The folowing criteria apply when considering instigating local resource mangement projects: (1) Project leaders must understand and work with the community. (2) A project's approach to working with the community should be clearly and carefully planned from the very beginning. (3) Diversity in the local community/ies increases the demand on the time, energy and resources of project staff working with them. (4) Suspicious or hostile attitudes or reactions from some parts of the community will likely remain a constant factor to manage, even in the best of circumstances. (5) Good projects can orient national policy framework (not just the other way around). (6) Private sector participation is important, but must be oriented to ensure it supports public interests. (7) An obvious, visible problem helps galvanize community and national support. (8) The project succeeds when people do things for themselves.
Community projects are based on the notion that by providing local communities with support for development, a direct link between conservation goals and community welfare objectives can be made. However, there are problems with providing material incentives. Successful community-based income-generation projects require a wide range of ingredients; many of which may be absent locally. Community expectations of "quick fix" development, and their ability to obtain it (by over exploiting natural resources) may preclude the search for solutions. The problem is that conventional exploitative practices may destroy the very resource base required for alternatives. Projects must invest heavily in education to transform communities' ideas about development.
Local citizens are often better able than government officials to identify the priorities for action. Members of local communities often know about cost-effective solutions that are not available to governments. The motivation and commitment of communities are often what sees an environmental project through to completion. This is especially true, for example, for soil conservation and afforestation projects such at the soil clubs of northeast Brazil in the 1980s or the Sahelian community-based land management programs of the 1990s. Programs are much more successful if they are developed with the beneficiaries rather than for them.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
TRACKER is a web-based tool to capture, organize, and disseminate information about changes in community-based natural resources management and conservation in Africa and to put colleagues in touch with one another. TRACKER helps organizations achieve multiple objectives within and outside their own structure. It allows them to: (a) help field offices and local partner organizations capture and organize information about their own activities in local level conservation and natural resources management (b) help the home office put their partner organizations and country program offices in touch with one another, keep track of experience being gained by multiple projects, and have ready material to use in developing reports to donors, (c) disseminate their experiences among other conservation and sustainable development organizations for potential partnerships, mutual learning, and other collaborative opportunities.
2. Communities should have a large measure of participation in the sustainable management and protection of local natural resources in order to enhance their productive capacity. This would include participatory management of natural resources, including rangeland, using methods based on innovative or adapted indigenous technologies, so as to meet both the needs of rural populations and conservation purposes. Incentives and, where appropriate and possible, resources should be provided to encourage participation of local communities in the planning, implementation and maintenance of their own conservation and reclamation programmes.
3. The rights and responsibilities of communities and societies regarding their natural wealth and resources are based on principles of intergenerational equity and justice, fully respecting the needs of all members of the community and society, including those of future generations.