Conserving nature communally

Community-based environmental conservation
Involving local people in conservation
One of the most powerful strategies for conservation of biodiversity in rural areas is to make local communities the beneficiaries and custodians of conservation efforts. The approach recognises that for people to support conservation, they have to benefit from it sustainably, in ways that do not harm it.
It is now widely recognised that conservation must go hand in hand with development. This approach is hard to implement but it is based on a strong foundation of common sense. It recognises that the future for conservation is bleak if rural communities do not support conservation efforts in their areas. It recognises that poverty destroys biodiversity as well as human lives.

The [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora] (CITES) recognizes that peoples and States are and should be the best protectors of their own wild fauna and flora.

Rural communities throughout the world have played an active role in conservation in three major areas. They have helped to generate knowledge based on an understanding of their environment. They have devised mechanisms to conserve and sustain their natural resources. Lastly, they have established community-based organizations that serve as forums for identifying problems and dealing with them through local level experimentation, innovation, and exchange information with other societies.

In Nepal's Annapurna Conservation Area, established in 1986 as a multiple-use area rather than a national park, government collaboration with local community groups brought about the establishment and enforcement of a land-use system that increases the local benefits from tourism and provided local people with training in conservation and forest management. The project successfully included a sceptical local population to participate in the management of the area, and has resulted in reduced conflicts.

On their own lands, the culturally native populations of Latin America protect large areas in natural ecosystems and achieve a renewable resource of a living environment. This relation can be reinforced by each of the four management options for the formal designation and organization or protected areas which are outlined in this paper: native owned lands, where the protection of the area is by native peoples; reserves, where a protected natural area corresponds with the territory of a particular native population; buffer zones, where a protected area serves as a physical or ecological barrier between native lands and the lands of others; and research stations, where certain areas under native management are organized as agricultural or ecological research stations.

1. As traditional peoples are integrated into the global economy and come under various pressures, they often lose their resource base, and in the long run, their knowledge systems, social institutions, and their world view which shapes their relations with the environment. The process of decoupling of traditional peoples from their resource base is likely to reduce the resilience of their social systems, as well as their local ecosystems through biodiversity loss. The two are related, and the reduction of resilience will make both social and ecological systems more fragile. One challenge for biodiversity conservation is to learn from the knowledge-practice-belief complex of traditional peoples. But a perhaps more important challenge is to implement elements of it in new 'traditional ecological/environmental knowledge' (TEK) systems which allow feedbacks from the environment, and respond to them in a more resilient way than do current day management practices.

2. Protected areas should become commonly owned resources managed so that local people earn material benefits from the wildlife in their midst, by harvesting meat, ivory and other wild produce, and by claiming revenues from safari tourism and controlled trophy hunting.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 15: Life on Land