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Chapter 11 - Communities, parks, and regional planning: A co-management strategy based on the Zimbabwean experience

Simon C. Metcalfe

Historical background
The post-colonial dilemma
Empowering local management
Managing the communal wildlife areas
People, wildlife, and property
Local institutional development
Sustained use
A caring partnership

Historical background

A "community" in pre-colonial Zimbabwe consisted of a hierarchy of land communities nesting one within the other and with membership depending on acceptance by traditional authority at each level of authority. Common pool resources such as wildlife, grazing, firewood, and water were regulated within this structure (Holleman, 1966). While population densities were far less and fragmentation of habitat hardly a matter of great anxiety in the nineteenth century, Cousins (1987) states that the land-tenure system functioned as a mechanism of social control.

Interventions by the European colonial powers in the twentieth century in Africa had a radical impact on traditional land-tenure systems. Nations were established that cross-cut cultural and natural systems. Statutory laws were promulgated that alienated local people from land, grazing, forest, and wildlife resources. Rural people lost access to wildlands as protected areas were established and also lost legal access to wildlife on their own land. The appropriation by the state of natural resources generally led to the emergence of elements of an "open access" system, with individual entrepreneurship invading the commons as a collective sense of proprietorship was lost (Murphree and Cumming, 1990).

The post-colonial dilemma

The independent states of sub-Saharan Africa have largely attempted to maintain the principle of state control of the wildlife estate.

In doing so they have served the tenets of conventional Western wildlife conservation and learnt little from the rural development experiences occurring all around the parks. Consequently, the parks and the park management became irrelevant to the local development effort. It is axiomatic that a management system that depends on external sanctions and incentives for success will collapse unless they are maintained. It would be a fair appraisal to state that areas in rural Africa protected by conventional law-enforcement methods have failed, as species become increasingly threatened and habitat isolated.

Many factors--population growth, poverty, corruption, and a lack of representation, viable local market economies, and good planning-- combine with weak enforcement to contribute to the fragmentation of ecosystems around protected areas. If these islands were closely linked to local land-use planning, they could contribute to local development and might greatly enhance local appreciation of the value of biodiversity.

The concerns raised by conservation biologists regarding minimum viable areas for maintaining species diversity indicate that many parks are not self-sufficient. Protected areas are inadequate for the preservation of many large mammals and predators, as the habitat is insufficiently stable to protect biological processes and species adequately (Wilcox, 1980; Soulé, 1885; Shaffer, 1987; Western, 1989; Cumming, 1990).

Finally, most wildlife and its habitat actually exist outside of protected areas where the policy of state proprietorship in African savanna areas has nullified the potential value wildlife could have on communal and private land.

Empowering local management

The fortress mentality inherent in constantly defending parks in a losing battle against rural development led Zimbabwean ecologists to rethink wildlife management policy. It was noted that as long as all wildlife remained in the realm of the state, the public--private or communal--could not invest in it. Unless the public was granted access to wildlife there was no possibility of a multispecies production system approach to land use. Unless some complementarity exists between the protected and communal land, the "hard edge" approach continues, with increasing conflict over land use and management and regional planning.

With the Parks and Wildlife Act of 1975 the Zimbabwe Government, as the responsible authority, reconciled this conflict by granting the right to manage and administer wildlife ("appropriate authority") to landowners (private) and landholders (communal). The results were initially dramatic in the private sector, where land allocated to wildlife has expanded rapidly, competing with and complementing cattle-based range management systems (Child, 1991). In the communal sector the obvious difficulties inherent in common-pool resource management of a mobile (fugitive) resource have been addressed through the CAMPFIRE policy, now an integral part of the National Conservation Strategy.

In Zimbabwe it is the communal areas that largely surround the protected areas, and consequently it largely depends on the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management and CAMPFIRE to reconcile parks and communities within a wider regional plan.

Managing the communal wildlife areas

It has become clear in the CAMPFIRE program that to achieve a positive co-management structure three main stakeholders have to settle on an effective institutional framework and collaborate closely: the communities, their local authorities (councils), and the Ministry of Environment (parks, forests, and natural resources agencies). The communities are the primary stakeholders, and the environment agency is a technical support agency and arbitrator. The local authority is the lowest level of formal statutory accountability, and the only one to which statutory law can delegate powers.

This raises the vital issue of accountability between local authority and communities. Are the people accountable to the council or vice versa? Which way does democracy actually work? Are the people shareholders or labor? In response, the CAMPFIRE program has established a set of principles to guide the relationship between local councils and people. These principles attempt to avoid an unfair bureaucratic tax on the wildlife resource that domestic resources (livestock) do not have to suffer. They include the following (Murphree, 1991):

(1) Effective management of wildlife is best achieved by giving it focused value for those who live with it.

(2) Differential inputs may result in differential outputs.

(3) There must be a positive correlation between quality of management and the magnitude of benefit.

(4) The unit of proprietorship should be the unit of production, management, and benefit.

(5) The unit of proprietorship should be as small as practicable, within ecological and sociopolitical constraints.

The CAMPFIRE program cannot claim to have achieved its objectives, but can claim to be establishing the framework for developing institutional capacity in the local community for managing wildlife resources. That capacity, within acceptable community organization, will serve the management of natural resources in a holistic way as much as the single resource of wildlife. The most positive way to educate a community on the importance of the natural processes of the ecosystem is to first empower them with responsibility for its costs and rents. The CAMPFIRE program argues strongly in favor of sustained use as the springboard for large-mammal diversity integration into communal land-use practices. Such use outside a protected area is effectively subsidized by the preservationist approach of the protected zone. The park may be perceived as an eco-bank supplying interest in the form of a renewable supply of wild animals. The softening of the "hard edge" between zones has always been a goal of buffer-zone approaches, but too often the relationship between people and park has been asymmetrical and not a genuine meeting of land uses and authorities (Brown, 1991).

People, wildlife, and property

Unlike crops and domestic livestock, wildlife is a common-pool resource like rivers, grazing lands, and forest areas. Since it is mobile, communities need to know their boundaries and form collaborative associations with their neighbors. This is particularly necessary with large mammals and predators whose range is greater than any one basic CAMPFIRE unit.

By definition, common property resources are ones from which it is difficult to exclude interloping appropriators. Privatization of the African rangelands is often not feasible, while state control has proved inadequate. A successful approach to this commons dilemma may be found in complementary and compatible relationships between the

resource, the technology for its exploitation, the property-rights regime and the larger set of institutional arrangements (Berkes, 1989). In cases of communities and their relations to protected areas, cooperative management arrangements (co-management) are needed, involving the sharing of power between governments and local communities. On communal land itself a common property-management system is implied.

Ostrom (1990) argues for the necessity of a set of design principles that have been illustrated by examples of long-enduring common pool resource (CPR) institutions.

(1) Clearly defined boundaries. Individuals and households who have rights to withdraw resource units from the CPR must be clearly defined, as must the boundaries of the CPR itself.

(2) Congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions. Appropriation rules restricting time, place, technology, and/or quantity of resource units are related to local conditions and to provision rules requiring labor, material, and/or money.

(3) Collective choice arrangements. Most individuals affected by the operational rules can participate in modifying them.

(4) Monitoring. Monitors, who actively audit CPR conditions and appropriator behavior, are accountable to the appropriators or are the appropriators.

(5) Graduated sanctions. Appropriators who violate operational rules are to be assessed graduated sanctions (depending on the seriousness and context of the offense) by other appropriators, by officials who are accountable to these appropriators, or by both.

(6) Conflict-resolution mechanisms. Appropriators and their officials have rapid access to low-cost local arenas to resolve conflicts among appropriators or between them and officials.

(7) Recognition of rights to organize. The rights of appropriators to devise their own institutions are not challenged by external government authorities.

(8) Nested enterprises. For CPRs like CAMPFIRE that are parts of larger systems, the activities of appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises.

The minimal recognition by African governments of local communities' right to organize and define their own institutions for natural resource and wildlife management is the fundamental policy principle that inhibits co-management possibilities at present. The success or failure of common property resource management has to do with the exclusion and regulation of joint use (Berkes, 1989). The chances of success for local-level management depend critically on legitimization and support by central government. This support is lacking in sub-Saharan Africa at present. No amount of lip service to community involvement will substitute for the need to empower groups with the "right of access" to definite resources, in bounded spaces institutionally established and integrated into a regional planning framework.

Local institutional development

The levels of decision-making, from individual, household, village, community (local), on to district and provincial (regional) and national and international, need to be nested and united in common purpose. The benefits inherent in maintaining diversity and stability in ecosystem conservation should not be the object of conflict, particularly between higher and lower levels in the decision-making process.

Rather than a hierarchy, the decision and action process should be seen from an individual perspective of concentric circles. Each circle of participation represents an institution (household, village, community, district) that embodies some kind of collective action (Uphoff, 1986). The benefits of the institutions are "public goods," and it is suggested that the natural resource base should be perceived as the natural capital of the economic dimension of the institution.

In this conceptual framework the protected area asserts a force primarily for the local public good but also balances local interests with those of a wider public and of future generations. Only through the evolution of viable local natural-resource-management institutions will the greater public, through its agencies, be able to establish a network of co-management institutions capable of not only planning but managing a wider landscape than the park.

A way exists to maintain Africa's splendid large-mammal diversity in savanna land use by facilitating the establishment of local wildlife-management systems, linked together and with the government-protected areas. Governments should not only discuss trade-offs outside the park but realize the necessity for trade-offs inside as well. The buffer zone is not outside the park but between the perceptions of central government and local people regarding appropriate use of local resources.

Sustained use

Most consumptive use of wildlife in Africa is defined by governments as illegal. While efforts to protect endangered species with force are important and heroic at times, they should not hide a profound malady of approach. While all common-pool resources need protection from illegal appropriation, the loss of Africa's elephants and rhinos in the past decades is symptomatic of a massive divide in perception of value between governments and local people.

While Western governments may believe they can protect the remnants of their wildlife diversity by the investment of enforceable regulations, it is unlikely that Africa can invest the management cost. Wildlife has to save itself, and the experience of Zimbabwe and other countries indicates that it can, provided it is used wisely and marketed effectively and the rents are appropriated to the land they came from. It is a gross tragedy that elephants and rhinos, for example, have paid so much and received so little protection in return.

Respect and care for the community of life includes improvement in the quality of human life, the conservation of the earth's vitality and diversity, and the sustained use of renewable resources (IUCN, 1991). An African conservation ethic is necessary, and it is proposed that it be based on local proprietorship and sustained use, with protected areas providing a local subsidy to ensure harmony between protected and public lands. This in turn will require governments to empower their rural people at the expense of urban people. Some communities will come off better than others. CAMPFIRE does not argue for equity but for socioeconomic justice. Those who pay the costs of having wildlife on their land must receive the economic benefit. There must be an incentive for having wildlife instead of goats and cows on the range, and it must be competitive or complementary. As McNeely (1988) states, behavior affecting the maintenance of biological diversity can best be changed by providing new approaches to conservation that alter people's perceptions of what behavior is in their self-interest.

McNeely goes on to say that unfortunately too little biodiversity will be conserved by market forces alone, and that effective government intervention is required. What "effective government intervention" is, how it will be paid for, and why it is lacking, are issues not generally stated. How are conservation costs to be met and by whom, if not by the people on the land and the countries they live in themselves?

A caring partnership

Maintenance of biodiversity depends on the integration of social, biotic, and economic factors. The future requires a new approach to basic needs that encompasses physical and emotional human needs as well as to maintain the ecosystems that sustains them. Governments must help rural people get back in touch with the natural resources in their areas and, on the basis of unequivocal local proprietorship, begin to reestablish a true spirit of stewardship. That spirit must translate into the process of institution-building for wildlife and natural-resource management.

The role of the state is to facilitate this process by ensuring an enabling framework and professional technical inputs. The role of science is to support the planning, training, monitoring, and evaluation phases of the policy process. The nature of the economic system for management is critical and should be determined locally, not bureaucratically, to ensure the full impact of the incentive structure. Investments must be made in developing the human institutions and understanding the ecosystem, its resources, and their use and market. Rents from the resource must be returned to the land through wise and gentle management and to the community. Managing the local environment must reward itself, and communities can determine and negotiate the rates for reinvestment (capital), sustainability (recurrent), income, community development, levies, taxes, etc.

The post-colonial synthesis proposed seeks to reunite old and new, local and central, cultural and natural diversity, in the context of modern Africa. To make co-management strategies possible, governments should be persuaded that the proposal is favorable to their own interests and does not threaten established decision-making processes. The affective economy, described by Hyden (1983), of networks of land, kinship, and support in much of rural Africa still offers a high human quality of life to many. The quality of all rural life could be lifted further by forest and wildlife departments' moving from being protectionist to becoming enablers of sustainable conservation and development.

Rural wildlife or natural-resource cooperatives could be allowed to negotiate with the national and international private sector on marketing the sustained yield from their common system. The possibility exists of regional and national associations supporting primary producers, able to capture the best possible values for their natural resource products. These resources are in some cases more valuable than others and include beautiful landscapes, lake shores, rivers, and forests as well as valuable minerals (gold, gemstones, etc.). In other areas resources are stressed by overuse. CAMPFIRE argues that you cannot generally subsidize one area from another. Spectacular resources like Victoria Falls contradict this view but reinforce the point that governments through their parks, forests, and powers can wield immense influence on local and regional land-use practices. Government need only empower people to manage their own resources and use the protected areas to supply further benefits in order to be a lead stakeholder in the policy-making for landscape planning. As it stands, the natural-resource departments in communal lands are far behind other agencies in extension services. Wildlife conservationists must participate in the development process armed with sound technical advice as to how to sustain the benefit flow.


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