Sub-theme 9. Conservation, environmental justice and the commons
Are the Benefits of Community Wildlife Conservancies Significant Enough to Compensate for the “Lost” Critical Pastoral Grazing Areas?
The number of community wildlife conservancies (CWCs) in the greater Horn of Africa has steadily increased over the years. In Kenya alone, there are currently 167 conservancies, covering over 6.35 million hectares of land (11% of the country’s land surface). The CWCs are based on the premise that communities and land-owners can be the stewards of wildlife conservation working together with government agencies to protect and benefit from a healthy and productive environment. Studies have shown that the key benefits of conservancies are conservation of biodiversity & environment, provision of employment to mainly the youth as game scouts; education bursaries to children of members; linkage of the pastoral women to external handicraft markets; income from ecotourism; peace and security due to conflict resolution mechanisms and surveillance by game scouts; market outlet for pastoral livestock; and construction of health and education infrastructure. The main gainers in the conservancy model are therefore the youth and the women through their inclusion in decision making, direct employment, access to credit facilities and market linkages. On the other hand, the main losers are probably the youth involved in cattle rustling, elders who have to give up decision powers to the conservancy management (unless consulted), charcoal producers, poachers, as well as neigbouring non-member communities who have to contend with restricted access to otherwise communal resources within the conservancies. It is clear that equitable and therefore sustainable access to grazing resources, especially where multi-ethnic communities are involved is still a challenge under this model of natural resource management. Therefore, as long as the main source of livelihood for pastoralists in the region remains extensive livestock production, wildlife conservancies must address reciprocal access to pasture and water among the pastoral communities. This is particularly critical as restricted access to resources within the conservancies render the neighbouring non-member communities vulnerable to the impacts of droughts and climate variability and change. Ultimately, is critical to strike a balance between wildlife conservation and pastoral livelihoods, and therefore the question as to whether the benefits of CWCs outweigh the trade-offs, especially in the face of climate change. This panel discussion will therefore seek to answer whether the benefits from wildlife conservation can adequately compensate for the opportunity costs of dedicating critical grazing areas for conservation.
1. Farewell to a Maasai Commons in Western Kenya: Drivers and Consequences for People and Wildlife
1Life Net Nature, USA, 2University of Nairobi, Kenya, 3Maasai Moran Conservation and Walking Safaris, Kenya
In Kenya, an estimated 65% of wildlife live outside government protected areas and co-exist with livestock on private or community rangelands (King et al. 2015). Community rangelands seem ideal for community-based protected areas (CBC-PAs), but social constructs underpinning local land use decisions can facilitate or thwart nature protection. This presentation reviews a decade-long case study. In 2012, Maasai conservationists at Oloirien Group Ranch (OGR) in western Kenya began to advocate for creation of CBC-PA on communal land, referred to as a conservancy. Maasai Moran Conservation and Walking Safaris (MMCWS) led the effort with the goal of protecting OGR’s portions of Nyekweri Forest for elephant birthing and use by local people for water and forest products. In 2019 MMCWS began to advocate for the protection of savannah-woodland habitats used as nursery areas by endangered Maasai giraffes with the twin goal of sustaining a pastoral-commons for grazing livestock. In 2018, community members revealed that they were not willing to form a conservancy until communal land was privatized due to land “grabbing” by local elites. Heads of households had lost trust in local leadership and land use decision-making. Privatization began in 2019, and by 2021, many new landowners had sold their parcels to elites, or had fenced them resulting in stunning deaths of giraffes, zebras, and other wildlife. Now (2022-23) the making of conservancies is more complicated at OGR, but Maasai conservation groups remain optimistic and two conservancies totaling ~16,000 acres have been created in the Nyekweri Forest. Giraffe nursery habitats remain unprotected.
2. From Community Based to Community Driven: The evolution of community land resources management in Ngamiland District, Botswana
1University of Botswana, Botswana, 2Sesu Holdings, Botswana
Significant changes in management and benefits from communal land resources in Botswana was brought about by legal and policy instruments which were developed and implemented at independence in 1966. Most significant of these for small rural communities was the introduction of the community based natural resources management (CBNRM) programme in the 1990s. Using a case study approach of several CBNRM communities in Ngamiland District of Botswana we found a mixed fortune of failures and successes. We observed that the programme plays another, perhaps unintended, role. It has become a platform of interaction for three main actors; the communities, donors and process facilitators. In this paper we present the results of analysis of these interactions in CBNRM projects in the villages of Mababe, Gudigwa, Seronga and Tubu. We found that some benefits of these interactions include community exposure to new production systems, people (networking) and views which may be socio-politically empowering or disempowering. The empowerment manifests itself in the capacity of the community to source further support (technical or financial) after the original. While disempowerment manifests in the collapse of projects when outsiders leave. We argue that the ability of the community to sustain the CBNRM programme after outside actors leave depends on the nature of the interactions. That interactions which push a community ‘driven’ agenda of natural resources management is likely to be more community empowering than community ‘based’ processes. We propose a brokerage strategy which aims to facilitate community empowerment from the interactions, but also renders support and reinforcement of community efforts.
3. The long-term effects of conservation efforts in Mozambique: Evidence from big-push conservation and development initiatives
Philipps University Marburg, Deutschland
The main driver of deforestation in low- and middle-income countries located in the tropics is agriculture, often by smallholder farmers through slash and burn practices (Hosonuma et al., 2012). Thus, ecosystem service providers are mainly smallholder farmers managing the forests. In this study, we aim to assess the long-term impact of a terminated big-push asset-building PES scheme (2005-2015) located in the buffer zone of the Gorongosa National Park (the GNP exists in its current form since 2008) in Mozambique. First, the big push asset-building PES scheme not only offered individual payments for agroforestry adoption to farmers, but also community REDD+ payments, and had a general development component with job opportunities for local people. Second, the GNP is not simply a protected area as humans have been living in and around the park for centuries and currently about 200.000 people live in the park’s buffer zone. The GNP is the biggest employer (eco-tourism) in the region and assists local communities by providing development assistance (health, education, farming, CBNRM) that is compatible with conservation goals to generate a ‘win-win’ situation. We are interested in evaluating the long-term impacts of this policy combination in terms of wealth, longevity and potentially expansion also among non-PES-participants of agroforestry farming practices, and the potential for empowerment in terms of economic and environmental agency (pro-environmental behaviors, aspirations, self-efficacy, locus of control).
4. Explaining integrated animal and rewilding governance effectiveness in Africa
Radboud University, Netherlands
Land restoration and species reintroduction projects are becoming more common as the United Nations “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration” progresses. As a result, humans, domestic animals and wildlife increasingly interact. Simultaneously, recognition of animal sentience is growing in science, policy and public discourse. These issues represent two distinct governance systems with different goals. The rewilding governance system focuses on biodiversity conservation through species reintroduction and active landscape restoration. The animal governance system focuses on improving the health, welfare and rights of individual animals. This presentation identifies two critical relationships between these governance systems: 1) technical – the sharing of information and creation of processes to improve animal health and welfare; and, 2) spatial – the sharing of information and creation of processes on human-animal (domestic, wild and reintroduced) coexistence in shared landscapes. It analyses and explains these governance system relationships and effectiveness using an Integrative Governance framework. It does so through two local case studies, a community conservancy in Kenya and a private reserve in South Africa, informed by interviews and qualitative observations. The presentation addresses ideas of convivial conservation, multi-species justice and how transformative change can facilitate our coexistence in multispecies assemblages.
5. Explaining human-wildlife conflicts in Indian Himalayas
Indian Forest Service, India
The frequency and intensity of human-wildlife conflicts are predicted to increase due to climate change and the continuous destruction of habitats to support economic development. Understanding and managing these conflicts is critical to protecting forests, wildlife and biodiversity while safeguarding local livelihoods. This study explores key causal factors and processes that shape human-wildlife conflicts in Indian Himalaya using causal machine learning. Building on expert domain knowledge, causal machine learning is a novel methodological approach that can help model counterfactual scenarios, and therefore, can identify causal factors and stable and independent mechanisms driving human-wildlife conflicts. Loss and fragmentation of wild habitats, poor solid waste and wildlife management, and changing livelihood regimes emerged as critical factors shaping human-wildlife conflicts. Such knowledge can help design better policies to achieve human-wildlife co-existence for improved social-ecological outcomes.