When will community management conserve biodiversity? Evidence from Malawi
03 Dec 2008
Consultant on Environmental Economics and Policy
Abstract. Both development practitioners and conservation organizations are focused on community ownership and management of natural resources as a way to create incentives for the conservation of biodiversity. This has led to the implementation of a number of large community-based conservation projects in sub-Saharan Africa, in countries including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, and Rwanda. While the concept is logical, and valuation studies may suggest that conservation is more valuable than other uses of the resources in some areas, there has been little detailed analysis of the financial costs and benefits to the communities, to determine whether they would actually have an incentive to conserve if they had more extensive legal rights to the resources. This paper assesses the conditions under which this approach may be viable, based on a valuation study of the resources of Mount Mulanje in southern Malawi.