Co-management of conservation areas offers multiple benefits
December 1, 2008
Conservation of tropical ecosystems is a complex task requiring not only the need for basic information on the distribution, ecology, and state of conservation of its components, but also a delicate articulation of social interests at local, regional, and national levels. In many cases conservation priority, and therefore resources to be invested, vary from locality to locality and from region to region in each country. To achieve a reasonable use of limited resources within the needs of a conservation framework requires various types of approaches, some of which may or may not be viable depending on the historical, geographical, political, and economic contexts of each locality. Equally important are the social and economic costs of conservation to local communities, which in many cases perceive conservation as a liability and as a burden due to competition for land and other resources, property damage, and risk to life.
The Serengeti (Tanzania, East Africa)—one of the flagship conservation areas of the world—is a case in point and the focus of a new paper published in the December issue of Tropical Conservation Science by Jafari R Kideghesho and Paul E Mtoni. The authors argue that conservation in the Serengeti needs to be approached as co-management involving sharing of power, responsibilities, and rights and duties between the government and local resource users. They advocate for intensive community involvement and reactivation of local traditional institutions in co-management approaches.
The authors feel that raising awareness, educating about the legal aspects of conservation, and giving local communities autonomy over conservation decisions will yield positive attitudes among the people toward conservation. They also suggest that this should be paralleled by government bureaucracies becoming more sensitive to community approaches to conservation and good governance.
Kideghesho, J. R. and Mtoni, P. E. 2008. The potentials for co-management approaches in western Serengeti, Tanzania. Tropical Conservation Science Vol.1 (4):334-358