Department.) As
long as their access to some of the forest area
was maintained, farmers were willing to modify
their practices and help preserve the forest and
its watershed functions. They acknowledged that
unrestricted access and unlimited use would in
the long run harm them too, not just others downstream
(described in Fisher 1998).
Sri Lanka. In March 1996, while reviewing
the Shared Control of Natural Resources (SCOR)
project, funded by USAID and implemented by the
International Irrigation Management Institute
(IIMI), I visited several villages in Nilwela
watershed, adjoining Singharaja national forest.
This project is supporting establishment of resource
user groups of many sorts (rice farmers, tea growers,
resin tappers, flower growers, etc.). These are
federated within microwatersheds to undertake
land use planning and management which can both
improve economic productivity and resource conservation
Dothalugala, villagers under the leadership of
the priest at the local Buddhist temple had formed
and registered an NGO to protect their environment,
Dothalugala Heritage. They observed that with
the deforestation of hillsides above the village,
either there was now less rainfall or runoff was
more rapid. Either way, as one villager told me,
after a week without rainfall, streams were drying
up as quickly as they used to do after a month
without rain. Villagers knew that if this deterioration
was not reversed, they would have to leave the
area because they could not survive without an
adequate water supply.
villagers' first response was to take vigilante
action, burning down at night the huts of any
persons encroaching on the forest area. But this
was extra-legal action likely to cause conflict.
With SCOR project facilitation, villagers worked
out an arrangement to take responsibility for
the forest area, which was owned by a government
tea estate, now being managed on contract by a
private firm. This firm was doing nothing to protect
the forest from incursion because it had no financial
interest in doing so. A SCOR project coordinating
committee got the estate to turn the area over
on long-term lease to the Forest Department, which
in turn 'deputized' village volunteers to patrol
the area and prevent any further tree cutting
or other abuses (Uphoff 1996b).
Madagascar. In September 1997, with
CIIFAD colleagues and Malagasy counterparts, I
visited the village of Riambondrona, about a 45-minute
walk from the only road going through Ranomafana
National Park. The village lay just outside the
designated 'peripheral zone' around the Park and
thus it had received no assistance or attention
under the USAID-funded ICDP that CIIFAD began
helping to implement in 1994. Our assignment was
to introduce agricultural alternatives to slash-and-burn
cultivation that presented a threat to the rich
biotic resources being protected within the Park.
residents of Riambondrona are from the Tanala
ethnic group, which has been wedded to a life
in and around forest areas from time immemorial.
Slash-and-burn agriculture is not only a means
of livelihood but an intrinsic part of their culture.
We have had considerable success introducing both
lowland and upland agricultural improvements within
the peripheral zone, thanks in large part to our
NGO partner, Tefy Saina, so that there are some
good alternatives to shifting cultivation.
residents of Riambondrona had heard about these
practices. They formed a farmers' association
with all 14 households in the village, and they
set aside two hectares of their scarce productive
land to experiment with and demonstrate alternatives
to slash-and-burn. They invited CIIFAD and Tefy
Saina to help them reduce their reliance on shifting
cultivation, recognizing that the reduction in
forest was affecting their water supply and the
long-term viability of their agricultural practices
and, for that matter, their community.
whole village participated in land use planning
and management to move away from an agriculture
they no longer regarded as sustainable. They mapped
the area around the village, the area between
them and the Park forest, and the area between
them and the road, listing changes they had observed
over the past 5-10 years and problems that are
now perceived, leading to solutions that they
could suggest themselves to reverse the resource
decline (Uphoff 1997; see Annex I for this map
Ghana. In March 1998, I visited the
village of Domi in the Greater Afram Plains, a
large semi-arid savanna area to the west of the
huge Lake Volta. Three years earlier this village
had been classified as "challenging," i.e., not
particularly cooperative, by the NGO with which
we are working in the area. World Vision/Ghana
has been installing village water supplies in
the Greater Afram Plains since 1990 under its
Ghana Rural Water Project, supported by the Hilton
Foundation and World Vision International. Now,
I was told, Domi is considered to be "promising,"
i.e., active and cooperative.
previous summer, a Ghanaian student doing graduate
work at Cornell worked with the chief and villagers
in Domi, as well as with two other communities
in the Greater Afram Plains, to initiate a process
of community-based land use planning and management.
They constructed a map of the village and its
resources and assessed resource uses, considering
the different information and evaluations that
men, women and children had about natural resources.
With this base of knowledge, they began taking
steps to ensure that there would not be further
loss of forest, soil and water resources.
headwaters of six streams were identified within
the Domi domain. The chief banned farming around
the sources of these streams and asked villagers
to join in reforestation efforts so that the water
supply could be improved. Villagers believe that
as forest cover has been reduced over the last
20 years, their water supplies have dwindled.
They expressed agreement that reforestation will
be better if they use a variety of trees, not
just a single species, and not just exotic species.
They said they know that some plant species are
being lost in the area. Some of these plants have
medicinal value, the villagers suggested, saying
they would be glad to cooperate with researchers
who can document and help evaluate these plants
and help protect them (Uphoff 1998).
is much more potential for CBNRM than even a few years
ago. Rural people have been exposed to some of the
same information about global warming and climate
change that reaches us in urban areas. They are necessarily
very attentive to shifts and trends in their environment,
particularly to changes in rainfall and weather patterns.
They also have knowledge of and some attachment to
the flora and fauna, because they depend upon these
for some or much of their livelihoods. They see value
in sustaining biological resources. Suggestions and
appeals concerning the environment that would have
gone unheeded in the past now have more resonance
in conversations with rural residents.
is very important how such conversations occur.
Villagers in my experience, when dealing with government
agents that are condescending and in their hearts
and minds contemptuous, will be either uncooperative
or only nominally acquiescent. Either way they continue
doing whatever they can get away with. Even well-meaning
approaches by outsiders as in Domi may be met at first
with indifference or hostility from villagers. There
is in most countries a long legacy of unsatisfactory
relationships between communities and outside agencies,
governmental or non-governmental.
problems of estrangement and distrust, often subtle
and unspoken from the community side, one cannot expect
new cooperative arrangements for resource conservation
and utilization to spring up quickly or without some
misunderstandings and difficulty. An attitude that
local people are enemies or abusers of the environment,
when often others richer and more educated are also
taking advantage of natural resources for personal
profit, sometimes even with government sanction or
acquiescence, does not help establish rapport and
a basis for cooperation.
is not simply devolution of responsibility to communities.
It is a result of discussions and negotiation, seeking
agreement on terms and conditions that are not unilaterally
determined and whose fulfillment is jointly reviewed
and assessed. How well can such arrangements serve
both conservation and development goals? How widely
is CBNRM feasible, and with what costs and what risks
of failure? These are questions to be answered empirically.
organizers of the workshop have identified four main
areas in which knowledge needs to be systematically
accumulated, evaluated and disseminated:
process of establishing an enabling policy and
institutional environment, at macro and micro
levels, fostering the emergence of community-based
institutions to manage natural resources locally;
participatory process of organizing effective community-based
groups, both at local levels and scaling up
to the regional level (the preceding analysis has
showed this to be process to be more complex than
stated in the workshop documents);
operational linkages, both horizontal and
vertical, among the public sector, the private sector,
and community-based groups in the management of
natural resources; and,
approaches to conflict management with regard
to the use of natural resources at all levels, local,
regional and national.
considering questions and criteria, it makes sense
to start with the second focus -- community-based
groups -- coming back to the first -- enabling
environment -- once it is clearer what kinds
of capabilities and networks should be enabled by
policies and institutions.
kinds of groups or organizations are involved,
or could become involved, in CBNRM? Once we appreciate
that there is not just one local level,
but rather there are three local levels,
we should ascertain what kind of community-based
groups already exist or could be usefully established:
groups if any engage in NRM? What are
the common characteristics or interests of
their members? How did such groups come into
existence? Are they 'traditional' or recently
formed? What kinds of sanctions do they have
for members and for others outside of the
group to enforce certain NRM decisions? What
legal status if any do they have?
community organizations take decisions
and act on NRM matters on behalf of all the
members of a village, what are the boundaries
of the organization and its jurisdiction?
Is it 'traditional' or recently formed? What
kinds of sanctions does it have for members
of the village, and what control if any can
it exercise over 'outsiders'? What legal
status do these have? Is there any link to
local government or local administration?
organizations may take decisions and act on
NRM matters over a larger area, subsuming
communities. What are the boundaries of such
organizations and their jurisdiction? Are
they 'traditional' or recently formed? What
kinds of sanctions do they have within the
locality, and what control over 'outsiders'?
what resource(s) do these groups or organizations
claim responsibility? Are these resources clearly
known and delimited, or are they not well known
and determined? Previous analysis suggests that
the effectiveness and sustainability of community-based
management is affected by whether or not the resource
is 'bounded', as well as whether the resource
users are a 'bounded' set. These distinctions
are laid out in Figure 2.
2. Resource Management Situations, According
to Nature of the Resource and the User-Managers
of Natural Resource
known and unpredictable
and coherent group
fishing by fisherman groups
group identity and structure
Uphoff (1986: 26)
area management presents a situation where the
resource is delimited, at least in principle, though
boundaries may indeed be changing or ambiguous,
as we have found with the Los Haitises National
Park in the Dominican Republic (Geisler et al. 1998).
Most users, on the other hand, have little in common
except for being located close to the protected
area as delineated by officials who make decisions
far from the resource itself, and some users, authorized
or unauthorized, are indeed 'outsiders' with no
relationship to persons living around the protected
area. There is no reason why such persons should
consider themselves as belonging to 'communities',
and there may be little solidarity within the communities
that do exist. The challenge of responding to government
decisions and intrusions may give impetus to a common
identity and forge some common interest that was
not evident before, but this may not be a positive
context in which to try to establish cooperative
community interests (7).
management confronts many different situations
with greater uncertainty along both axes in Figure
2. A greater variety of resources may be involved,
not just biological resources valued for biodiversity's
sake, and a resource like water varies from year to
year, being fairly unpredictable. The resource users
can be grouped, at least analytically, into upstream
and downstream areas. But many persons and diverse
organizations have access to a watershed, so the 'community
of users' is very difficult to delimit.
SCOR project in Sri Lanka, discussed above, has
been able to link a wide range of resource users,
but it is uncommon to have such a heterogeneous
set of interests engaging in CBNRM together. It
was learned that most households in the Nilwela
watershed had members engaged in several different
occupational activities (rice, tea, forest extraction).
This meant that persons involved in one kind of
user group could perceive a stake in supporting
other kinds of groups to have sustainable access
to certain resources to be maintained within the
kind of competition and conflict that was envisioned
as likely when the project was designed did not
materialize (8). This was partly because households
perceived more common interest than we anticipated,
due to the diverse interests within and hence
multiple connections among households that derived
from their heterogeneous survival strategies.
Cooperation also emerged because of the efforts
of institutional organizers, young persons recruited
and trained as catalysts to evoke normative reorientation
as well as to reconcile interests.
'institutional organizer' role was modeled after a
prior catalytic role that helped to improve irrigation
water management in Sri Lanka (Uphoff 1996). It was
possible to create more cooperative efforts to preserve
and manage natural resources within whole watersheds
that had been previously expected.
the help of project staff, sub-watershed residents
developed maps identifying current resources and evaluating
their uses within the hydrologically-defined area.
They then produced a map that projected a vision of
more beneficial uses corresponding to a differently
managed and sustainable natural resource base in the
future. This information was put into a geographic
information system (GIS) which then drew attractive
computerized maps for communities, along with revised
maps updated every six months to show the tree-planting,
terracing, changes in farming systems, creation of
no-use zones, and other actions that had been taken
(see Annex II).
important question for community-based groups is
how much support and strength can come from existing,
often 'traditional' organizations and culture.
A related question is how much positive support
for conservation efforts these organizations and
culture can derive from 'traditional' symbols and
values. In Ghana, for example, we find that land
tenure decisions emanate mostly from the local chief
and his superior, the paramount chief for the region.
But they are actually shaped by the much less visible
clan heads, whose voice in all matters pertaining
to land and other natural resources is effectively
binding, though their authority is seen as subordinate.
it is fairly easy to engage the attention and cooperation
of communities when their access to sufficient and
reliable water supply is at stake, groups and associations
can vary considerably in terms of whether they have
any similar, related, overlapping or competing interest
in biodiversity. For some groups, this connection
is easy to get accepted, and indeed there may be
a positive value already attached to preserving
the full range of flora and fauna existing in an
area. Alternatively, there may be no interest in
biodiversity and even a hostility toward certain
plant or animal species, such as animals that harm
crops. This makes CBNRM for protecting endangered
species and ecosystems problematic. Different strategies
will be appropriate if conservation of biodiversity
is an urgent need and a top priority where community
groups are disinterested or antagonistic toward
questions can and should be asked of the various cases,
but these get at core concerns for evaluating the
efficacy and sustainability of community-based groups
for conserving the environment.
Linkages that Transcend Communities
thematic focus highlights the need for CBNRM to look
beyond the community. Important questions include:
kinds of horizontal linkage exist, or can
be forged, between and among group / community /
locality organizations at the same level? This focuses
on attention on linkages among actors having similar
interests and capabilities. To what extent is CBNRM
seen as an isolated activity, or, much better, as
a method for mobilizing local leadership and efforts
to manage natural resources that is understood and
acceptable to similar organizations elsewhere? This
speaks to the question of spread effect.
the same lines, what kinds of vertical linkage
exist, or can be forged, between organizations at
the group, community and/or locality levels and
higher levels? This focuses on linkages with district,
regional, national and even international actors.
To what extent is CBNRM limited in its outreach
and upreach, not having influence beyond its local
domain and not having access to 'outside'
resources (authority and expertise as well as funds
and personnel). This speaks to the question of effectiveness.
Autonomous local institutions if isolated and unlinked
may be impotent rather than empowered.
what extent is work at group/community/locality
levels associated with broad coalitions of
actors that represent different sectors and levels,
bringing multiple perspectives and capabilities
to the enterprise of CBNRM? Here are some examples
of such networks which I know about from Asia, Africa
and Latin America:
Indonesia. The Nusa Tenggara Area
Community Development Consortium was launched
in 1990 with support from the Ford Foundation
office in Jakarta and from World Neighbors, an
international NGO. The Consortium brings together
NGO, university, government and community actors
in, or with an interest in, the southeastern part
of the Indonesian archipelago (see Fisher et al.
1998). The consortium addresses a wide range of
development and conservation problems in Eastern
Indonesia. Its working group on conservation of
natural resources deals with CBNRM issues at eight
sites in Lombok, Sumba and Timor through action
research, community organizing, coalition building,
and joint fact-finding, with a variety of innovative
strategies for convening stakeholders. Community-level
experiments to deal with conflicts over natural
resources are going on in Gunung Mutis Nature
Reserve and Wanggameti Conservation Area, among
Philippines. In 1993, a similar set
of universities, NGOs, government agencies and
international agricultural research centers formed
the Conservation Farming in the Tropical Uplands
(CFTU) consortium. Having started with upland
farming systems evaluation and improvement, joint
activities now include watershed protection (around
Cebu City) and protected area management (Rajasikatuna
National Park on Bohol).
Ghana. The Natural Resource Management
and Sustainable Agriculture Partnership (NARMSAP)
was launched in 1994 by World Vision International/Ghana
and CIIFAD, joined by faculty from two universities,
the Ministry of Food and Agriculture's Extension
Service, and representatives from communities
in the Greater Afram Plains (GAP). At a second
planning conference held a year later, there was
broader institutional and local government participation
and more than three dozen community representatives
this time. When it appeared that launching field
activities would be delayed pending mobilization
of donor support, the community and district representatives
urged the NGO, university and government partners
to start with whatever resources would be available,
pledging to make some contributions from their
own sources to this venture.
program of farmer-centered research and extension
to develop technologies and practices that could
conserve natural resources while improving people's
livelihoods was formulated with suggestions from
farmer workshops held in each district. There
are two protected areas within the GAP (Digyae
National Park and Kogyae Strict Nature Reserve),
so it is not surprising that NARMSAP has become
engaged in protected area management and conflict
resolution. This has brought the Department of
Wildlife in as a stakeholder, and members from
the media have become involved, not just in reporting
events but in helping to better understand and
Honduras. Starting in 1995, a diverse
group of NGO, university and other partners formed
the National Association for the Promotion of
Ecological Agriculture, known as ANAFAE for its
Spanish acronym. This loose association of 18
independent organizations sharing the common goal
of promoting sustainable agriculture has, like
NARMSAP in Ghana, become quite involved with protected
area management issues and with conflict resolution.
Besides the members, 13 other organizations or
programs participated in some way in ANAFAE activities
during 1996-97. Cerro Azul-Meambar National Park
and the Yeguare Valley watershed were initial
focuses of research. Conflict management efforts
are now centered in the Copan Valley to the west
are examples of the kinds of broad coalition building
that is going on in support of CBNRM around the world
(see partnership listings in Figure 3). They are grounded
in community-level activities and initiatives but
have a larger view and strategy, both in terms of
geographic area and in terms of diverse partnerships.
They purposefully support actions at local and national
levels and beyond. An excellent analysis of such processes
transcending national borders in Central America is
offered by Edelman (1998). The Association of Central
American Peasant Organizations for Cooperation and
Development (ASCODE) formed in 1991 has pledged to
"promote conservation of Central America's ecological
systems" (ibid., p. 233).
3. Consortium of Partners in Community-Based
Natural Resource Management
Tenggara Area Community Development Consortium
Farming in the Tropical Uplands (CFTU)
Natural Re-source and Sustain-able Agriculture
Associa-tion for the Promo-tion of Ecological
of Forestry; Ministry of Agriculture; Bureau
of Land Registration
of Environment and Natural Resources; Department
of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Bureau
of Food and Agriculture (Extension Service);
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
of provincial, district, and sub-district
VIII and IX offices of DENR and DA
Assemblies of five districts in the Greater
Wide Fund for Nature; Wildlife Conservation
Society; Birdlife International; World Neighbors;
Institute for Rural Reconstruction; World
Vision / International; Techno-Serve
Neighbors; Save the Children Association of
Honduras; International Cover Crop Clearing
Yayasan Tananua; Yayasan Sanusa
Foun-dation; Philippine Partnership for the
Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas
(PhilDDHRA); Aboitiz Development Studies Center,
Vision / Ghana
for the Defence and Development of the Flora
and Fauna of the Golf of Fonseca; National
Campesino Union; Caritas; and 11 other religious
and developmental NGOs
of Indonesia; University of Mataram; Agricutlural
Polytechnic, Kupang; Cornell (CIIFAD and CPECM);
East-West Center, University of Hawaii
State College (FARMI); University of the Philippines,
College of Agriculture; Los Babos (Agroforestry);
Bohol Agricultural College; Waikato University;
New Zealand; Cornell (CIIFAD)
of Ghana; University of Science and Technology;
School of Agriculture at Zamorano, Dept. of
Plant Protection; Cornell (CIIFAD)
from forest-margin communities throughout
in Leyte, Cebu and Bohol
(sub-district) and Unit (locality) Committees
and farmer groups at village level carrying
out experiments for sustainable agriculture
representatives where these partners are working
at grassroots in Honduras
Center for Agroforestry Research (ICRAF);
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
such strategies, each participating organization contributes
according to its comparative advantage and organizational
objectives. These coalitions represent conjunctions
of public, private and middle sector activity, though
the private sector involvement is mostly from non-profit
rather than the for-profit organizations. The role
and involvement of state institutions is often informal,
not committing or compromising public authority. Rather
state institutions harmonize their exercise of authority
with what 'civil society'. institutions and
community representatives think will be most beneficial.
In this way, CBNRM may be evolving interesting new
forms and exercises of public authority.
regard to operational linkages, one should consider
not just management but also planning which
sets directions and priorities in light of problems
and trends that are identified. Reference has been
made above to efforts to promote 'community-based
land use planning and management' in a number of
countries. Planning invariably requires the involvement
of multiple actors at various levels, as we are
seeing in our initiatives along these lines in Ghana,
Madagascar, Indonesia, Philippines and the Dominican
Republic. To what extent are local institutions
cooperating in creating a vision of more desirable
futures, compared with visions of what are likely
future conditions if present forces and trends persist?
This visioning process is important for creating
impetus and incentives for management, so we should
look specifically at this.
is emerging as a subject of much concern and importance
because conflicts of interest are ubiquitous in natural
resource management, but also because there is a growing
body of techniques and methods available for trying
to deal with disputes and differences of approach
to NRM. Conflict management is relevant to the subject
of planning, just discussed, as much as to management.
and concepts are still evolving in this area. For
example, conflict management is probably a more realistic
term than conflict resolution in many cases since
conflicts are often not really resolved, only mitigated.
The idea of 'multi-party collaborative problem-solving'
is gaining ground as a more comprehensive and inclusive
approach. It recognizes that the concept of 'conflict'
is not always accepted or freely understood in many
explicit focus on conflict runs the risk of reifying
it, perhaps putting people into opposing camps when
they could be considering themselves on the same side
and working together for outcomes that are agreeable
to all. The case studies prepared by Fisher et al.
(1998) from Indonesia and by Chenier (1998) from Honduras
give more detail on learning about conflict management
that I have been following through collaborating institutions.
The Ghana case discussed above has had some very instructive
experience with conflict resolution:
two months before my visit to Domi village, there
was impending conflict between villagers there
and in 17 other communities located around Kogyae
Strict Nature Reserve in the middle of the Greater
Afram Plains. The reserve had recently been expanded
by the government without any consultation with
villagers, who were suddenly told by armed guards
from the Wildlife Department that they would have
to stop cultivating in the area and would have
to move out. There were plans afoot, which we
only learned about subsequently, to kidnap those
guards and expel them from the area by force.
Vision and CIIFAD had gotten word of the likelihood
of violence and were able to organize a 'workshop'
bringing the various stakeholders together in
mid-January. This was a very successful event,
even though it got off to a shaky start with the
Wildlife Guards staying away ("fearing for their
lives"). A series of discussions, alternating
between group work and plenary sessions, and starting
with people in homogeneous groups (villagers,
chiefs, Wildlife guards, local government officials,
NGOs, media) and then moving to heterogeneous
groups (constituted at random), defused tensions
and created a sense of common interest countervailing
separate and conflicting interests.
techniques used included each group listing expectations
for the workshop, a 'time line' making visual
everybody's relationship to the protected area,
analysis of the ways that English terms like forest
and reserve had been translated into Twi, the
local language (creating some misunderstandings)
(10), an inventory of resources, uses and trends,
and visioning of the future likely with alternative
suggested scenarios (remove all guards, remove
all communities around the reserve, invest in
conservation agriculture, etc.)
the end of the workshop, there was agreement from
the community representatives that the guards
should remain in the area and that slash-and-burn
agriculture should be prohibited in and around
the reserve, and agreement from the government
side that the area into which the reserve had
been expanded should be a buffer zone rather than
strict reserve, with restricted but continuing
and non-degrading human uses allowed. The villagers
and their chiefs agreed to help protect the ecosystem
within the reserve (Deshler and Edmonds 1998).
The Domi residents with whom I spoke in March
expressed support for adopting practices of 'conservation
agriculture', for their own sake as well as for
that of the environment.
this area of conflict management is still fairly new,
the search is on for various and alternative methods
for resolving conflicts.
cases considered in this workshop should be assessed
for whatever innovations they offer from
which others involved in CBNRM could learn. We should
not be tied to or constrained by the concept of
'conflict' and rather should consider what it takes
to forge and maintain agreements on the uses and
practices which sustain soil, water, forest and
other biological resources.
and knowledge generated through research, and
especially participatory action research, cannot
eliminate preexisting conflicts of interest. But
they can modify and realign interests, so that issues
which threatened to evoke conflict, even violence,
get redefined in ways which permit all parties to
change behaviors and proceed in some kind of compatible
differences need to be considered, as we in
CIIFAD have seen from involvement with conflict
management efforts in a range of countries.
resolution efforts that we have facilitated in the
buffer zone around Los Haitises National Park in
the Dominican Republic have found useful a procedure
referred to as the 'moral contract'. After all parties
have reached some consensus, each person tells the
group what he or she intends to do to help carry
out what has been agreed on. When they meet again,
they begin with a discussion of what has been accomplished,
and what not. Where intentions could not be realized,
others help to figure out how obstacles could be
a procedure, however, seems more suited to a Latin
American cultural setting than to situations in
Madagascar and Indonesia, for example. In countries
with quite different cultural sensibilities, this
'moral contract' is unlikely to build commitment.
Individuals in Madagascar and Indonesia avoid making
public and individual commitments, preferring instead
to associate themselves with a group consensus that
is articulated by respected figures who speak for
the group rather than for themselves. There are
ways of working in both kinds of cultural settings,
but techniques surely need to be different.
Enabling Policy and Institutional Environments
kinds of policies and institutions are required to
make community-based groups, linkages, and conflict
management for CBNRM more effective? Which are most
important to start with? These are questions we will
seek answers to from the case studies, recognizing
that all situations are different. The structure of
each situation is different, with different sets of
actors and different configurations of interest. Timing
is an important consideration as the political climate
may be more receptive or more closed in one period
compared to another. The objectives also will differ,
with specific aspects of conservation and development
highlighted compared to others.
constant in these situations is the need for community
capacity to participate in CBNRM, assuming that
intention or motivation will be always a variable,
shaped by the way problems and opportunities are presented.
issue is whether existing organizations,
formal or informal, at local levels will be able
and willing to undertake CBNRM responsibilities.
If the answer is no, a priority policy and institutional
concern will be to support new -- or strengthen
old -- capacities.
question is whether CBNRM institutions should be
linked with -- or can operate separately from --
institutions of 'civil society'. Some would
argue that CBNRM must be connected to larger efforts
to ensure democratization and accountability, whereas
others see these issues as contentious and divisive,
so that CBNRM is best kept at arm's length from
what will invariably be seen as partisan and political
current disposition shaping most policy making these
days, emanating from 'the Washington consensus'
and accepted by or pressed upon governments in developing
countries, emphasizes market forces and incentives,
with their reliance on individual self-interest
and material motivations. It is not clear how compatible
this emphasis is with CBNRM, and indeed with natural
resource conservation, over the long run. If essentially
selfish motives are endorsed, even encouraged, the
disposition to forego any personal advantage that
could be gained from exploiting natural resources
The economic logic of heavily discounting future
benefits compared to costs devalues the needs and
interests of future generations. Quite possibly,
the policy signals which support CBNRM could be
undermined by other signals that stress the pursuit
of individual and material advantage, downplaying
social and non-material benefits. This is a complex
issue which may or may not be assessed from the
case studies. But it is one which everyone concerned
with natural resource conservation should consider.
are seeing interesting evolutions of the policy and
institutional environment regarding CBNRM in a number
of countries around the world:
Indonesia. Although the government
has generally been reluctant to grant much scope
for NGO activity, the Nusa Tenggara Area Community
Development Consortium working in the eastern
part of the country has found officials at provincial,
district and lower levels amenable to more experimentation
and improvisation that would have been expected
from central pronouncements. Reasons for this
include: (1) decentralization policies and more
local autonomy in decision-making and management;
(2) strong links established with local government,
mitigating line-agency bias toward national policies;
(3) improved relations among stakeholders through
a range of formal and informal activities; and
(4) research and analysis which has provided new
and accurate information on the condition of forest
ecosystems and forest-margin communities.
the national policy environment in Indonesia has
become more favorable in recent years, the activities
of the consortium have helped to gain more understanding
and supportive interpretations and implementation
of policy at middle to lower levels of government.
This has occurred even within a system regarded
as quite centralized, which suggests that getting
a more favorable policy and institutional environment
may not depend entirely on top-down initiatives.
Rather, the environment can, at least to some
extent, be improved by creative actions at middle
and local levels. Whether the Minister of Forestry
in the newly appointed government will be as well-disposed
toward community-based approaches as his predecessor
remains to be seen. Possibly the consortium partners
will have build up good enough working relations
with provincial, district and lower-level officials
that present cooperation can be mostly maintained.
Madagascar. The government has been
actively involved with NGOs and donor agencies
to formulate a national environmental action plan
(the first in Africa) and to revise it in light
of experience. The second phase of this plan (1997-2001)
has made CBNRM a principal pillar of policy. The
policy presented under the acronym GELOSE seeks
to create security for natural resources by giving
communities a large voice in their management,
through indigenous institutions and roles rather
than forcing communities to work through the unfamiliar
and somewhat remote structure of local government.
The Mahajanga declaration (November 1994) stated
that community institutions, and not just government
agencies, should be relied on to protect water,
forest and endangered biological resources. Soil
conservation and protected area management have
been made the responsibility of state-sponsored
NGOs (ANAE and ANGAP) that can work more flexibly
with other NGOs and with communities than can
existing bureaucratic agencies.
Dominican Republic. This country
now has about 30 percent of its area under protected
status. The creation of parks and reserves was
done rather unilaterally, however. From time to
time when human incursions on forest or marine
resources became too obvious and an issue, the
government would use force to evict transgressors.
Sometimes this was wealthy interests, as in the
case of logging or grazing large herds of cattle
in forest areas. But often the brunt of exclusion
fell on poor and marginal rural households. The
government is quite reluctant to be giving up
any authority to regulate access to and the use
of natural resources. But in recent years, resulting
at least in part from NGO and university activity,
government decision-makers have begun accepting
more consultative modes of NRM, including some
experiments with community participation.
overall institutional issue is whether the state will
seek to maintain its dominant position
within the institutional landscape with regard to
NRM, perhaps permitting community involvement on a
pragmatic basis but moving toward CBNRM in a limited
way, or will accept the private sector, both non-profit
and for-profit parts, and the middle sector as active
and full partners, if not yet equal partners.
CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION
criteria could be proposed for assessing the cases
presented for consideration in this workshop. The
following are suggested as starting points for consideration:
and protection of natural resources, especially
maintaining the renewability of those which are
renewable, particularly flora and fauna that are
endangered within vulnerable ecosystems;
in the income, security and well-being of communities
that are associated with and to some extent dependent
on those natural resources. This consideration can
include the preservation of the cultural identity
and integrity of populations which are distinct
from majority cultures;
of the management system, including ability
to evolve and adapt in response to changing conditions;
cost for operating the system, considering all
costs, those borne by communities as well as by
the government and other organizations;
equity in the distribution of benefits from
the system of management. This includes consideration
of benefits relative to costs distributed by gender;
and range of participation and empowerment
of local residents. If this conflicts with any of
the above objectives, there needs to be some redesign
of CBNRM, itself involving local residents to reach
agreement on goals and on means which can advance
these goals as a set.
should not be assumed that these goals are all naturally
compatible. There needs to be considerable deliberation
involving communities and their representatives in
envisioning the future and seeking ways to make the
preferred futures more likely. Rural residents have
aspirations for the next generation that are more
concrete and compelling than the abstract goals that
policy-makers debate and the quantified targets that
is the main reason why I am hopeful that CBNRM can
become an effective approach to natural resource conservation
and management. For this to succeed, rural populations
need more information and channels for expressing
their interests, hopes and ideas regarding how to
give their children and their children's children
a chance to enjoy life as abundant as nature's resources
and human skills, knowledge, talents and cooperation
can provide, and to live in environments that maintain
the diversity, integrity and productivity that have
permitted human societies to advance this far.
on her observations during fieldwork in Western
India, Baviskar (1995: 173) comments: "While reverence
for nature is evident in the myths and many ceremonies
which attempt to secure nature's cooperation, that
ideology does not [necessarily] translate into a
conservationist ethic or a set of ecologically sustainable
Schelhas in a personal communication has estimated
that perhaps 80 to 90 percent of biodiversity conservation
in the world is 'incidental', a by-product of other
activities that are more intrinsically rewarding,
such as growing shade-grown coffee which harbors
high bird and insect diversity, or maintaining riparian
forests that protect watersheds but also provide
habitat and migration corridors for wildlife species.
Many traditional farming systems that rely on polycropping
and nutrient cycling contribute to the maintenance
of biodiversity, as do parks and protected areas
set aside for recreational or scenic values. These
objectives are enhanced by having greater biodiversity,
but this benefit is more incidental than planned
designations have been given to the middle sector:
the participatory sector, the voluntary sector,
the membership sector, the collective action sector,
the self-help sector (Uphoff 1993). For simplicity's
sake, this sector is here referred to as 'the middle
sector'. Along with this, there has arisen something
referred to as the NGO (non-governmental organization)
sector (Carroll 1992; Clark 1991; Edwards and Hulme
1992; Farrington and Bebbington 1993; Fisher 1993).
I would include NGOs as a part of the private sector,
as explained below.
systematic distinction is made here between institutions
and organizations, but understanding this is important
for a deeper appreciation of CBNRM options. This
distinction is analyzed in Uphoff (1986: 8-10; and
is suggested by Larry Fisher, based in part on his
work with colleagues in Indonesia (Fisher et al.
using radioisotope analysis to trace the sources
of soil and silt accumulation in the Nizao reservoirs
showed that erosion associated with hillside cultivation
was a negligible contributing factor compared to
the disturbance of soil that resulted from road
building and reservoir construction (Nagle 1997).
So efforts directed at changing or stopping certain
farming practices to slow the loss of reservoir
capacity were largely misdirected, since the government
itself was responsible for more demonstrable environmental
disruption than were farmers.
some protected areas depend on habitat connections
to areas outside their boundaries, which is why
conservation biologists so often argue for expanded
areas of protection with jurisdictions that extend
into private lands. So sometimes the boundaries
of 'protected areas' are not that evident, and even
the resources within them (water, wildlife, forests,
and forest products) may be somewhat ambiguous because
of their variety and uncertain value (suggestion
from John Schelhas).
1992, I participated in the design of this project,
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I would like to thank numerous colleagues for their
thoughts and inputs to this analysis: Lourdes Brache,
Louise Buck, Paul Ferraro, Larry Fisher, Chuck Geisler,
Ron Herring, Nadia Rabesahala Horning, Jeff Langholz,
Kwesi Opoku-Debrah, Max Pfeffer, and John Schelhas.
Updated: June 28, 2002