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Success Factors for Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM): Lessons from Kenya and Australia

Abstract

Recent concerns over a crisis of identity and legitimacy in community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) have emerged following several decades of documented failure. A substantial literature has developed on the reasons for failure in CBNRM. In this paper, we complement this literature by considering these factors in relation to two successful CBNRM case studies. These cases have distinct differences, one focusing on the conservation of hirola in Kenya on community-held trust land and the other focusing on remnant vegetation conservation from grazing pressure on privately held farm land in Australia. What these cases have in common is that both CBNRM projects were initiated by local communities with strong attachments to their local environments. The projects both represent genuine community initiatives, closely aligned to the original aims of CBNRM. The intrinsically high level of “ownership” held by local residents has proven effective in surviving many challenges which have affected other CBNRM projects: from impacts on local livelihoods to complex governance arrangements involving non-government organizations and research organizations. The cases provide some signs of hope among broader signs of crisis in CBNRM practice.

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Acknowledgments

The research presented in this article was supported by funding from Australian Landscape Trust and in-kind support by CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences and Kenya Wildlife Service. Thanks to Nagoya University Global Environmental Leadership Program and Heinz Schandl for organizing the visiting fellowship which brought the authors together to conduct the comparison across case studies. Thanks also to Karin Hosking for editorial assistance. Thanks also to Cathy Robinson and Iris Bohnet for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Thomas G. Measham.

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Measham, T.G., Lumbasi, J.A. Success Factors for Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM): Lessons from Kenya and Australia. Environmental Management 52, 649–659 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-013-0114-9

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Keywords

  • Community-based conservation
  • Capacity building
  • Community participation
  • Livelihoods