Environmental Management

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 52–66 | Cite as

Key Principles of Community-Based Natural Resource Management: A Synthesis and Interpretation of Identified Effective Approaches for Managing the Commons

  • James S. Gruber


This article examines recent research on approaches to community-based environmental and natural resource management and reviews the commonalities and differences between these interdisciplinary and multistakeholder initiatives. To identify the most effective characteristics of Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), I collected a multiplicity of perspectives from research teams and then grouped findings into a matrix of organizational principles and key characteristics. The matrix was initially vetted (or “field tested”) by applying numerous case studies that were previously submitted to the World Bank International Workshop on CBNRM. These practitioner case studies were then compared and contrasted with the findings of the research teams. It is hoped that the developed matrix may be useful to researchers in further focusing research, understanding core characteristics of effective and sustainable CBNRM, providing practitioners with a framework for developing new CBNRM initiatives for managing the commons, and providing a potential resource for academic institutions during their evaluation of their practitioner-focused environmental management and leadership curriculum.


Community-based environmental initiatives Community-based natural resource management Environmental curriculum Interdisciplinary Process Social ecologic systems The Commons 



I acknowledge S. Margles, and M. Cadot (Antioch New England Institute of Antioch University New England), T. Webler and B. Kaplin (Antioch University New England), T. Legovic (R. Bošković Institute, Croatia), and P. Stoddard for their helpful comments and editorial assistance. Support for this work was provided by Antioch New England Institute and the N. Howes Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Studies, Antioch New England InstituteAntioch University New EnglandKeeneUSA

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