Community-based management: a common benefit for nature and people | WWF

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Community-based management: a common benefit for nature and people

For more than 20 years, conservation actors such as WWF have trusted community-based natural resource management.

To this day, this form of natural resource management is ongoing and has been successful in preserving unique natural resources from various destructive practices because "it is entrusted to people who know the environments, who are living there,  have common history and shared interests with the resources. In return, nature provides the opportunity for community members to learn and build for local development," says Appolinaire Razafimahatratra from WWF. 

The grassroots community, Vondron'Olona Ifotony in Malagasy is an association made up of volunteer members of a local community around an area where natural resources are found. It is through a Natural Resource Management Transfer Contract from the forest and/or fisheries administration that the community becomes manager.  It is governed by the GELOSE law (Gestion Locale Securisée) since September 1996. Moreover, some communities, with the help of civil societies and public actors, have established visions, texts and laws on natural resource management.  This is the case in Ambaro Bay, where communities have a guide on the sustainable management of mangroves.    

Local communities monitor and protect natural resources by preventing poachers, illegal logging, deforestation, resource trafficking ... For example, the FUP BATAN has helped to dismantle illegal charcoal burners. Through community patrols and/or the sanctions imposed by the communities, there are therefore fewer illegal practices against natural resources.

On the other hand, communities value and restore natural resources. The ecotourism model to promote the Kivalo Mangrove Forests in western Madagascar is proof of that. In the Fandriana Vondrozo Corridor, more than 6,700 ha of forest areas have been restored, deforestation has been reduced from 2.58% to 1% and community incomes have increased by 30% thanks to sustainable production systems in 2018.

These restoration and development initiatives are supported by technical and financial partners. WWF intervenes by providing technical support and sharing good practices with community members: how to improve incomes and create jobs to lessen dependance on natural resources, what tools to develop, how to valorise natural capital and how to make common benefit for the community and for nature.

We now know that more than 1,400 community-based natural resource management contracts covering more than 2 million hectares are established between the administration and the grassroots communities. Their work must be recognized and valued, especially since community management is going through difficult phases: the sensitization of an entire population that has already been dependent on natural resources, the sacrifice of its members to work for a result that will undoubtedly only be palpable in years. Local community members also often face dangerous poachers. And they are often powerless in the face of insufficient means and support to deal with those guilty of illicit practices who are released, and disappointed because project funding is insufficient.  

Faced with these circumstances, local communities stick to their commitment and passion. In support, the work of accompaniment is a pillar that allows local communities to grow and make members grow in spite of difficult circumstances. For this, "It is necessary to dialogue with them, to know the local practices and understand their needs, it is an important step to seek a compromise and decide together what initiatives are to be developed to help local communities to the maximum" concludes Appolinaire Razafimahatratra.