Comanagement of Natural Resources: Local Learning for Poverty Reduction

Comanagement of Natural Resources: Local Learning for Poverty Reduction

Comanagement of Natural Resources: Local Learning for Poverty Reduction

Comanagement of Natural Resources: Local Learning for Poverty Reduction


The developing world's poorest people live in marginal, often harsh rural environments- environments which tend to be fragile and highly vulnerable to overexploitation. These rural people depend directly on their local ecosystems for access to the food, forage, fuel, fiber, water, medicines and building materials. What types of natural resource management (NRM) can improve the livelihoods of these poor people while protecting or enhancing the natural resource base they depend on? New approaches to NRM are needed: ones that move beyond the earlier narrow focus on productivity (such as crop yields), to include social, institutional and policy considerations.

One such approach--comanagement--is presented in this book. It can be defined as collaborative arrangements in which the community of local resource users, local and senior governments, and other stakeholders share responsibility and authority for managing a specified natural resource or resources. This book draws on more than a decade of research across the developing world and presents case studies from Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Lebanon, and Viet Nam.

A key message to resource managers, policymakers, researchers, and development practitioners is that proposed solutions to NRM problems will be effective and lasting only if driven by the knowledge, action, and learning of local users. This book presents only a small sample of the research on community based NRM supported by IDRC over the years. For more analysis, discussion, and case material visit the companion website,, which is included with this book, on a CD-ROM.


In the past two decades we have seen dramatic developments in the understanding of equitable and sustainable natural resource management. These have been informed and backed by innovation and research, not least that supported by IDRC, Canada's International Development Research Centre. The old ideas of command and control, of blaming poor people for mismanagement of their resources, have been overturned. As this book shows, the results can be truly remarkable.

Researchers and other outsiders change their mindsets, behaviours, attitudes, and ideas about their roles. They become convenors, facilitators, negotiators, and supporters. Local people become the main actors, learners, managers, and owners of the process of change. The goals of equity for people who live at the margins, and of sustainable management, are approached and achieved by starting not with natural resources but with people, enabling . . .

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