Managing Natural Resources for Development in Africa: A Resource Book

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Managing Natural Resources for Development in Africa: A Resource Book

Edited by
Washington O. Ochola
Pascal C. Sanginga
Isaac Bekalo


A co-publication with the
International Development Research Centre
PO Box 8500, Ottawa, ON K1G 3HP
Email:     |

Managing natural resources for development in Africa: A resource book / ed. by Washington O. Ochola, Pascal C. Sanginga and Isaac Bekalo. – Nairobi: University of Nairobi Press, International Development Research Centre, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture. 2010.

1. Natural resources - Integrated management 2. Natural resources, Community – Africa 3. Natural resources – Gender 4. Natural resources – Climate change
5. Natural resources - Governance, Policy
1. Ochola, Washington O. II. Sanginga, Pascal C. III. Bekalo, Isaac.

HC 85 .M35

ISBN 9966-792-09-0   (978-9966-792-09-9)
ISBN (IDRC e-book) 978-1-55250-506-9 


International Development Research Centre
Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa,
P.O. Box 62084, 00200, Nairobi, Kenya

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. IDRC also encourages sharing this knowledge with policy makers, other researchers, and communities around the world. The result is innovative and lasting local solutions that aim to bring choice and change to those who need it most.


International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR)
Africa Regional Centre, P.O Box 66873-00800, Nairobi, Kenya

The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that aims to improve the quality of lives of the rural poor in developing countries through rural reconstruction; a sustainable, integrated, people-centered development strategy generated through practical field experiences.


Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM)
Plot 151 Garden Hill, Makerere University
P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda.

RUFORUM is a consortium of universities in Eastern and Southern Africa established in 2004 to oversee graduate training and networks of specialization in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries.


University of Nairobi Press (UONP)
P.O Box 30197-00100 Nairobi, Kenya

The University of Nairobi Press supports and promotes University of Nairobi’s objectives of discovery, dissemination and preservation of knowledge, and stimulation of intellectual and cultural life by publishing works of the highest quality in association with partners in different parts of the world. In doing so, it adheres to the University’s tradition of excellence, innovation and scholarship.

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List of Illustrations


List of Tables


List of Boxes


List of Contributors








Acronyms and Abbreviations




P. C. Sanginga, I. Bekalo and W. O. Ochola

Why this Book on Managing Natural Resources for Development in Africa?


Users and Uses of the Book


How this Book was Produced: The Writeshop Process


Content of the Book


1. Natural Resource Management and Development Nexus in Africa


P.C. Sanginga, W. O. Ochola and I. Bekalo



NRM, Poverty and Development Linkages


Summary and Conclusion


Learning Activities


Revision Questions




2. Concepts, Theories and Principles of Natural Resource Management


E. K. Maranga, P. H. Mugabe and R. K. Bagine



Natural Resources, Natural Resource Systems and their Importance


Ecosystem Concepts and Theories


Forest Ecosystem Endowment and Opportunities


Summary and Conclusion


Learning Activities


Revision Questions




3. Integrated Natural Resource Management


R. K. Bagine, G. Kironchi, and E. K. Maranga



Philosophy of INRM


Concepts and Context of INRM


Ecosystem Approach to INRM


Conservation Perspectives in INRM


Participatory Land Use and Resource Planning in INRM


Tools for INRM


INRM and Conflicts Management


Mitigation and Adaptations Strategies in INRM


Integration of Technology and Indigenous Knowledge in INRM


Summary and Conclusions


Learning Activities


Revision Questions


Further Reading




4. Community-Based Natural Resource Management


V. O. Wasonga, D. Kambewa and I. Bekalo



Concepts and Principles of CBNRM


Theories for Community Based Natural Resources Management


Approaches to CBNRM


Designing and Implementing CBNRM Projects


Benefits of Community Based Natural Resource Management Projects


Conflicts Management in Community Based Natural Resource Management


Role of Indigenous Knowledge in CBNRM




Learning Activities


Revision Questions


Further Reading




5. Gender and Natural Resource Management


C. Ndungo, C. Masiga, I. Bekalo, W.O. Ochola and R. A. Mwonya



Why Gender in NRM?


Gender Concepts and Perspectives in NRM


Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks of Gender Responsive Natural Resource Management


The Gender Analysis Frameworks


Gender and Policy Implications in Natural Resource Management


Gender in NRM Research




Learning Activities


Revision Questions


Further Reading




6. Natural Resource Management in the Context of Climate Change


P.Z. Yanda, T. Yatich, Washington O. Ochola and N. Ngece



Climate Change


Climate Change – Ecosystem Linkages


Climate Change Impacts and Vulnerability


Climate Change Mitigation


Climate Change Coping Strategies and Adaptation


Climate Change Governance


Climate Change Scenarios




Learning Activities


Further Reading




7. Natural Resource Project Planning and Management


W. O. Ochola and D. Nyariki



Project Planning


Project Management in Natural Resources


Frameworks for NRM Project Design and Management


Developing NRM Project Proposal


Project Scheduling and Time Management


Stakeholder Participation in NRM Projects


NRM Project Implementation


NRM Project Monitoring and Evaluation


NRM Project Budgeting


NRM Project Sustainability


NRM Project Risk Management




Learning Activities


Revision Questions


Further Reading




8. Policy and Governance in Natural Resource Management


D. Nyariki, P. Sanginga, Y. Yemshaw and W. Kakuru



Concepts and Elements of Policy and Governance in NRM


Elements of Public Policy


Policy Processes in Natural Resource Management


International and Regional NRM Policy Instruments


Frameworks, Processes and Tools for NRM Policy Development


Tools for Policy Analysis in NRM


Governance and Community Institutions for Natural Resources Management


Linking NRM Research to Policy


Learning Activities




9. Research in Natural Resource Management


P.H. Mugabe, W.O. Ochola and Y.Yemshaw

Introduction and Scope


Conceptual Definition of Natural Resource Management Research


Evolution of Natural Resource Management Research (NRMR)


Research for Natural Resources Management Innovations


Community Participation in Natural Resources Management Research


Managing Natural Resource Management Research


Research Communication, Dissemination and Knowledge Management




Learning Activities


Revision Questions






Book Project Team




List of Illustrations

Figure 1.1:

The Linkages Between Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss


Figure 1.2:

The Poverty-Environment Vicious Cycle


Figure 1.3:

The Environmental Entitlements Framework


Figure 1.4:

The Three-Ring Interconnected and Nested Views of Sustainable Development Depicting the Mutually Enforcing and Interdependent Pillars of Sustainable Development


Figure 1.5:

The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework


Figure 1.6:

Examples of Important NRM Issues in Africa


Figure 2.1:

Ecosystem Structure Indicating the Components, Linkages and Associated Fluxes


Figure 2.2:

Ecosystems Services and Human Well-Being


Figure 2.3:

A Framework for Compensation and Rewards for Environmental Services (CRES)


Figure 2.4:

Relationship Between State Factors Interactive Controls and Ecosystem Processes


Figure 2.5:

Pyramid of Energy


Figure 2.6:

Dynamics of Carbon Exchange Involving the Atmospheric and Oceanic Compartments of the Ecosphere


Figure 2.7:

An Example of a Simplified Food Web Showing Interlinked Food Chains


Figure 2.8:

The Nitrogen Cycle


Figure 2.9:

Scale and Cross Scale Interactions in Human and Ecological Systems


Figure 2.10:

Global Terrestrial Biomes


Figure 2.11a:

Different Perspectives of Resilience


Figure 2.11b:

Adaptive Cycle Stages


Figure 2.12:

Schematic Representations of the Cyclical Steps of Adaptive Management for Natural Resource


Figure 2.13:

Forest Cover in Africa


Figure 2.14:

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Conceptual Framework


Figure 2.15:

Ecohealth Approach in Ecosystem Management Showing Environmental, Community, Political and Economic Interactive Domains


Figure 3.1:

Key Elements of INRM and Complexity of Natural Resources Interaction


Figure 3.2:

Illustration of Integrated Soil Fertility Management Strategy Applied in Upland Rice Production


Figure 3.3:

A new settler clears indigenous trees to cultivate crops in the Mau Forest Complex, which is Kenya’s largest water tower. (Photo, February 2005)


Figure 3.4:

Interactions Between Ecosystem Services, Human Well-Being and Drivers of Change


Figure 3.5:

Natural Resource Management and Use: Ecosystem Approach and Linkages Between Processes, Functions and Services


Figure 3.6:

Nesting of Systems and Subsystems in INRM


Figure 3.7:

Integration of Diverse Elements in INRM


Figure 3.8:

Conceptual Framework or Strategy to Deal with Scaling Issues in INRM


Figure 3.9:

Some Generalized Preconditions for Successful INRM


Figure 3.10:

Some Elements of INRM Research


Figure 3.11:

The Eleven Cornerstones of INRM


Figure 3.12:

Components of Integrated Natural Resource Management


Figure 3.13:

Schematic Representation of an Expanded Framework for Fisheries Management


Figure 3.14:

The Multi-Level Analytical Framework (MLAF) to the Management of Natural Resources


Figure 3.15:

Biophysical Processes at Different Spatial Scales of Analysis


Figure 3.16:

The Relative Adoption Potential and Contribution to Soil Fertility Enhancement for Various Tested Soil Fertility Management Interventions


Figure 4.1:

Inter, Intra and Supra Relationships Between the Community and the Environment


Figure 4.2:

Steps in Identification of Appropriate Indigenous Knowledge


Figure 5.1:

A Maasai Pastoral Woman (Left) Unable to Compete With Men (Right) in Securing Watering Rights for Livestock in Kajiado, Kenya


Figure 5.2:

Fishing as a Natural Resource Exploitation Activity Requires Understanding of Underlying Gender Issues


Figure 5.3:

DFID Gender Mainstreaming Strategy


Figure 5.4:

Project-Based Gender Analysis Framework


Figure 5.5:

Access and Control Profile for Camel Resource among the Rendile in Kenya


Figure 6.1:

Global Mean Surface Temperature Difference Relative to the 1961– 1990 Average


Figure 6.2:

Mean Surface Temperature Change for the Period 2000 to 2009 Relative to the Average Temperatures From 1951 to 1980


Figure 6.3:

An Idealized Model of the Natural Greenhouse Effect


Figure 6.4:

The Geographic Distribution of Surface Warming During the 21st Century Calculated by the Hadcm3 Climate Model if a Business as Usual Scenario is Assumed for Economic Growth and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In this Figure, The Globally Averaged Warming Corresponds to 3.0 °C (5.4 °F)


Figure 6.5:

Schematic Representation of the Effect on Extreme Temperatures When the Mean Temperature Increases, for a Normal Temperature Distribution


Figure 6.6:

Total Green House Gas Emissions by Country in 2000 Including From Land Use Change


Figure 6.7:

Schematic Framework Representing Anthropogenic Drivers, Impacts of and Responses to Climate Change, and their Linkages


Figure 6.8:

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an Approach to Mitigation. Emissions may be Sequestered from Fossil Fuel Power Plants, or Removed During Processing in Hydrogen Production. When Used on Plants, it is Known as Bio-Energy With Carbon Capture and Storage


Figure 6.9:

Carbon Sequestration Potential of Different Land Use and Management Options


Figure 6.10:

Relationships Between Different Domains and How Nested Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) Could be Addressed Through Interactions Between Action Institutions and Knowledge Systems


Figure 6.11:

Total Global Annual CO2 Emissions from all Sources (Energy, Industry, and Land-Use Change) from 1990 to 2100 (in Gigatonnes of Carbon (Gtc/Yr)) for the Four IPCC Scenarios


Figure 7.1:

Interaction Between Activities in Planning for Various Project Management Plans Development


Figure 7.2:

Natural Resource Inventory and Planning


Figure 7.3:

The Project Cycle


Figure 7.4:

Distribution of Water Points in a Livestock Project – Ranch


Figure 7.5:

The Project Management Triangle


Figure 7.6:

The Core Elements of NRMProject Management


Figure 7.7:

Traditional Project Management Approach


Figure 7.8:

Basic Representation of the Use of RBM in NRM Project Management


Figure 7.9:

Completing the Logical Framework Matrix Using (A) Vertical and (B) Horizontal Logic


Figure 7.10:

A Classical Results Chain for NRM Project Result Logical Flow


Figure 7.11:

The Steps of Outcome Mapping


Figure 7.12:

Place of Proposal Writing in the Overall Project Design Cycle


Figure 7.13:

A Network Diagram Representing an Eight Event Project


Figure 7.14:

Final Network Diagram for the Community Based Wetlands Product Value Chain Project


Figure 7.15:

Network Diagram Generated from Microsoft Project 2003 Software for the Community Based Wetlands Product Value Chain Project


Figure 7.16:

Network Diagram Project Schedule with Gantt Chart Generated from Microsoft Project 2003 Software for the Community Based Wetlands Product Value Chain Project


Figure 7.17:

Typical Stakeholder Management Framework


Figure 7.18:

Project Execution Plan


Figure 7.19:

MERI Continuous Participation and Communication Processes


Figure 7.20:

Essential Dimensions of NRM Project Sustainability


Figure 7.21:

Basic Project Risk Management Framework


Figure 8.1:

Policy Formulation Processes are Complex and Involve Multiple Stakeholders


Figure 8.2:

Policy Formulation by Government Authorities


Figure 8.3:

The ‘Context, Evidence, Links’ Framework


Figure 8.4:

Hierarchies of Nested Policies


Figure 8.5:

The Policy Development Stages


Figure 8.6:

Tools for addressing future uncertainty and complexity scenarios


Figure 8.7:

The RAPID Framework for Policy Analysis


Figure 8.8:

Framework for Assessing the Impacts of NRM Policy


Figure 8.9:

Framework for Participatory Policy Design and Implementation in NRM


Figure 9.1:

Integrated Natural Resource Management Research Furthers the Goals of Food Security, Poverty Reduction, and Environmental Protection


Figure 9.2:

Different Perspectives on Scaling-Up and Out in INRM Research


Figure 9.3:

Action Research Spiraling Cycles


Figure 9.4:

The Participatory Rural Appraisal Process


Figure 9.5:

Challenges of Managing Integrated Natural Resource Management Research


Figure 9.6:

Basic Elements of Knowledge Management


Figure 9.7:

Representation of Knowledge Levels for NRM Research Communication


List of Tables

Table 1.1:

Numbers of People Affected by Natural Disasters in Eastern and Southern Africa, 1998-2007


Table 1.2:

Characteristics of Selected Eastern and Southern African (ESA) Countries


Table 2.1:

Forest Cover Change in the Eastern African Countries 1990-2000


Table 2.2:

Examples of Biodiversity Effects on Ecosystems


Table 3.1:

Weaknesses and Strengths of Selected Methods and Tools for Scaling Out INRM


Table 3.2:

Examples of Simple, Practical and Adaptable Tools for Analyzing Conflicts


Table 3.3:

Strengths and Limitations of Customary Natural Resource Conflict Management Strategies


Table 3.4:

Strengths and Limitations of National Legal Systems


Table 3.5:

Strengths and Limitations of Alternative Conflict Management Interventions


Table 4.1:

Benefits of CBNRM


Table 4.2:

Types of Conflicts Arising in CBNRM


Table 4.3:

Strengths and Limitations of Different Conflict Management Mechanisms


Table 5.1:

Key Conceptual Differences Between WID and GAD


Table 5.2:

Major Milestones in the Evolution of Gender


Table 5.3:

An Overview of Participatory Tools for Gender Analysis


Table 6.1:

Major Developing Country Emitters and Annex I Five Biggest Carbon Dioxide Emitters by 2005


Table 7.1:

Summary of Viewpoints About Different Types of Project Plans


Table 7.2:

Explanation of the Elements of a Typical NRM Project Logical Framework


Table 7.3:

Project Profile Information Requirements


Table 7.4:

Expected Results Information Requirements


Table 7.5:

Monitoring and Evaluation Plan Information Requirements


Table 7.6:

Schedule and Description of Activities in a Wetlands Product Value Chain Project


Table 7.7:

Differences Between Monitoring and Evaluation


Table 7.8:

Generic NRM Outcome Hierarchy


Table 7.9:

Sample Project Budget Template


Table 8.1:

Design Criteria for Selecting Policies


Table 8.2:

Examples of Selected Policy Options and Tools in NRM


Table 8.3:

Characteristics of Good Governance and their Meaning


Table 8.4:

How to Influence Policy and Practice in NRM


Table 9.2:

Guidance for Developing and Using Scenarios


Table 9.3:

Sample Log-Frame for Community-Based Multi-Level Decision Making Data Requirements


Table 9.4:

Roles, Rights and Responsibilities of Data Stakeholders


Table 9.5:

Excerpt of Communication Plan of the ASARECA’s Cassava Mega Project


Table 9.6:

Suggested Dissemination Methods for Various Stakeholders


Table 9.7:

Tips for Developing Press Releases, Brochure and Policy Brief for Research Dissemination


List of Boxes

Box 1.1:

Millennium Development Goals


Box 1.2:

Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Initiative in Policy and Projects


Box 1.3:

Southern Ghana and the Leaves of Marantaceae Plants


Box 1.4:

Game Management in the Mkambati Reserve, South Africa


Box 1.5:

The Coastal Farm Forest Association


Box 1.6:

Landcare in Uganda


Box 1.7:

Sustainable Development History


Box 2.1:

Ecological and Management Perspectives: The Growing Challenges of Prosopis Juliflor


Box 2.2:

Invasive Species with Economic Impact


Box 2.3:

Principles of the Ecosystem Approach


Box 2.4:

The Following are the Major Findings of the Assessment


Box 3.1:

Mt. Elgon National Park and the Benet


Box 4.1:

Devolution: A Case from the Forestry Sector of Tanzania


Box 4.2:

Characteristics of a Successful CBNRM


Box 4.3:

The Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE)


Box 4.4:

The Namibian CBNRM Model


Box 4.5:

Community-Based Marine Turtle Conservation In Ghana


Box 4.6:

Budongo Forests Community Development Organization (BUCODO)


Box 4.7:

Land Grabbing in The Lake Chilwa Wetlands, Malawi


Box 4.8:

Conflict Over Water and Land in the Lake Chilwa Wetlands, Malawi


Box 4.9:

Ngitili System in Shinyanga, Tanzania


Box 4.10:

Use of Indigenous Natural Resource Management in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia


Box 5.1:

Gender and Fishing in West Africa


Box 5.2:

Gender Issues in CBO Management: Case of Nomadic Integrated Development and Research Agency (NIDRA)


Box 5.3:

Why Gender Analysis in NRM?


Box 5.4:

Gender Analysis Case Study for The Harvard Analytical Framework


Box 5.5:

Juma’s Livelihood


Box 6.1:

The El Niño Phenomenon


Box 6.2:

A Coral Reef – Terrestrial Forest Analogy


Box 6.3:

Tree Planting as an Income Stream as Well as Mitigating Strategy for Climate Change


Box 6.4:

Summary of The Mozambique National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA)


Box 6.5:

The IPCC Scenarios


Box 7.1:

The Case of Regional Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction Project


Box 7.2:

Key Factors in Project Management


Box 7.3:

The Principles of NRM Project Management


Box 7.4:

Typical Integrated RBM Framework Table of Contents


Box 7.5:

Typical Format of a Project Concept Note


Box 7.6:

The Basic Elements of a Project Proposal


Box 7.7:

Sample Stakeholder Table for a Natural Nesource Management Project


Box 7.8:

Key Questions Asked in a Project M&E Process


Box 8.1:

Uganda’s Water Policy for Agricultural Production—Objectives, Instruments, and Rules:


Box 8.2:

Exploring the Future Using Scenarios


Box 8.3:

Process of Formulating Formal By-Laws in Uganda


Box 9.1:

Selecting Research Sites


Box 9.2:

Who Should be Involved in NRM Research


Box 9.3:

Community Participatory Approaches in Natural Resource Management: The Case of Burkina Faso


Box 9.4:

Ethical Guidelines from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)


Box 9.5:

What are Patents and Who Uses Them?


Box 9.6:

NRM 10 Key Communication Plan Questions


List of Contributors


Operee holds a PhD in development economics and is engaged in teaching and research in the areas of gender and development studies. His publications cover the area of: Alternative strategy for development, bottom-up: Kenyan perspective; ‘Gender aspects in regional cooperation’, “The role of remittances from the diaspora in the national economic development. He is co author of Chapter 5, Gender and NRM.

Lecturer, Kenyatta University
PO Box 43844- 00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. +254 724513406. Email:


Prof. Ndungo holds a PhD and is a Professor in oral literature with a bias towards gender issues in societies. She has 22 years of teaching experience. Her areas of teaching have been gender, literature and language. Currently, she is the chairperson of the Department of Gender and Development studies at Kenyatta University. She has wealth of experience in consultancy, specifically on matters dealing with gender issues in politics. She has facilitated gender training and workshops for government and private institutions, both at local and international level.

Chairperson, Department of Gender and Development Studies, Kenyatta University
PO Box 43844-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. +254 722831866. Email:


Kambewa holds a PhD in rural sociology and is currently at the University of Malawi. He is a social scientist specialized in rural development and extension and draws on anthropology to analyze inter and intra relationships between and among society, environment and economy to understand the underlying socio-cultural, economic and political dimensions of rural development and natural resource management. Kambewa’s research interests cover customary land tenure systems, agriculture and rural livelihoods, natural resource (land and water) management, HIV and AIDS and livelihoods and ethnoveterinary medicine/indigenous knowledge systems (IKS).

Lecturer in Rural Sociology,
Bunda College of Agriculture, University of Malawi,
Box 219, Lilongwe, Malawi
Telephone +265 888 830, +265 999 830860. Email:


Nyariki has specialised in agricultural economics with a bias towards dryland agriculture, food security, and agricultural/natural resource policy. He taught at the University of Nairobi for more than 20 years. Courses taught include dryland resource policy; livestock economics; resource economics; project appraisal, planning, management and implementation; environmental management and protection; and pastoral technical change. He has carried out research and consultancy. He published about 40 articles in refereed journals and several books and book chapters on food security, agricultural productivity, policy, livestock management and economics, irrigation economics, and natural resource use and development. He has supervised tens of postgraduate students at masters and Ph.D. levels. He has co-ordinated regional projects involving IGAD, FAO, COMESA and EAC countries on food security. Nyariki previously worked in Kenya’s Civil Service as a District Range Planning Officer.

Associate Professor and Deputy Principal (Administration & Finance)
University of Nairobi & South Eastern University College
PO Box 29053-00625, Nairobi and 170 - 90200, Kitui, Kenya
Tel. +254 02 722770461. Email:


Maranga holds a PhD in natural resources management with a specialization in plant ecophysiology, range ecology, and microclimatology. His experience includes 22 years of teaching at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He has authored a textbook of microclimatology and published several refereed articles in international journals, chapters in books and papers in international proceedings. His areas of research interest include ecosystem modelling, systems ecology and dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems. Maranga is the lead author of Chapter 1 and co-author of Chapter 2. He was also a steering committee member that provided oversight for the book project.

Lecturer and Research Scientist, Egerton University
PO Box 536-20115 Njoro, Nakuru, Kenya
Tel. +254 722694378 Email:


Kironchi holds a PhD in soil science, specialising in soil conservation and water management from the University of Nairobi. He has wide experience in teaching at university, research and consultancy in natural resource management and environment. He has spearheaded preparation of new curricula in agroecosystems management, dryland resource management and sustainable soil resource management in the past five years at the University of Nairobi.

Senior Lecturer, Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology, University of Nairobi,
P.O. Box: 29053-00625, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. +254 722 377635. Email:


Bekalo holds a PhD in organizational development and planning. His experience includes teaching, NGO training, curriculum design and organizational development. He provides consultancy services on strategic planning, participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation, project design and proposal writing. He specializes in participatory development approaches and organizational development.

Regional Director for Africa, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction
PO Box 66873-00800 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. +254 20 4442610, 4440991 Fax +254 20 4448814 Email:


Ngece holds a MSc in Conservation biology, and is presently pursuing a PhD in environmental economics. He has worked as a trainer, manager, researcher in areas of natural resources management, climate change, CMDRR and consults widely in environmental issues including entrepreneurship. He is also an avid resource mobiliser and has supported many organizations in institutional development. He has taught at undergraduate and graduate level in two Kenyan universities. Presently, he supports IIRR in programme development and grants management.

Natural Resources Management Specialist, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction
PO Box: 66873 – 00800, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel.+254 722407558. Email:


Sanginga holds a PhD in rural sociology. He has accumulated progressive experience in conducting and managing research in agriculture and natural resource management in Africa. As a Senior Programme Specialist in the Environment and Agriculture Programme at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Sanginga’s diverse projects in Eastern and Southern Africa range from local scenario planning to scaling up and policy linkages in NRM. Before joining IDRC in 2007, Sanginga worked for the International Centre of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA), conducting multi-stakeholder research on participatory natural resource management, rural innovation systems, and gender analysis. He was also a research fellow at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria, where he studied the social impacts of agricultural innovations. He co-authored Innovation Africa-Enriching Farmers’ Livelihoods (2009) and has published on social capital, conflict management and participatory policy analysis in natural resources management.

Senior Programme Specialist
International Development Research Centre
PO Box 62084, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. +254 (20) 2713160/1. Email:


Yanda is a Professor of geography at the Institute of Resource Assessment, University of Dar es Salaam. He has served the University of Dar es Salaam in different academic positions for 22 years. He has been serving as the Director of the Institute of Resource Assessment. Professor Yanda is also the Regional Director of Pan African START Secretariat (PASS) since 2006. START is an international organization responsible for global change research. Pan African START Secretariat (PASS) coordinates all START activities within Africa. Prof. Yanda has worked extensively in natural resources, environment and climate related studies in the region as well as in Tanzania. He has published extensively in these fields, and he is one of the lead authors for Chapter 9.

Director, Institute of Resource Assessment, University of Dar es Salaam
P.O. BOX 35097, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel. +255-22-2410144. Email:


Mugabe has more than two decades experience in agricultural and environmental research and teaching. Special areas of experience include rangeland ecology and management, and land reform studies with respect to natural resource management. Mugambe has cross cutting experiences and interests in curriculum development for agriculture and natural resource management.

Deputy Director, Institute of Environmental studies, University of Zimbabwe
PO Box MP 167Mount Pleasant Harare
Tel. +263 4 302603, 332853. Email:


Kiome holds a PhD. His experience includes research work in the field of biological adversity, planning and coordination of natural resources programmes. He specializes on biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. He has carried out consultancy services in the areas of research and development, building capacity for young and dynamic scholars through project participation and supervision. He has authored over twenty scientific publications and is the lead author of Chapter 2, Concepts, Theories and Principles of NRM.

Research Scientist, National Museums of Kenya
P.O Box 1043- 00502, Karen, Kenya
Tel.+254 722822562


Yatich holds a masters degree in environmental planning and management from Kenyatta University. He is currently writing his PhD thesis on, “Climatic variability and its influences on Land-use, human health, balances and tradeoffs of ecosystem services in Nyando and Yala river basins”. He has conducted research in various environment related contexts including in environmental policy and transfer schemes for ecosystem services, commonly referred to as payments or rewards for ecosystem services (PES/RES) while at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). He has participated in several policy studies as well as advocacy through such innovative approaches as negotiation support systems (NSS), promoting of community of practice (CoP), knowledge to action (K2A), strategic environmental strategic assessment (SEA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA) in the Eastern and Western African countries, especially in the Sahelian region. Yatich is currently exploring the links between agriculture, water, health and the influences of climatic change and variability in the Lake Victoria basin.

Programme Manager for Environment, European Union, Delegation to the Republic of Kenya,
Telephone: 0714053653 Email:


Ochola holds a PhD in sustainable agriculture and rural development. His experience is in natural resource management research and project management. He has published, conducted research and been consulted widely for many local, institutional, national, regional and global processes. He has authored many books, book chapters and journal papers. He was a collaborating lead author in the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report of 2008 and the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) and Africa Environment Outlook (AEO) of UNEP. His latest international book writing project is the Planet in 2050 publication of 2010. He has lectured and supervised postgraduate students in agricultural extension, project management and research methods in various universities in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. He coordinates several projects and programmes at the RUFORUM Secretariat as well as regional capacity building for African universities on monitoring and evaluation.

Programme Manager – Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM)
Plot 151 Garden Hill, Main Campus, Makerere University
P.O. Box 7062, Kampala Uganda
Tel. +254 721986770, +256 414535939 Email:, blog


Wasonga holds a PhD in dryland ecologist with 12 years of experience in research and teaching at university level. His other experiences include consultancy work with notable international organizations such as IUCN, RELMA/Sida, IFAW, IIED-UK, CORDAID-Netherlands, MS-TCDC-Tanzania, FAO, WIPO, CARE International-Tanzania, AMREF, AU/IBAR and ILRI, among others. He has published in diverse areas including rangeland ecology, socio-economics and indigenous knowledge. He is registered by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) as an Environmental Impact Assessment Lead Expert.

Lecturer, University of Nairobi, Dept. of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology
PO Box: 29053-00625, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. +254 722258765 Email:


Kakuru holds a PhD in environment and natural resources management. He has 20 years experience in promoting Natural Resource Management (NRM), environment and sustainable development programmes and projects; having worked with government institutions, NGOs and international organizations. He has expertise and experiences of capturing NRM good practices using approaches to new conservation challenges like, Trans-boundary Natural Resource Management (TBNRM), climate change and mechanisms for Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES).

Lecturer, Makerere university, Faculty of Forestry and Nature Conservation
PO Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda
Tel. +256-782-189014; +256-701-837113. Email:


Ketema holds a PhD in forest socio-economics and policy. He has been given numerous responsibilities in Ethiopia, including the position of National Coordinator for the National Tree Seed Project, Center Director for the Forestry Research Center in Addis Ababa, and Director for the Forestry Research Portfolio of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR); providing leadership in policy, strategy, capacity development, resource mobilization, and research coordination nationally. He has lectured on forest policy at Wondo Genet College of Forestry in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. For seven years, he served as Scientific Programme Coordinator for the African Forestry Research Network (AFORNET) of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) where he played a crucial role in transforming AFORNET into a leading pan-African forest research network. His main research interests are in the areas of forest policy, conflict management, and the role of forests/trees in poverty reduction. He has published widely in peer reviewed scientific journals in these and other areas.

Programme Officer, African Forest Forum
PO Box: 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 20 7224000. Email:


Natural Resource Management is faced worldwide with an accelerating transformation. In Africa, advances in science and technology, shifting consumption patterns, continuing population growth, trade globalization, frictions in subsidy regimes, and the impacts of local and global environmental change are leading to new and serious risks to sustainable management of water systems, land, forests, rangelands and other natural resources. The complex and dynamic context of natural resource use in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, necessitates integrated and community based approaches which must be part of the training of future researchers, policy makers, academicians and natural resource scientists.

In our times, environmental and natural resource problems have increasingly come to the fore globally and the science of sustainable natural resource management as well as prudent policy making are vital for development of countries that are largely natural resource-based. Whether in discerning development options for national and regional level targets, the list of NRM issues has expanded beyond traditional concerns of biophysical processes in air, land and water to new frontiers of integrated natural resource management and mainstreaming of global climate change. Today’s concerns have begun to clash with the traditional extraction-oriented management regimes; hence; the need for highly skilled professionals that facilitate use of our natural resources and environment in more innovative ways. The paradigm of resource management that guided our approach to these matters throughout the twentieth century is clearly unsuitable for addressing environmental problems that have become global in nature. Consequently, the treatment of natural resource issues from a cross-disciplinary and comparative perspective is integral to finding acceptable solutions for the fundamental and often contentious environmental and natural resource management problems that bedevil Africa’s development.

Africans’ livelihoods are closely linked to their access to and responsible utilization of natural resources. Majority of the region’s population live in the rural areas and are among the most vulnerable and insecure in terms of poverty, health, food security, economic losses, and conflicts resulting from competitive access to natural resources, among other factors. Integrated and community based approaches are pivotal to scientifically addressing the emerging challenges to natural resources management including increased frequency of resource-use conflicts and extreme climatic events. A crisp presentation of factual basis to influence community action and policy decisions is needed. Scientists and professionals have a role to play in this effort while graduate training through relevant natural resource management research and critical thinking is both paramount and very urgent.

With this in mind, the intent and organization of this resource book on Managing Africa’s Natural Resources for Development is to provide an understanding of the various levels at which natural resource management issues occur and are being addressed scientifically, socially and politically. A central focus of the book, therefore, is its discussion of how Natural Resources Management (NRM) occurs through sound scientific basis, cases of good practices, and a series of student centered learning activities. In this way, the book provides a regional and integrated versus a solely state-centered and sectoral perspective. In addition, the authors have provided a detailed list of relevant reading material and companion web sources so that readers can remain appraised of current events and issues in natural resource management in Africa.

The production of the book has been made possible by the critical assistance of the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) while the process has been facilitated by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), Africa Office. The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has been a close partner in the book writing processes and most of the authors in the various chapters are from RUFORUM member Universities). With the support of IDRC, IIRR coordinated a multi-stakeholder process to piece together concepts, theories, principles and cases from the region on natural resource management. The varied perspectives of the scientists and experienced authors were captured through a facilitated and participatory writeshop process. The writeshop was conducted as an open, transparent, representative and legitimate process.

The book is the outcome of a series of face-to-face and virtual collaborative writing and in-depth discussions including peer review and joint editing. It presents the state-of-the-art perspectives in natural resource management of local relevance and also includes information regarding NRM in a holistic context. The book systematically navigates the tricky landscape of integrated natural resource management with special reference to Eastern and Southern Africa especially in the backdrop of prevailing challenges of global and local environmental changes. The wide experience of the authors and the rich references made to emerging challenges and opportunities, the presentation of different tools, principles, approaches, case studies and the results and syntheses of process discussions, add value to the book’s noble intent.

Managing Africa’s Natural Resources for Development aims at presenting a holistic and advanced content on NRM consistent with demand for integrated approaches to resource custodianship and scientific rigor. The resource book and the process of its production has paid special attention to the current situation, issues and potential opportunities to redirect the current NRM system to realize adaptive research and policy support. It addresses, in a holistic manner, issues critical to integrating community participation, project management, gender, climate change adaptation and policy formulation. The theories, principles, conceptual frameworks and case studies presented in the book have been carefully chosen and contextualized to guide the reader through the art and science of NRM.

I believe that the book’s presentations and treatment of NRM will be of interest to postgraduate students, policymakers, development practitioners, donors, academics and civil society, and will enrich our understanding of the various dimensions of natural resource management sustainability in our reading. I wish all readers a fruitful application of the concepts, principles, theories, frameworks and NRM science that have been ably presented by this ensemble of Africa’s scientists.

Professor Fanuel Tagwira
Africa University, Zimbabwe.


The challenges and prospects for “Managing Natural Resources for Development in Africa” are embedded in the mission and work of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Since its establishment in 1970s, IDRC has a long-standing reputation for supporting applied research on environment and natural resource management (NRM) in Africa and other developing countries. This is illustrated by the significant roles that IDRC played in the preparations of the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development and the 1992 United Nation Convention for Environment and Development (the Earth Summit) that developed Agenda 21. IDRC was also instrumental in the establishment of international research organizations such as the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi and provided consistent support to regional African networks such as the Africa Highlands Initiative, the Center for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and many more, to develop innovative ways for the implementation of sustainable development agenda.

A key thrust of IDRC investments in the past four decades has been the emphasis of interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder gender responsive participatory research approaches to natural resource management that recognize the competing demands on their use and conservation for social, economic and environmental benefits. In Africa and in other parts of the developing world, IDRC has supported applied research in the strategic areas of community-based natural resources management; rural development, land and water management; biodiversity, food systems, health and the environment, environmental economics and climate change adaptation. And we are pursuing our efforts.

Over the next five years, IDRC will continue to support research done by African scientists and their partners to confront the biggest challenges of the 21st century: food insecurity, climate change, water and energy scarcity, emerging infectious diseases and globalisation. Many of these challenges and opportunities require innovative integrated and multidisciplinary approaches. This book reflects these emerging challenges and demonstrates that African universities are prepared to contribute to meeting sustainable development goals of managing natural resources more effectively.

This book takes the field of NRM and its mainstreaming in African universities a major step forward. Its focus on contextualizing and adapting the theories, principles, frameworks, approaches and practices of NRM to African realities will contribute to enhancing the quality and relevance of university teaching and research standards; building stronger linkages between universities and training a new generation of African scholars, planners, policy- makers and development practitioners. I hope that many other universities and research programmes will be encouraged by this initiative, and inspired to become champions of transforming and innovating teaching, learning and research in African universities.

Jean Lebel
Director, Agriculture and Environment
International Development Research Centre, Canada.


This book is a co-publication of the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC), the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), and the University of Nairobi Press. The editors would sincerely like to thank the following organizations and individuals for their invaluable contributions in the completion of this volume. While most of the names are mentioned in the list of contributors and writeshop participants, we owe special gratitude to:

• IDRC for providing the funding, which covered the costs for planning, conducting the writeshop, editing and printing of the book among others. It would not have been possible to produce a book of this volume without their generous support.

• The planning team, who conceptualized the content of the book, identified the organizations with relevant content, cases and authors and co-authors with relevant experience in the various topics. The quality of the initial planning had set the stage for the subsequent steps that proved successful.

• The steering committee members, who further helped shape the content of each chapter, identified new authors and reviewers. The steering committee guided the process and content systematically, and ensured quality. We are grateful for their guidance in the entire process.

• Authors and co-authors who tirelessly generated initial texts for each chapter and revised several times until the manuscripts were technically sound and had clear learning objectives and outcomes with practical cases relevant to eastern and southern Africa context. Writing together is difficult, but this group disproved this and we are proud that African professionals can unite to write.

• The peer reviewers who provided critical feedback at various stages of the manuscript have helped to polish the various chapters of the book. The initial draft was peer reviewed by selected university lecturers and PhD students who were assigned different chapters. We also thank the independent peer reviewer from the University of Nairobi Press who reviewed the entire manuscript and provided insightful comments to finalize the book. Having been reviewed by different professionals in the various subjects, and by students who represent the user community, the book has undergone through a sophisticated scrutiny of academic rigor. We thank each of the reviewers for their professional contribution.

• IDRC colleagues from the Rural Poverty and Environment programme (now Agriculture and Food Security) for their encouragement and enthusiasm in the initial discussions about disseminating research outputs. Our gratitude also go to the several research partners whose project results and practical field experience have enriched the case studies, conceptual frameworks, study boxes and other learning materials throughout this book.

• IIRR staff who served as a secretariat and managed the entire process from inception to the completion of the project. This, among other, included organizing logistics, gathering relevant documents, validating needs for NRM resources book, conducting background research, setting agenda for various meetings, contracting different services, facilitating the planning workshops and writeshop. Coordination of such a complex project that involves several players is an enormous task. We thank each of the staff for their contribution towards the success of the project.

• The RUFORUM Secretariat for providing some cases for inclusion in selected chapters and allowing staff members to participate variously in the writeshop, review and editing processes of the book. As a network, RUFORUM offered a perfect platform from which authors and reviewers including students on regional programs were drawn and will be instrumental in the distribution and collation of feedback as the book gets used by postgraduate students and other NRM practitioners in the region.

• The various institutions that cooperated by sharing information, materials or allowed faculty to take part in the various activities. We would like to mention a few who we have made specially contributions. These include: the University of Nairobi, Egerton University, Kenyatta University, the University of Zimbabwe, the University of Malawi, Makerere University and the University of Dar es Salam, the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and Africa Forest Forum.

• The writeshop participants who tirelessly worked day and night for 9 days writing, rewriting, editing and revising the various manuscripts and providing critical review across chapters and cases. It was during the writeshop that fundamental agreements were reached about the book. We are thankful for each of the participants that comprised of authors and coauthors, facilitators, graduate students, editors and logistic staff for their dedication and commitment during the long writeshop period.

• The two artists who redesigned most of the illustrations, diagrams, tables and charts in the book and the design of the cover page

• The editorial, layout and design team of the University of Nairobi Press for their professional work in finalizing the book in the shortest possible time. Finally, we thank our respective families for their understanding and support throughout the process of producing this book.

The Editors

Acronyms and Abbreviations


Asian Development Bank


Adaptive Decision-Making Process


Alternative Dispute Resolution


Agro Ecological Zones


Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use


Adaptive Management


Arctic Oscillation


Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization


Common Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources


Centre for Applied Social Sciences


Cost Benefit Analysis


Conservation on Biological Diversity


Community Based Enterprises


Community Based Natural Resource Management


Community Based Organization


Cost Benefit Ratio


Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women

CFC11 and CFC12

Chlorofluorocarbon 11 and 12


Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research


Centre for International Forestry Research


International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre




Critical Path Method


Common Property Resource (Regime)


Compensation and Rewards for Environmental Services


Danish International Development Agency


District Environmental Action Planning


Department for International Development


Development Planning Unit


European Bank for Reconstruction and Development


Economic Impact of Environmental Degradation in Southern Africa


Environmental Impact Assessment


European Investment Bank


Eastern and Southern Africa


Food and Agriculture Organization


Farmer Participatory Research


Farming Systems Research


Gender and Development


Gender Analysis Matrix


Gross National Product


Global Environmental Change


Gender, Environment and Development


Global Environment Facility


Greenhouse Gases


Gender In Development


Geographic Information Systems


Global Invasive Species Programme


Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Conservation Area


Global Positioning System


Hifadhi Ardhi Shinyanga


International Agricultural Research Centre


Integrated Conservation and Development Projects


International Crops Research Institute for the Semiarid and Arid Tropics


International Commission for Science


Institutional Development Fund


International Development Research Centre


International Energy Agency


International Institute for Environment and Development


International Institute of Rural Construction


International Institute for Sustainable Development


International Institute of Tropical Agriculture


Indigenous Knowledge


Indigenous Knowledge Systems


International Livestock Research Institute


Integrated Natural Resource Management


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Integrated Pest Management


Intellectual Property Rights


Internal Rate of Return


Integrated Soil Fertility Management


Indigenous Technical Knowledge


International Union for the Conservation of Nature


Integrated Water Resources Management


Kenya Forest Service


Knowledge Management


Logical Framework Approach


Local Knowledge and Management Systems


Local Technical Knowledge


Land Use Management Plans


Monitoring and Evaluation


Millennium Ecosystem Assessment


Multilateral Development Banks


Millennium Development Goals


Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement


Multilevel Analytical Framework


Northern Annular Mode


North Atlantic Oscillation


National Agricultural Research Systems


Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resources Management Support Organization


New Partnership for Africa’s Development


New Rice for Africa


Non-Governmental Organization


New Institutional Economic Theory


Net Present Value


Natural Resource Management


Overseas Development Institute


Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development


Outcome Mapping


Protected Area


Process-Based Management


Pacific Decadal Oscillation


Poverty Eradication Action Plan


Project Evaluation and Review Technique


Payment for Ecosystem Services


Participatory Forest Management


Practical Gender Needs


Participatory Learning and Action Research


Performance Management


Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation


Pacific North American Pattern


People Oriented Planning


Polluter Pays Principle


Participatory Rural Appraisal


Private Voluntary Organizations


Research and Development


Rural and Agricultural Incomes with a Sustainable Environment


Result Based Management


Rural District Council


Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation


Southern Annular Mode


Socio-Ecological Systems


Strategic Gender Needs


Social Impact Assessment


Sustainable Livelihood


Special Report on Environmental Scenarios


Sub-Saharan Africa


Soil and Water Conservation


Traditional Authority


Technical Advisory Committee


Traditional Knowledge


Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front


United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification


Uganda National Council for Science and Technology


United Nations Development Programme


United Nations Economic Community for Africa


United Nations Environmental Programme


United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization


United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change


United Nations Conference on Environment and Development


United Nations International Children Fund


United Nations University


United States Agency for International Development


Village Headperson


Women And Development


Women, Environment and Development


Women In Development


Wildlife Management Areas


World Meteorological Organization


World Resources Institute


P. C. Sanginga, I. Bekalo and W. O. Ochola

Why this Book on Managing Natural Resources for Development in Africa?

The complex and dynamic interlinkages between Natural Resources Management (NRM) and development have long been recognized by national and international research and development organizations and have generated a voluminous literature. However, despite this abundance of publications, research and development projects and policies in NRM in Africa, much of what is available in the form of university textbooks, practical learning manuals and reference materials in NRM, is still based on experiences from outside Africa. Thus, it is quite common to find learning materials that emphasize exotic animals or crops management systems that are inappropriate or have limited relevance to the African context and are unable to draw examples or case studies from the local environment. In addition, the curricula and learning materials in NRM are generally disciplinary and sectoral, far removed from the context, and inadequate for effective management of natural resources. It is not surprising therefore, that there is a huge gap between what is being taught in NRM and the generally observed practices especially by small-scale resource users, practitioners and policy makers. There is also clear disconnect between research, practice and policy on matters of natural resource management.

Many governments in Africa have expressed the urgent need to revitalize their university and tertiary education in agriculture and NRM as the number of African universities teaching agricultural and NRM sciences have grown tremendously over the last two decades. An increasing number of these universities now have dedicated postgraduate programmes on NRM, and all offer courses or course units on NRM. There are, however, apparent weakness in these programmes with regard to curricula, curricula delivery, research agenda setting, and staff capacity for teaching NRM. One of the critical areas of concern is the improvement of learning resources at graduate and postgraduate levels by incorporating materials and resources generated from interdisciplinary research, projects and local knowledge. It is evident that improving the learning systems in terms of content relevance and quality of delivery will influence many other areas of natural resource management research, practice and policy. New generations of African university graduates need better capacity to absorb, adapt and develop scientific and technical knowledge, to ensure research meets the needs and problems of the African continent.

In recognizing the weaknesses of past and current education systems, the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment (MEA), the African Environment Outlook (AEO) and the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) argue that narrow disciplinary treatment of natural resources is sub-optimal in dealing with immense need for science-based and integrated, yet community-based technology development, dissemination, utilization and policy support.

This book originated from the awareness and concerns that the training of future researchers, academicians, policy makers, development workers and other professionals with direct and indirect influence on the natural resource users, has hitherto remained highly technical and insensitive to the complex and dynamic nature of natural resource management. The field of NRM and environmental sciences has expanded beyond the initial focus on conservation biology and ecology to embrace a multi-disciplinary orientation, systems thinking and sustainable development and livelihood approaches. This requires training of a new generation of NRM graduates who are able to deal with the complexity of natural resource systems. Previous graduates have generally lacked ability to influence community-based management regimes, projects and policy formulation processes in favour of sustainable NRM. This becomes particularly evident in the wake of crosscutting issues such as gender, governance, globalisation and emerging global challenges including climate change.

Grounded in research and teaching carried out by a variety of African scholars, academicians and experts working on different aspects of NRM in Africa, this book seeks to make some contribution to the teaching and learning about NRM and development in African universities. The book encourages a new way of thinking, teaching and learning that can ultimately improve current knowledge and practice of NRM in the quest of more sustainable and resilient socio-ecological systems. Instead of the common paradigm of despair about the degradation of natural resources, environmental crisis and poverty, the book seeks to demonstrate that more holistic and integrated approaches have the potential to integrate environmental concerns with improved livelihoods.

Managing Natural Resources for Development in Africa represents a collective endeavour to reframe, filter and contextualize some of the main concepts, theories and practices of NRM in the context of Eastern and Southern Africa. It aims to synthesize current knowledge, discuss approaches and perspectives to equip African graduates with the needed knowledge, skills and attitudes to respond to and shape changes in social-ecological systems in order to sustain the supply and availability of ecosystem services by society. The book links recent advances in the theories, concepts and principles of NRM with practical and topical exposition of community-based NRM, gender, climate change, project and programme management, policy and governance, and trans-disciplinary research in NRM.

Users and Uses of the Book

This book is written primarily as a resource book for graduate and postgraduate students and their lecturers, academics and researchers specialising in NRM. It can be used by undergraduate students for their advanced courses in NRM. Government planners, extension and local government staff, development professionals, facilitators and practitioners in development agencies and civil society organizations concerned with NRM and development will find many aspects of this book valuable resource in developing policies, designing and implementing NRM projects and programmes.

The chapters follow a sequence designed to help the reader, teacher and learner achieve a progressive mastery of the different concepts, theories and issues in the field of NRM. Care has, however, been taken to ensure that the book can be used flexibly and can easily adapt to the needs of particular courses, course units, modules, users and uses. Chapters can be selected and studied in any order, without much loss. Each chapter has been written as a fairly autonomous unit, with cross referencing to other chapters at relevant points. Each chapter has been structured to make the reading and learning as interesting and stimulating, yet systematic and academic, as possible.

The book is not about natural resources per se but about their management. It takes a holistic approach rather than a sectoral focus on specific natural resources – water, land, forest, wildlife, biodiversity, atmosphere, minerals. It takes a development perspective for natural resource management – a perspective based on a more holistic and integrated view of natural resources management for ecological integrity and human well-being in a continent that is experiencing rapid change and uncertainty. There is no abstract treatment of concepts and theories. Rather, they are debated and illustrated by means of concrete examples and case studies from NRM projects and experiences in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region. Learning activities and references for further reading are meant to stimulate discussion and make the teaching and learning as interactive and lively as possible, and to make this book particularly suitable for use in all courses of environment and natural resource management. Authors have tried to keep the writing style simple and direct, while adhering to the rigour of academic and scientific writing. All contributions have been peer reviewed and fully edited.

How this Book was Produced: The Writeshop Process

This book was initiated by a nucleus of African university lecturers and professionals in NRM, motivated by the desire to refocus and improve the quality, relevance and holistic aspects of learning and teaching materials in NRM based on African knowledge and experiences. The book was produced by a multi-disciplinary team composed of university lecturers from the University of Nairobi, Egerton University, Kenyatta University, University of Zimbabwe, University of Malawi, Makerere University and University of Dar es Salam. In addition, selected NRM experts from regional and international research organizations including the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Africa Forest Forum, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) actively contributed in the development and production of the book.

The Writeshop Process

The book was produced through a writeshop. A writeshop is an intensive participatory workshop to write and learn to produce information materials and documentation about a particular topic. The writeshop process was pioneered by the IIRR to produce manuals, field guides, toolkits, training modules, and to simplify scientific and technical materials for development professionals and extension workers, although the manuals can also be used for teaching.

The writeshop process offers numerous advantages: A major advantage derives from the participation and contribution of a diverse range of experts and combining the skills of professional facilitators, editors, writers, illustrators and support staff in one forum. Moreover, when the process of content generation, drafting, editing, illustration, revision and feedback is conducted under the same roof, it provides a great opportunity for team work and mutual learning. The repeated presentations, critiquing and revision of drafts allow for papers to be reviewed and revised substantially and new topics to be developed during the writeshop; also topics to be combined, dropped or split into parts.

This critical and iterative feedback encourages interdisciplinary approaches and multiple perspectives on NRM. It is more useful than the external review process as it allows for in depth interactive and iterative peer review, peer learning and mentoring that enhances the quality and relevance of the product and creates a sense of collective ownership of the product. The writeshop also allows for vibrant exchange of ideas and focused development of themes – both during the writeshop and in the preparatory phase. Finally, by bringing together such a rich diversity of personalities, skills, views and experiences, the writeshop has proven to be ideal in forming enduring professional and personal relationships and building social and human capital necessary for networking.

The development of the book was a unique collective action process that adapted IIRR’s writeshop model to the specific needs of producing a resource book for graduate students and university lecturers. This involved an intensive and rigorous process of planning, independent peer reviews, collective peer reviews, revisions and writings. Partnership with the RUFORUM, a consortium of 25 universities in Eastern, Southern and Central Africa, was an important step forward to promote collaboration, networking, capacity building in the production of academic publications with local content to facilitate regional postgraduate training in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. Another important partner in this process was IDRC whose “Grant Plus” approach goes beyond making financial contributions to support the process. IDRC placed a great emphasis at creating opportunities, connecting and engaging with researchers and university lecturers from complementary disciplines, and making intellectual contributions in a spirit of peer learning to confront the challenges of learning and teaching NRM in 21st century African universities. The following flow chart summarizes the adaptation process that was introduced to produce this resource guide for postgraduate students.


1. The first step was a needs assessment exercise to establish the demand and relevance for a graduate resource book in NRM. Scoping study was undertaken with lecturers and graduate students of selected universities offering NRM postgraduate programmes. Interviews were conducted with heads of departments, university lecturers, researchers and postgraduate students. A content analysis of the different programmes, modules and course units on NRM was also done. The results were presented to a steering committee and to a group of university lecturers and NRM researchers and practitioners who attended the planning workshop. The results of the needs assessment and scoping study clearly established a significant gap in NRM teaching and learning, and revealed a considerable interest and commitment to develop appropriate teaching and learning materials.

2. The second step involved a two-day planning workshop and several steering committee meetings and iterations with the authors and contributors and reviewers. During the planning workshop, participants were introduced to the writeshop process and were challenged to work as a team to jointly develop an outline and a detailed table of content for the text books relevant to African universities. A preliminary list of potential authors and contributors was also identified for the different chapters and case studies. A steering committee was selected to guide the process and ensure quality of the work.

3. In the third step, the contributing authors virtually developed their manuscripts which were peer reviewed by selected independent university lecturers, researchers and graduate students with relevant expertise in NRM. Each chapter was reviewed by two independent NRM experts from the biophysical and social sciences. Their comments were incorporated by the authors to revise their drafts prior to the workshop.

4. The fourth step was an intensive 8 day participatory writeshop process (April 22-29, 2010) in Nairobi, Kenya involving 25 authors, resource persons, facilitators, editors, university students and logistics staff. During the writeshop, the content editor presented general guideline for reviewing each chapter. Workshop participants worked in small, focused groups of four people from different disciplines, strengths and interests to review, critique each chapter and provide feedback to the lead author and coauthors. Reviewers’ feedback for each chapter was presented in plenary to allow all participants to provide additional comments and link the different chapters in a logical flow. The lead authors and co-authors worked together, incorporated comments, and consulted other participants for additional materials and case studies in order to produce a second draft. The second draft was presented in plenary focusing further constructive feedback on the content, outline, illustrations, focus, expected outcomes, learning activities and summary. The authors used this collective feedback and critiquing to produce a third draft. At the end of the writeshop, the authors produced a manuscript for each chapter that has benefited from independent peer review, revisions, collective review and contributions, and further revisions by the authors,

5. The fifth step was a collective editing of the different chapters and the entire book by the editorial team assisted by graphic artists. The team of four reviewed each chapter, cross referenced materials and produced the 4th edition. This edition was sent to original authors and contributors of each chapter where necessary, who had an opportunity to respond to queries by the editorial team and provide final inputs to their chapters before the book was sent for copy editing by professional language editors, and finally, for printing.

6. The sixth and last step concerned the publication, printing and distribution process of the book. The book was jointly co-published by IDRC, IIRR and RUFORUM and is available for free download on IDRC website, on CD ROMs and on hard copies. The book was further launched at the African Ministerial Meeting on High Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management and distributed to major universities with NRM programmes.

Content of the Book

The nine chapters contained in this book provide a comprehensive coverage of the major areas and issues of NRM for development.

Chapter One: Natural Resource Management and Development Nexus in Africa sets the stage for a holistic treatment of NRM and presents the book’s underlying objective of managing natural resources for development. It introduces the concepts of sustainable development, sustainable livelihoods and natural resource management. It then presents an overview of the complexity of NRM and development linkages, highlighting the current state, challenges, opportunities and future outlook of NRM and development in Africa.

Chapter Two: Concepts, Theories and Principles of NRM introduces the key concepts, theories and principles for understanding the science about the fundamental interactions and processes in social-ecological systems-systems in which people interact with their physical and biological environment. The chapter introduces the concept of ecosystems and discusses functions, structures and dynamics of ecosystems as they relate to the management of natural resources. It introduces practical concepts such as resilience, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Framework, Compensation and Rewards for Ecosystem Services, and provides the conceptual basis for subsequent chapters.

Chapter Three: Integrated Natural Resources Management, presents holistic perspectives in Integrated Natural Resources Management (INRM) systems and explores the trends, drivers and tools for natural resources management particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. It provides an operational framework and tools for operationalizing INRM. Integrating multiple perspectives, multiple scales of analysis, inter-action and response, and multiple disciplines and involving multiple stakeholders with often contrasting objectives and activities.

Chapter Four: Community-Based Natural Resource Management, presents the theoretical basis, the conceptual frameworks and the underlying principles of Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). The principles of the new institutional economics, common pool resources and collective action theories, and their applications in collaborative, adaptive management, are discussed. The chapter addresses some practical issues in designing and implementing CBNRM projects. These include strategies and mechanisms for conflict management and use of indigenous technical knowledge.

Chapter Five: Gender and Natural Resources Management, underlines the need for a gender-sensitive approach to NRM. It explores the relationships between gender and NRM in different sectors (land, water, biodiversity, forests, fisheries). The chapter discusses how gender can be mainstreamed in CBNRM, climate change, project management, policies and NRM research. It then gives an overview of the different frameworks for gender analysis in NRM. The chapter takes a gender, environment and development approach that is not only concerned with empowering women, but with the social constructions of gender and the roles, responsibilities, rights and expectations of both women and men in NRM and development.

Chapter Six: NRM in the Context of Climate Change synthesizes the science and state of knowledge on climate change, giving historical accounts of climate change and exploring future projects and climate change scenarios, and their impacts on the management of natural resources in Africa. The chapter discusses different options for community adaptation to climate change vulnerabilities. It explores NRM-based mitigation options with focus to mechanisms such as Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), carbon trade, biofuel production, biodiversity and Payment of Ecosystem Services (PES). It discusses climate change governance and the need for re-orientation of national level institutions to effectively bridge local and global level mechanisms for adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

Chapter Seven: NRM Project Planning and Management, reviews the concepts, principles and application of project planning and management in natural resources development. The chapter presents different frameworks and approaches for project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of NRM programmes and projects. It provides tools to guide the formulation of projects proposals and for managing NRM projects, including risk management and stakeholder engagement. The chapter reinforces the notion that designing, managing and evaluating NRM projects requires a continuous reflective adaptive learning and adaptive management approach. Innovative approaches and tools for stakeholder engagement in monitoring and evaluation such as result-based management frameworks, outcome mapping, participatory monitoring and evaluation are introduced in the chapter.

Chapter Eight: Policy and Governance in NRM, helps to understand the complexity of policy processes in NRM. It further describes the different policy instruments and governance institutions for formulating and implementing NRM policies at different levels. The chapter delves into the processes and tools of participatory policy development and decentralized governance of natural resources, and the processes and frameworks for formulation of local policies. It concludes with a section on linking NRM research to policy and presents some guiding principles for influencing policy change in NRM.

Chapter Nine: Research in NRM, takes an interdisciplinary perspective for designing and conducting applied research for NRM. The chapter reviews the historical perspectives and the different research approaches in NRM. It takes the reader through the entire process of research planning and management. The role of community participation in research and the approaches for eliciting and enhancing active stakeholder participation in the research process are further discussed. The chapter discusses approaches to data and knowledge management and for designing and implementing effective communication strategies to influence policy and practice.

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Natural Resource Management and Development Nexus in Africa

P.C. Sanginga, W. O. Ochola and I. Bekalo


Poverty eradication, sustainable economic growth and environmental sustainability are the key pillars of development plans in most African countries. There is consensus that natural resources, especially those of land, soil, water, forest, plant and animal diversity, vegetation, renewable energy sources, climate change and ecosystems services are fundamental for improving livelihoods and achieving sustainable development in Africa. This is especially so if emerging market opportunities for adding value to natural resource goods and services can be accessible to the poor. However, how best to manage Africa’s natural resources to improve livelihoods, reduce poverty and advance economic growth while maintaining and enhancing the sustainability and resilience of the natural resource base remains an elusive goal and daunting challenge for research, teaching, development practice, community actions and policy. Understanding and tackling this complex challenge demands creative, integrative and holistic approaches by multiple stakeholders, to bring multiple and complementary perspectives, knowledge and skills to facilitate a socially equitable, economically efficient and environmentally sound development.

This chapter aims to set the stage for a holistic treatment of NRM. It presents the book’s conceptual roadmap. In the book, the terms natural resources and environment are used interchangeably. The term environment generally refers to a natural resource base that provides sources and performs sink functions (Bucknall, 2000). The chapter starts with an overview of the different perspectives on the linkages between NRM, poverty and development. The chapter introduces the concepts of sustainable development and sustainable livelihoods as a way of thinking about the objectives, scope and priorities for NRM to serve development purposes. The second part examines the state of NRM and development in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). Drawing from insights embedded in the book’s nine chapters, the concluding part summarises some options for managing natural resources for development. The learning activities at the end of the chapter are meant to engage readers and students and encourage them to further explore critical issues and contextualize them in the challenges and opportunities of their specific countries.

Specifically, this first chapter aims to:

• Introduce the concept of sustainable development and sustainable livelihoods and its relationship to NRM, and different approaches and paradigms on the linkages between NRM and development.

• Examine the state of natural resources, their challenges, opportunities and prospects for sustainable development in Africa.

• Demonstrate how the management of natural resources contribute to livelihoods of people, communities and nations.

• Present some options for action to enhance the management of natural resources for the triple goals of livelihood improvement, economic growth and environmental sustainability.

After reading this chapter, readers should be able to understand and improve their knowledge in order to address the complex linkages between NRM and development, and address the goals of sustainable development. Readers will be aware of the multiple challenges and opportunities and prospects for managing natural resources for livelihood improvement and poverty reduction in Africa.

NRM, Poverty and Development Linkages

Natural resource management is defined here as a scientific and technical principle that forms a basis for sustainable management (conservation and use) and governance of natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants and animals, with a particular focus on how management affects the quality of life for both present and future generations. It is widely recognized that natural resources contribute significantly to development in different ways: as an economic activity and source of growth; as a livelihood, by providing jobs for people; and as a provider of environmental services that can have both good and bad outcomes (NEPAD, 2003; Comim et al., 2009; Khan, 2008; IAASTD, 2009; Chowdhury and Ahmed, 2010). Chapter two discusses the linkages between ecosystem services and human well-being: the bundle of positive benefits that people obtain from natural resources.

NRM and the Millennium Development Goals

In 2000, the United Nations (UN) adopted the eight (8) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as the broad comprehensive and specific development goals the UN set for the world to achieve by 2015 (Box 1.1). They provide a framework for the entire international community to work together towards a common end – making sure that human development reaches everyone, everywhere. The MDGs are both global and local, customised by each country to suit their specific development needs. There is a specific MDG focusing on environmental sustainability (MDG7) that advocates for the integration of the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes to reverse the loss of environmental resources. MDG 7 has direct links and is critical for the attainment of all other MDGs. Sustainable management of natural resources contributes to poverty alleviation, helps reduce diseases and child mortality, improves maternal health, and can contribute to gender equality and universal education. Non-sustainable use of natural resources, including land, water, forests and fisheries, can threaten individual livelihoods as well as local, national and international economies. The environment can play a significant role in contributing to development and human well-being. It can also increase human vulnerability, causing human migration, insecurity and other health effects. Environmental scarcity can foster cooperation, but can also contribute to tensions or conflicts (UNEP, 2007).

Box 1.1: Millennium Development Goals

There is evidence that NRM influences health, maternal health, child mortality, malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. It is estimated that at least 30% of the 18 million people who die annually, most of them women and children, are due to poverty-related causes (IDRC, 2010). In sub-Saharan Africa, about 35% of the total burden of disease is caused by natural resource degradation. Degradation of natural resources fosters conditions for disease outbreak and transmission. Deterioration of fresh water resources decreases water quality. This leads to increase in water-borne diseases, a significant cause of child mortality. Land degradation, soil erosion, droughts and floods directly contribute to food shortage and malnutrition, and all the direct and indirect effects on child mortality, maternal health, and other diseases such as malaria, decrease of immunity that exposes people to a host of infectious diseases.

A number of studies conducted in Eastern and Southern Africa, have unveiled the complex, multifactoral and bidirectional pathways and negative feedback loops between HIV/AIDS and NRM (for a review see Bolton and Talman 2010). Bolton and Talman having reviewed studies conducted in 10 African countries including Uganda, have reported that the fisher folk are both highly dependent on natural resources (fisheries) for their livelihoods and are highly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, with rates ranging from 4 to 14 times more than the general population. In Kenya and Uganda, fisher folk had 5 times higher rates of HIV/AIDS than truck drivers and sex workers, two high-risk groups. While degradation of natural resources enhance vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS in turn increase reliance on natural resources to meet increasing household needs that arise from having to cope with the effects of HIV/AIDS, as HIV/AIDS leads to loss of human capital, depleted financial and physical capital, increased vulnerability of community-based NRM institutions, and affects funding of NRM initiatives to HIV/AIDS related costs.

One of the challenges in Africa’s development is related to the rapid rate of degradation of natural resources due to a complex combination of factors. Such degradation reduces the natural resources both quantitatively and qualitatively thereby compromising development activities based on these resources. The MA (2005), for instance, highlighted the linkages between climate change and biodiversity loss as depicted in Figure 1.1.


Figure 1.1: The Linkages Between Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss

Source: MA (2005) (Prudent NRM must address the relationships if Africa’s biodiversity is to be conserved)

For example, declining biodiversity may have an impact on the functioning and resilience of ecosystems. Loss of biodiversity will decrease the species diversity of the plant and soil organisms, reduce structural diversity of vegetation, which in turn will cause loss of nutrients and affect soil structure. This could lead to reduced nutrient cycling, cause land degradation and soil erosion. Land degradation and soil erosion are some of the key factors that contribute to productivity decline and food insecurity. Soil erosion also reduces carbon sequestration above and below ground and increase CO2 emissions, therefore accelerating climate change. Climate change could lead to increased costs caused by flood damage, mudslides, drought, fire and pests. In addition, loss of services such as water provision, nutrient cycling and pollination may impact on human welfare. Loss of ecosystem function and resilience is of particular concern in the light of predicted global warming and the anticipated, but largely unknown, impact this will have on climate, local weather conditions, sea level and human health.

Biological diversity can be thought of as an insurance cover. Given the possibly significant impact environmental degradation has on human welfare and the economy, it would be rational to exercise caution when development decisions are made which may have an impact on biodiversity. The impacts of climate change are now inevitable and are expected to affect people in African countries the most. Climate change will particularly affect ecosystems, food and fibre supply, coastal settlements, health, and water supply. Table 1.1 shows the numbers of people affected by various types of natural disaster in the Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (ESA) region in the past ten years. Each year, an average of more than 26.8 million people are affected by natural disaster in the region, and some 10.8 million people are directly affected by political instability and conflict. Drought has by far the greatest impact, followed by flood.

To fight poverty, promote security and preserve the ecosystems that poor people rely on for their livelihoods, governments must place pro-poor economic growth and environmental sustainability at the heart of our economic policies, planning systems and institutions (UNEP, 2009). Drawing upon recent analytical work prepared inside and outside it, the World Bank (2007) identifies key lessons concerning linkages between poverty and the environment. With a focus on the contribution of environmental resources to household welfare, the analysis demonstrates how specific reforms and interventions can impact on the health and livelihoods of the poor people.

There is no shortage of recommendations and strategies for improving the management of natural resources in Africa. Agenda 21 ( offers a blueprint for action to ensure environmentally conservative and sustainable development throughout the twenty-first century. Africa is experiencing multiple crises (namely: food crises, energy crisis, financial crisis and climate change crises which combine with deepening poverty, rapid population growth and weak governance) that unduly create unprecedented pressures on natural resources and people’s livelihoods. Many of the solutions to the crises of NRM in Africa lie outside the NRM realm and are beyond communities, countries or regions and require global commitment and collective action.

Table 1.1: Numbers of People Affected by Natural Disasters in Eastern and Southern Africa, 1998-2007








Wind Storm




























































































Source: The International Disaster Database (EM-DAT):

The Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI) spearheaded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) typifies the need to mainstream environmental management in poverty reductions strategies (Box 1.2).

Box 1.2: Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Initiative in Policy and Projects

A specific case of utilization of natural resources for sustainable poverty alleviation is in the promotion of access to emerging markets for goods and services presented by Africa’s natural assets as described in the Case 1.1 of ecosystems services in Eastern Africa.

Approaches to NRM and Development Linkages

The linkages between environmental change and the wellbeing of populations who depend on natural resources have given rise to some major schools of thought in the literature. These include:

• The “Downward Spiral’ approach

• The entitlements approach

• The sustainable development approach

• The sustainable livelihoods approach

• The resilience approach

Case study 1.1: Emerging Markets for Ecosystems Services in East Africa

The Orthodox View or “Downward Spiral” of NRM and Poverty

The conventional literature on NRM-development linkages often presents a rather deterministic view of the relationship between poverty and natural resources. This view dominated the UNCED that stated that poverty is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems. This dominant view posits that there is a vicious downwards spiral: poor people are forced to overuse environmental resources to survive from day to day, and the degradation of natural resources further impoverishes them, making their survival ever more difficult and uncertain. The rapid degradation of natural resources pushes the poor further down in the spiral, making them more vulnerable and in abject poverty. This conventional wisdom promotes the view that natural resources are being rapidly degraded in Africa because of poverty, and that the poor are responsible for the degradation of natural resources. In the absence of any other options, the poor are bound to exploit the natural resources for their livelihood needs. This is illustrated in the poverty-environment vicious cycle in Figure 1.2.

In most African countries, some of the key environmental issues are: declining soil productivity, soil erosion, rangeland degradation, bush encroachment, salinization, desertification, agrochemical pollution of water, siltation, water supply and shortages, loss of habitats and biodiversity and overexploited forests (UNECA, 2002). These issues are agriculturally related and thus can be linked to challenges in the attainment of the MDG 1 of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. Environmental degradation also threatens all aspects of human wellbeing including health. In most African countries, persistent poverty means that growing populations depend on mostly, inadequate local natural resources for survival. In their studies of land management in Uganda, Nkonya et al., (2004) found strong linkages between poverty and land management as investments in land management was associated with household income levels and productivity.


Figure 1.2: The Poverty-Environment Vicious Cycle

Source: Chowdhury and Ahmed, 2010

However, other studies have shown that the assumption of systematic degradation of natural resources by the poor does not always hold (Scherr, 2000; Cavendish, 2000; Comim, 2009; Bucknall et al., 2000; Forsyth et al., 1998; Broad, 2002). In an empirical study in Zimbabwe, Cavendish (2000) found that rich households, were more responsible for environmental degradation. Similarly, studies elsewhere (Chowdhury et al., 2010; Khan, 2008) have concluded that poverty is not the primary cause of deforestation and poor people are not the primary agent for such degradation. In their book “More People, Less Erosion” Tiffen et al., (2000) demonstrate an example of environmental recovery in Kenya where population growth and agricultural intensification have been accompanied by improved rather than deteriorating soil and water resources. Other examples that support this environmental recovery have been documented in Sahelian countries of Senegal, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Niger (Mortimore, 2010). In addition, there has been a rising trend in the social sciences and economic literature which disputes the conventional theory and argues that simple generalizations of this multidimensional problem are erroneous and that a more complex set of variables are in play (Comim, 2009; Leach and Mearns, 1995). Therefore, the widespread view that poverty leads to environmental degradation is not clearly supported by evidence. What is more strongly supported by evidence is the fact that environmental degradation hurts the poor more.

More understanding on how poor people depend on, interact with and use their environment in rural and urban areas is needed. These studies point to demographic, cultural, and institutional factors as important variables in the poverty-environmental degradation nexus. Most studies agree that the links point to the dynamic complexity, context-specificity and resource specificity of the linkages between NRM and poverty. Understanding these links is a rather complex task and requires an integrated, interdisciplinary, multi-sectorial and multi-institutional and multi-stakeholder perspective.

The “Environmental Entitlements” Approach

From her seminal work (Ostrom, 1990) and her subsequent work (Ostrom, 2005, Agrawal et al., 2001; Dietz et al., 2003;) that was awarded the 2009 Noble Prize in Economic Sciences, Elinor Ostrom challenged this conventional wisdom and orthodox view of NRM-Poverty linkages. Her work and others challenged Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” and demonstrated how humans interact with ecosystems to maintain long-term sustainable resource yields (Figure 1.3). This body of work has considered how societies have developed diverse institutional arrangements for managing natural resources and avoiding ecosystem collapse. It emphasizes the multifaceted nature of human–ecosystem interaction. Several chapters of this book explore different mechanisms that communities, programmes and policies have put in place to regulate access and use of NRM for sustainable development.

There is now widespread consensus within NRM literature that ‘sustainable development’ should be based on local-level solutions derived from community initiatives. This new paradigm, also called ‘environmental entitlements’ (Bucknall et al., 2000; Forsyth et al., 1998) emphasize the capacity of natural resources accessible to the poor to produce streams of products and environmental services essential for livelihood. It builds a conceptual framework highlighting the central role of institutions – regularized patterns of behaviour between individuals and groups in society – in mediating environment-society relationships. The notion of ‘environmental entitlements’ encapsulates this shift in perspective, and provides analytical tools to specify the benefits that people gain from their environment which contribute to their well-being. The processes by which people gain environmental endowments and entitlements are, in turn, shaped by diverse institutions, both formal and informal. This framework is grounded in an extended form of entitlements analysis used to explore the ways differently positioned social actors command environmental goods and services that are instrumental to their wellbeing (Leach et al., 2009).


Figure 1.3: The Environmental Entitlements Framework

Source: Forsyth et al., 1998

Several chapters in this book argue that management of natural resources should include the full participation of local residents and cooperation with government to ensure socio-environmentally sustainable resource management.

The concept of environmental entitlements refers to the alternative sets of benefits derived from environmental goods and services over which people have legitimate effective command and which are instrumental in achieving well- being. These benefits may include direct uses in the form of commodities, such as food, water or fuel; the market value of such resources or of rights to them; and the benefits derived from environmental services. Chapter 2 of this book describes the environmental services, goods and products and their contributions to human wellbeing. It also provides a framework for compensation and rewards for environmental services as incentives to communities and resource users to improve resource management and livelihoods.

Forsyth and Leach (1998), Bucknall et al., (2000), Cavendish (2000), and Comin et al., (2009) reviewed literature and empirical studies conducted in several NRM contexts in Africa that demonstrate that many poor people are able to adopt protective mechanisms through collective action which reduce the impacts of demographic, economic and environmental change. Several other empirical studies conducted in Africa have revealed that although the rural poor may have limited resources, they still have considerable capacity to adapt to environmental degradation and to rehabilitate degraded resources, as presented below.

Box 1.3: Southern Ghana and the Leaves of Marantaceae Plants

Box 1.4: Game Management in the Mkambati Reserve, South Africa

Box 1.5: The Coastal Farm Forest Association

Box 1.6: Landcare in Uganda

The environmental entitlements framework stresses the need for differentiating the social actors in terms of their capabilities, endowments and entitlements. In many regions of Africa, poverty and NRM also have important gender dimensions, affecting women and men differently (both as actors, managers and users of ecosystems). Access to natural resources is frequently unequal. Households living in extreme poverty and depending directly on the use of natural resources tend to be female headed. Even when households have a male and female head, intra-household access to, and management of natural resources, often favour men and boys. Gender informs the suitability of all options developed and, thus, all research requires a sound gender perspective from the start. Gender is arguably one of the critical factors that affect the use and management of natural resources, and greatly influences the direction and magnitude of success of projects and programmes in NRM. Chapter 5 discusses in details the gender implications of NRM and strategies for mainstreaming gender in NRM programmes, projects and policies.

The “Sustainable Development” Approach

The emphasis on sustainability in NRM can be traced back to the natural resource conservation movement of the 19th century. This movement evolved in the 20th century and took on a more holistic and global recognition and development of a set of principles for sustainable development at the international level (Box 1.7).

Box 1.7: Sustainable Development History

While many and confusing definitions of sustainable development abound, Pezzey (1989) states that “a development path is sustainable if total welfare does not decline along the path”. Critical to this definition is a realization that sufficient welfare functions through consumption, environmental quality, social equity, and other factors contributing to the quality of life (Adams, 2006; UN, 1987). This definition is broad enough to capture the essence of a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the natural resources. This is necessary so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come – intergenerational equity so to speak. The Bruntland Commission (Bruntland, 1987) first referred to sustainable development as one that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For the sustainable management of Africa’s natural resources, this definition permits broad and rigorous characterization of resource exploitation (Hasna, 2007).

Sustainable development is, therefore, a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for future generations. Sustainability requires that human activity only use nature’s resources at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally.

It is clear that this definition is rooted in a systems thinking as it stresses the three interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development, and environmental sustainability. Sustainable development, therefore, aims to bring the three together in a balanced way, as three interconnected or nested rings (Figure 1.4).


Figure 1.4: The Three-Ring Interconnected and Nested Views of Sustainable Development Depicting the Mutually Enforcing and Interdependent Pillars of Sustainable Development

Source: Adapted from Adams (2006)

The three essential dimensions of sustainable development are:

a. Economic: an economically sustainable system must be able to produce goods and services on a continuing basis, to maintain manageable levels of government and external debt, and avoid extreme sectoral imbalances that damage agricultural and/or industrial production.

b. Environmental: an environmentally sustainable system must maintain a stable resource base and avoid overexploitation of non-renewable resource systems, including maintenance of biodiversity, atmospheric stability and ecosystems services not always looked upon as economic resources.

c. Social: a socially sustainable system must achieve fairness in distribution and opportunity among all persons with adequate provision of such social services as health, education and gender equity. The social dimension focuses on reconciliation of environment and development, and governance related to provision of social services.

The nested rings approach insists that the economy is dependent on society and the environment. Human and economic activities take place within the environment and the society, depend on and have an impact on the environment. A key issue for sustainable development is therefore the integration of different dimensions of sustainability, taking a holistic view and overcoming barriers between disciplines, ideologies and sectors.

Chapter 2 of this book introduces the concepts and principles of ecosystem as social and ecological systems providing ecosystems services, goods and products for human wellbeing. Chapters 3 and 4, as well as several other chapters, take a holistic and integrated approach that appreciates the complexity and interactions of social, economic and ecological systems, and stresses the need for a more integrated, interdisciplinary and community-based approach in research, policy and practice regarding the management of natural resources.

The “Sustainable Livelihoods” Approach

This recognition of the complexity in NRM-poverty interactions has led to a focus on ‘sustainable rural livelihoods’. According to Chambers and Conway (1992): “A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, while not undermining the natural resource base.”

The ‘sustainable livelihoods’ (SL) framework is increasingly important in the NRM-development debate. The framework shows how, in different contexts, sustainable livelihoods are achieved through access to a range of livelihood resources (natural, economic, human and social capitals) which are combined in the pursuit of different livelihood strategies.

The SL framework (Figure 1.5) places people, particularly rural poor people, at the centre of a web of inter-related influences that affect how these people create a livelihood for themselves and their households. People and communities are recognized as users, producers, managers and custodians of natural resources. Their participation in management decisions, policies, projects and research has always been recognized as central for NRM. Recently, it has become necessary to re-examine the role of communities and to recognise their contributions to NRM. NRM requires dynamic communities and local practices and supportive community-based mechanisms and institutions that regulate the management of natural resources, particularly common pool resources that make the best use of natural resources. Adaptation to climate change will, to a very large degree, depend on the capacities of communities to adapt to change and recover from shocks.


Figure 1.5: The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework

Source: Scoones (1998)

Closest to the people at the centre of the framework are the resources and livelihood assets that they have access to and use. The livelihood assets also known as the asset pentagon comprise of:

i). Natural capital: the natural resource stocks (forest, soil, water, air, genetic resources etc.) and environmental services (hydrological cycle, pollution, sinks, etc) from which resource flows and services useful for livelihoods are derived.

ii). Financial capital: the capital base (cash, credit/debt, savings, and other economic assets, including basic infrastructure and production equipment and technologies) which are essential for the pursuit of any livelihood strategy.

iii). Human capital: the skills, knowledge, ability to labour and good health and physical capability important for the successful pursuit of different livelihood strategies.

iv). Social capital: the social resources (networks, social claims, social relations, affiliations, associations) upon which people draw when pursuing different livelihood strategies requiring coordinated actions.

v). Physical capital: productive assets, such as housing, tools, infrastructure, water supplies, schools, social amenities whose ownership can contribute to improving livelihoods or income.

The extent of people’s access to these assets is strongly influenced by their vulnerability context, which takes account of trends (for example, economic, political, technological, etc.), shocks (for example, epidemics, natural disasters, civil strife) and seasonality (for example, rains, droughts, employment opportunities). Access is also influenced by the prevailing social, institutional and political environment, which affects the ways in which people combine and use their assets to achieve their goals. In sustainable livelihood projects, the goal of NRM development projects is to enhance wellbeing and livelihoods of a variety of stakeholders with a responsibility to sustain the natural resource base so that future generations can meet their needs. Chapin (2009) suggests that the simplest approach is to sustain the inclusive wealth of the natural system, i.e., the total capital (natural, physical, human, and social) that constitutes the productive base available to society. Since natural and social capitals are the most difficult components of capital to renew, once they are degraded, these are the most critical components of inclusive wealth to sustain. Future generations depend most critically on those components of natural capital that cannot be regenerated or created over time scales of years to decades. These include: soil resources that govern the productive potential of the land; biodiversity that constitutes the biological reservoir of future options; regulation of the climate system that governs future environment; and cultural identity and inspirational services that provide a connection between people and the land or sea (Chapin, 2009).

The Resilience Approach

The SL Framework emphasizes the sustainability dimension, by looking at the resilience of livelihoods and the natural resource base on which, in part, they depend. Livelihoods are sustainable when they are resilient in the face of external shocks and stresses; maintain the long-term productivity of natural resources; and do not undermine the livelihoods of, or compromise the livelihood options open to others. Natural resource base sustainability refers to the ability of a system to maintain productivity when subject to disturbing forces, stresses and shocks.

A key challenge of sustainable development is the inherent complexity of NRM systems and the delicate balance of managing natural resources for present and future generations in the face of uncertainty and vulnerability at complex temporal and spatial scales. Chapin (2009) advocates broadening the concept of sustainable development to a resilience-based approach to respond to and shape change in social–ecological systems in order to sustain the supply and opportunities for use of ecosystem services by society. The resilience approach builds on sustainable development and sustainable livelihoods by emphasizing the strategies employed by communities to manage their natural resources and their livelihoods under conditions of uncertainty and in the face of rapid change. The resilience approach advances the principles of adaptive management and integrative approaches to NRM change and sustainability. It posits that the challenges of NRM can be confronted with a renewed optimism towards the empowerment of local communities to manage their natural resources more sustainably and to adapt to changes and live with uncertainty. Chapter 2 discusses the concept of socio-ecological resilience and the ability of socio-ecologic systems to recover from shocks and stresses. Chapter 6 further discusses opportunities and experience for communities to adapt to climate change.

The State of Natural Resources Management and Development in Eastern and Southern Africa

Africa entered the 21st century with paradoxes. Africa is arguably the continent most endowed with natural resources, and more than any other continent, the livelihoods of African rural populations are heavily dependent on natural resources. The livelihoods also affect the status of the natural resources in many ways. Yet, Africa remains one of the most vulnerable continents with deepening poverty levels and worrying trends of degradation of natural resources. This “paradox of plenty” (Campbell, 2009; Basedau and Wolfram, 2006) or “resource curse” (Collier, 2007) arises from a combination of multiple factors that have been the subject of an impressive scientific, academic and development literature. The sections that follow highlight some opportunities, challenges and prospects for managing natural resources for the triple objectives of economic, social and environmental sustainability.

A Continent Endowed With Abundant Natural Resources

Sub-Saharan Africa is a region that has rich and varied biological resources forming the continent’s natural wealth on which its social and economic systems are based. Africa’s natural wealth is also of global importance for the world’s climate and for the development of agriculture, industrial activities, pharmaceutical production, construction and tourism (UNEP, 2010). The 2006 Africa Environment Outlook (UNEP, 2006) reports that biodiversity, with some exceptions, is currently in a better condition than in many parts of the world. East and Southern Africa comprises several centres and hot spots of global biodiversity, some of which are in the over 2 million km2 of protected areas that Africa has. For example, the Mau complex, the largest forest of Kenya, covers some 400,000 hectares. It is one of the five main catchment areas – known as the “water towers” of Kenya.

In terms of water resources, Africa is endowed with hundreds of lakes and rivers. There are 677 lakes in Africa, of which 88 are principal lakes. Africa has also some 80 transboundary rivers and lake basins, and the catchment areas of the 17 largest exceed 100,000 km2. Lake Victoria covering Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya is the largest freshwater lake in Africa and the second largest in the world. Lake Victoria Basin is rich in both natural (terrestrial and aquatic) and agricultural biodiversity, although natural habitats are under threat from rapidly increasing human caused pollution. Furthermore, the region is home to numerous wetlands of international significance, a number of which are listed in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention). Wetlands in Africa are an important source of water and nutrients necessary for agricultural production, food security and habitat for a number of species.

The region is also a home to a number of large transboundary ecosystems, which are important for safeguarding the remarkable animal populations and their habitats. The importance of transboundary protected areas is especially obvious for migratory species. Some of these transboundary protected areas are the Mara-Serengeti national parks in Kenya and Tanzania, Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe), the Virunga Parks in Rwanda, DRC and Uganda, the Nyungwe forest (Rwanda)/Kibira National Park (Burundi).

Table 1.2 summarizes the status of some natural resources in selected African countries. Compared with the total land area, the proportion of arable land can be visualized in terms of the challenges and opportunities for managing the resources in each country in order to address livelihood challenges of the projected population and rationalize use of the vast natural resources such as water, especially through agricultural withdrawals.

A Continent with Multiple Crises

Despite this abundance of natural resources, deforestation, desertification, land degradation, water shortage and contamination, threat to biodiversity, and climate change are some of the many environmental problems that Africa experiences today. The combined effects of these multiple crises have serious consequences on the management of natural resources. This section summarizes some key highlights of these crises.

Deepening Poverty

Poverty and inequalities are deepening in many African countries. Africa has a large share of the proportions of the more than 1 billion poor people. The severity of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and the limited progress in reducing it indicate that the poorest in sub-Saharan Africa may be trapped in poverty. This has led to the revision of poverty line thresholds distinguishing three types of poverty: the medial poor (those living on less than $1 a day, the threshold defined by the international community as constituting extreme poverty), the subjacent poor ($0.75) and ultra poor ($0.50). Millions of the ultra poor- those living on less than 50 cents a day- are overwhelmingly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa (Ahmed et al., 2007). With this poverty trap, poverty begets poverty, and in the absence of other options, the poor people are heavily dependent on the use of natural resources for a significant part of their daily livelihoods.

Table 1.2: Characteristics of Selected Eastern and Southern African (ESA) Countries


Demographic Crisis

The rate of population growth in Africa is the most rapid: over 70% faster than in Asia (annual growth of 2.4% versus 1.4% in Asia, compared to the global average of 1.3% and only 0.3% in many industrialized countries). Africa’s population is projected to increase from about 770 million to nearly 1.7 billion by 2050. For example, the East Africa community (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi) together have a population of over 181 million, which is expected to grow by 66% over the next 25 years. Although this population will remain largely rural, demographic trends and environmental degradation are pushing a large number of people to migrate to rapidly growing urban slums that lack infrastructure and services for waste management, energy, water and sanitation. There is no doubt that this rapid population growth is exerting pressure on natural resources and increasing the number of poor and hungry people.

Food Crisis

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated that in 2010, more than 1 billion people in the developing world are experiencing some form of shortage in food supply (Nelleman et al., 2009). FAO’s estimates show that the number of undernourished has risen in about 25 countries in Africa since 1990–92, presenting the continent with a major challenge in achieving the MDG targets of reducing hunger and extreme poverty by 2015. The Global Hunger Index further show that there is a higher concentration of hungry people in conflict and post conflict countries such as the DRC, Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia, and in countries where natural resources are at great risk.

It is clear that the degradation of natural resources and global challenges such as climate change are some of the significant factors causing chronic food crises in Africa. Nelleman et al., (2009) discuss the environmental causes of this food crisis, including climate change.

Financial Crisis

The 2008-2009 financial crisis and economic depression have rendered millions of people less able to meet their food, health care, and education needs. The poor must now draw on depleted assets even more deeply, potentially creating poverty traps and negatively affecting longer-term environmental sustainability, food security and well-being (FAO, 2009). Although Africa was less seriously affected by the financial crisis, its negative impacts on the environment are considerable. African Governments’ investments and policies are focusing on economic recovery, and less on environment and other social sectors. In many countries, important programmes have been suspended indefinitely as donor funding and government budgets are reduced or in deficit. The programmes targeting NRM have been lowered in government and international funding priority. Many international development agencies have been forced to reduce their NRM programmes.

The financial crisis impacted on the momentum in the global environmental movement. It affected climate change negotiations on reducing carbon emissions in developed countries, and generated resistance from emerging economies (China, India, Brazil, South Africa) to accept suggestions to slow their economic growth. For example, China’s overall trade with Africa in 2006 at USD 55 billion was 10 times the level of 1995 with imports into China dominated by natural resource commodities including oil, natural gas, minerals and timber. It is reported that many exports to China are illegal – resulting from illegal felling and trade from Tanzania and Mozambique (Bass et al., 2009).

Energy Crisis

Increased oil prices in 2007-2008 had far reaching consequences on the economy and the environment. This crisis led the world to focus attention on bio-fuels and other renewable energy sources.

Biofuels have grown quickly in demand and production, fuelled by high oil prices and the initial perception of their role in reducing CO2 emissions. The recent investment boom in biofuels is a notable trend that continues to raise some debate and controversies. Biofuels are seen by some as a strategic investment and an engine of economic growth, poverty reduction, access to clean energy, and environmental rehabilitation. Many view it as neo-colonial “land grab” that will benefit only international investors and local elites while displacing and dispossessing local communities of their lands and resources, destroying ecosystems and exacerbating water, food and/or ecological problems. Some Governments (like Uganda) have sought to de-gazette natural forests for biofuel plantations. Others, like in Mozambique and Tanzania, are fast-tracking conversion of vast areas endowed with natural resources for biofuels production as a solution to energy shortages. In Ethiopia, 1.15 million hectares are either granted to foreign companies or are under negotiation for biofuels production.

Governance Crisis

Natural resources can, and often do, provoke conflicts within societies as different groups; factions fight for the control and exploitation of resources and their revenues. In his book, The Bottom Billion, Collier (2007) demonstrates that many African countries are trapped in a “natural resource curse and conflict traps”. The resource curse (also known as the paradox of plenty) refers to the paradox that countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources, like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. Moreover, they tend to experience conflicts and civil wars. More than half the world’s conflicts in 1999 occurred in sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank, 2007). At least ten countries in Eastern and Central Africa have been affected by conflict or political instability in recent years. In some African countries (DRC, Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan) access to resource revenues by belligerents was responsible for prolonging conflicts and civil wars, and is a major threat to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Environmental Crisis

Figure 1.6 gives examples of some of the important environmental crises or problems in Africa. These include: forest degradation, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, threat to wildlife, climate change, looming water crisis, etc.


Figure 1.6: Examples of Important NRM Issues in Africa

Source: UNEP 2009.

Land Degradation

The Global Assessment of Soil Degradation (GLASOD) reports that degraded soils amount to about 494 millions hectares (ha) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This represents 65% of SSA’s agricultural land that is degraded because of water and soil erosion, chemical and physical degradation (Oldeman et al., 1991 in Bationo, 2009). This represents an estimated loss of US$ 42 billion in income and 6 billion ha of productive land every year due to land degradation and declining agricultural productivity. In Zimbabwe, soil erosion alone results in an annual loss of N and P totalling US$1.5 billion. In South Africa, 29% of the country suffered land degradation, affecting about 17 million people, or 38% of the South African population (Bai and Dent, 2007). The productivity of some lands has declined by 50% due to soil erosion and desertification. The annual cost of desertification is estimated at US$ 9.3 billion.

Water Crisis

Water scarcity will affect over 1.8 billion people by 2025 (AWDR, 2007). Within the next 15 to 20 years, the area considered to have relative water security in Africa will fall from nearly 53% to 35%, affecting some 600 million people. According to some estimates, by 2025, up to 16% of Africa’s population (230 million people) will be living in countries facing water scarcity, and 32% (460 million people) in water-stressed countries (IAASTD, 2009). One major factor beyond agricultural, industrial and urban consumption of water is the destruction of watersheds and natural water towers, such as forests in watersheds and wetlands, which also serve as flood buffers (Gichuki, 2002). Watersheds are already heavily populated and cultivated, in ways that have reduced water infiltration and storage and increased soil erosion and sedimentation of dams. Serious conflicts are anticipated between water demand for agriculture and industrial use critical for economic development for hydroelectric power, and for local day-to-day use by rural and urban populations (Gichuki, 2002; Rosegrant, 2002).


Agenda 21 (Para 11.10) states:

Forests worldwide are being threatened by uncontrolled degradation and conversion to other forms of land uses, influenced by increasing human needs; agricultural expansion; and environmentally harmful mismanagement, including: lack of forest fire control, anti-poaching measures, unsustainable commercial logging, overgrazing, airborne pollutants, economic incentives, and activities of other sectors of the economy. The impacts of loss and degradation of forests are in the form of soil erosion, loss of biological diversity, damage to wild habitats and degradation of waters the leaves of Marantaceae plants held areas, deterioration of the quality of life, and reduction of the options for development.

It is estimated that every year, nearly 17 million hectares of tropical rain forests are destroyed, thousands of irreplaceable plant varieties are lost, and millions of hectares of land turn into deserts. Deforestation causes loss of resources, loss of ecological function (e.g., carbon sequestration, hydrological function) and loss of biodiversity. A study has estimated that the global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis: the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 and $5 trillion. This is much more than Wall Street’s earlier loss of about $1 to $1.5 trillion.

Table 1.2 shows that some African countries have higher deforestation rates compared to global estimates for tropical deforestation of 0.5% to 1.0% per annum. The State of East Africa Report 2006 (SID, 2006) reports that an area larger than Rwanda has been deforested in four countries of East Africa in just the past decade due in part to population pressure on agricultural land. In Kenya, the forests have dwindled because large tracts of terrestrial and wetland ecosystems have been converted to farmland. The once extensive Mau Forest has been seriously degraded by human actions. Over the past decade, more than 46,000 hectares of the Mau have been cut off and converted to other land uses, such as human settlement and private agriculture. The large-scale encroachment of human populations, charcoal production and the logging of indigenous trees are causing massive deforestation with severe impacts on water resources, leading to the drying up of boreholes and rivers. This situation is threatening the very existence of the ecologically and economically important Masai Mara Game Reserve, and the Sondu Miriu and Mara rivers. These rivers are the lifeline of major lakes in Kenya, such as Lake Naivasha, and a number of transboundary lakes—Lake Victoria in the Nile River basin; Lake Turkana in Kenya and Ethiopia; and Lake Natron in the United Republic of Tanzania and Kenya.

Loss of Biodiversity

Africa is losing large amounts of biodiversity due to population pressure and associated exploitation of natural resources. Loss of forest biodiversity is due both to the total loss of forest cover (deforestation), as well as to the loss of biodiversity components within forest (degradation). The International Year (2010) of Biodiversity has a target of “achieving by 2010 a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national levels as a contribution to poverty alleviation and for the benefit of all life on Earth”.

Climate Change

There is consensus that Africa will be most affected by climate change, especially the semi-arid regions north and south of the equator. As a result of global climate change, many SSA countries have experienced both droughts and floods in recent years, with considerable loss of life, environmental assets and infrastructure. The evidence is that climate change will lead to extreme rainfall events – droughts and floods – with dire consequences to agricultural production, especially for the vulnerable smallholder farmers (For details see Chapter 6). In Eastern and Southern Africa, climate change vulnerability is heightened by the large number of people who depend on the already marginalized natural resource base for their livelihoods. Chapter 6 discusses the impacts of climate change in more details.

Land Grab

The convergence of global crises in food, energy, finance and the environment has led to a scramble for Africa’s farmlands which are increasingly perceived as sources of alternative energy (primarily biofuels), food crops, mineral deposits (new and old) and reservoirs of environmental services. This has been commonly referred to as “land grab’ to describe the current explosion of (trans) national commercial land transactions revolving around the production and sale of food and biofuels, conservation and mining activities (von Braun and Meinzen-Dick, 2009). Bass et al., (2009) suggest that the next decade will see a continuation of massive assetstripping and environmental degradation, the result of local and foreign elites driving land conversion to agriculture and poorly regulated extractive industries. Increasing demand for Africa’s natural resources presents new and difficult challenges, but also new opportunities. It is feared that this scramble for Africa’s farmland will dispossess communities and will have negative impacts on ecosystems and livelihoods in countries with weak regulations and governance systems (Friis and Reenberg, 2010).

Summary and Conclusion

In Africa, development and sustainable livelihoods remain the key goal in poverty reduction and in reversing degradation of natural resources. This chapter recognizes the complex challenges of linking NRM to development in a rapidly changing continent and the world at large. This chapter explored the different concepts and paradigms on NRM-Development nexus, and provided insights on the development challenges and opportunities in the region. Managing natural resources for development in Africa requires a fundamental paradigm shift that emphasizes the complexity of NRM-Development dynamics, entitlements and capabilities. This book advocates for a shift from the conventional orthodox view that presents poverty as a major cause of environmental degradation. This causal link is too simplistic and the nexus between NRM and development is governed by a complex web of factors. We advocate for a balance between development and sustainability and broaden the concept of sustainable development to take a more people-centred approach based on the sustainable livelihood approach. In the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods, poor people and resource user communities have the capacity to develop institutions and strategies to regulate the use of natural resources, prevent their degradation and improve their management. Given the multiple crises and increasing pressures on natural resources faced by African countries, we advocate for a resilience-based management approach to emphasize the key role of resilience in fostering adaptation and renewal to sustain the supply and opportunities to harness natural resources for human wellbeing in face of rapid change and uncertainty.

Development priorities should be based on a good understanding of the challenges and opportunities, as well as scenarios and prospects in the region. Designing projects, policies and research requires an appreciation and integration of the different dimensions of sustainability and livelihoods, focusing on particular NRM challenges in specific areas, with specific communities, and providing an encompassing and integrated framework for implementing and promoting solutions for livelihoods improvement in the face of rapid degradation of natural resources.

It is clear that Managing natural resources for development in Africa requires integrated, multi-sectorial, multi-institutional, multi-stakeholder and interdisciplinary approaches that can resolve the often conflicting objectives and uncoordinated strategies by different sectors that contribute to the degradation of natural resources. A new approach to natural resource management must be developed so that new management systems can be tailored and adapted in a site-specific way to highly variable and diverse farm conditions typical of resource-poor farmers. Management options should be integrated as far as possible. NRM brings both challenges and opportunities for managers, resource users, and policy makers to make informed decisions that enhance sustainability of our planet. Since NRM processes are multi-stakeholder – incorporating the public and private sectors, communities, non-governmental and local organizations, donors and individual entrepreneurs – it is important to have clear governance systems and policies that balance development, equity and environmental sustainability. In the chapters that follow, these issues will be explored in more details in terms of socio-ecological resilience (Chapter 2), integrated natural resource management (Chapter 3), community-based natural resource management (Chapter 4), gender and natural resource management (Chapter 5), adaptation to climate change (Chapter 6), programmes and project management (Chapter 7), policy and governance (Chapter 8) and innovations in research for NRM (Chapter 9).

Learning Activities

Revision Questions

1. Compare and contrast different perspectives on the linkages between NRM, poverty and livelihoods.

2. There are emerging opportunities for Africa to mitigate climate change by large scale production of biofuels. What are the prospects for achieving this objective in Africa and what are the implications for natural resources management and sustainable development?

3. Africa is facing a looming water crisis. How could African governments avert such crisis?

4. Sustainable natural resource management is an elusive concept. How can natural resources be managed to achieve the triple objectives of economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability?

5. In preparation of the 15th Conference of Parties (CoP15) of the UN Conference on Climate Change held in Copenhagen in December 2009, African governments presented a common position. Highlight the key points of this position and discuss their implications for sustainable development in Africa.


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Concepts, Theories and Principles of Natural Resource Management

E. K. Maranga, P. H. Mugabe and R. K. Bagine


Natural resources are intricately linked to the livelihoods of most countries in Africa and elsewhere and are the basis of subsistence in many poor communities. Natural resources account for 26% of the wealth of low-income countries (UNEP, 2007) and are the mainstay of many developing economies. The world’s ecosystems are capital assets. If properly managed, they yield a flow of vital services, including the production of goods such as food, fibre and timber as well as life support processes such as pollination and water purification. They also confer other life-fulfilling conditions such as anaesthetic appeal and serenity. Moreover, ecosystems have value in terms of the conservation of options such as genetic diversity for future use (Gretchen et al., 2000).

This chapter discusses selected theories, concepts and principles relevant in natural resource management (NRM). The NRM applies ecological and socio-economic theory in evaluating the impacts of physical and anthropogenic effects on qualitative and quantitative dynamics of natural resource components. Ecosystem concepts provide premises that link natural resources, components including man, as an integral part of biological systems with the physical systems upon which they depend. Ecosystem theory underpins biotic-biotic and abiotic-biotic relationships. This theory, therefore, provides a unifying strand for the contents of this chapter.

The Chapter defines natural resources and natural resource systems from an ecosystem perspective. This is followed by a discourse of a selected array of concepts, theories and principles which are discussed only to the extent that their plausibility in natural resource management is appreciated. The reader is encouraged to make reference to detailed presentation of respective concepts, theories, and principles in the subsequent chapters of the book or consult other basic textbooks in applied ecology.

The ecosystem concept provides a basis for novel ecosystem approaches such as systems analysis in studies of the impacts of physical and anthropogenic disturbances on the dynamics of natural resource components. These concepts are discussed in terms of energy flows and material cycling. The concept of trophic dynamics has gained popularity in descriptions of energy transfer circuits between and within autotrophic and heterotrophic elements. Autotrophic and heterotrophic interactions in relation to energy transfer efficiencies are succinctly articulated in this chapter in relation to NRM.

Increasing population pressure on natural resource systems in sub-Saharan Africa is a threat to ecosystem integrity and support of human livelihoods that depend on fragile ecosystems. This challenge is raising biodiversity concerns as well. The chapter explores the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of the ecological contexts of natural resource systems and concludes with a section on resource management challenges and development.

The broad objective of this chapter is to present an overview of the concepts, theories and principles applicable in Natural Resource Management (NRM) with particular reference to the African continent. Specifically, the chapter aims to present an overview of the practical usefulness of ecological and socio-economic theory in NRM and to expose the reader to underlying concepts, processes, contexts and challenges of the application of ecological theory in the management of biodiversity resources in Africa.

Through the exposure to the contents of this chapter, the reader should be able to:

• Explain the fundamental concepts, principles and philosophy of NRM and apply relevant tools in maintaining the integrity of natural ecosystems.

• Recognize the role of biophysical and anthropogenic disturbances on ecosystem resources and apply resource management interventions to achieve sustainable natural resource management outcomes.

• Define and explain ecosystem processes that influence ecosystem goods and services and develop knowledge systems for the diagnosis of trends in ecosystem resilience.

• Discuss the varied contexts and challenges of resource management in Africa, offer advisory services on effective NRM and carry out effective research.

• Demonstrate professional acumen in multidisciplinary resource management initiatives.

Natural Resources, Natural Resource Systems and their Importance

The meaning of natural resources has kept changing over the years. The nature of the change has been characterised by divergences in disciplinary conceptualizations of the meaning of resources. Schools of thought such as ecology, sociology and environmental science define natural resources from disciplinary perspectives. For example, sociology and economics view natural resources from a humanistic and purely economic sense. Such definitions consider natural resources as material sources of wealth such as timber, mineral deposits, or water that occur in a natural state. Such materialistic definitions also embrace an economic perspective.

Economic perspectives of natural resources consider the commercial value of natural resources and the industries that they support. In this sense, economic theory considers that private ownership of natural resources tends to produce efficient consumption because the profit motive imposes realistic pricing. This materialistic and exploitative dimension of resources (as seen from the perspective of economic theory) is the basis of conflicts associated with the use of natural resources. The idea of natural resource conflicts is further developed in Chapter 3 on Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM).

In order to protect natural resources from overuse and destruction, natural resources ownership and rights to property of individuals, communities or even states have featured prominently in legal statutes (see Chapter 8: Policy and Governance). Legal distinctions have been drawn between natural resources that are a feature of real property or those that are not. Natural resources associated with real property include forest, timber, mineral deposits such as gold, copper, uranium and fossil based fuels. Natural resources that are not fixed on land such as air, are not ordinarily well associated with property rights.

The concepts of resource exploitation and depletion are well anchored in economic theory. In economics, the tendency of exhaustion of public natural resources is called the “tragedy of the commons”, as described in Chapter 4 of this book. In accounting, the write down of partially consumed natural resources is called depletion. Resource ownership relations and community based natural resource use concepts are further explored in the subsequent chapters.

Natural resources may be classified into renewable and non-renewable resources. Renewable natural resources are those that may be replaced after exploitation or extraction due to their ability for renewal through natural processes of growth or replenishment. These resources include animals, plants, rain, wind and tidal energy. Solar energy is not renewable but may be regarded as infinite. Non-renewable resources are natural resources which after exploitation or extraction, reach a level beyond which regeneration is impossible. This includes mineral substances such as coal, gold, aluminium, copper, and oils. Renewable natural resources are undervalued and overused. But they are also vital to livelihoods at community, national and international levels. Global Environmental Changes (GEC) such as climate change put more pressure on natural resources (for example by affecting ecosystems or increasing carbon emissions that precipitate thermal perturbations). Such changes, however, also present opportunities – for instance through global carbon markets and schemes to offset carbon emissions.

The emergence of the ecosystem concepts and considerations of natural resources as complex sources of interrelated elements existing in a state of ecological balance which must be sustained for life to survive on planet earth is gaining popularity. The ecosystem theory (Chapin et al., 2009), considers the tangible and intangible values of natural systems that produce natural resources from the point of view of sustenance of life. This is an integrated and holistic perspective of natural resources.

In this context, an operational definition of natural resources that integrates materialistic, aesthetic (recreational), philosophical and moral values associated with the natural resources should reflect this integration. From this stand point, a natural resource is any material from nature that has potential economic and ecological value to life such as water, natural tree products, minerals and vital gases. From the perspective of ecosystem theory, a natural resource is a material occurring in nature that has actual or potential value to a natural system that supports living organisms. Such material resources include air, water, critical chemicals (abiotic resources), plants and animals (biotic resources). Biotic and abiotic resources are critical to life processes since they provide organic and inorganic products that drive life processes.

Management of natural resources embraces the ecosystem theory which considers tangible and non-tangible resource values from an integrated and holistic perspective. Natural resource management is a science because it applies systematized bodies of knowledge within the domain of natural science. The application of applied ecology and in particular ecosystem theory in the integrated management of natural resources will continue to provide plausible premises for the advancement of natural science and management of natural resources. It is also an art because management involves utilitarian considerations. These considerations invoke application of sociological domains of knowledge in the management of natural resources. Social-cultural perspectives that influence resource use are anchored in the value systems of society. Perspectives of integrated NRM are discussed in Chapter three while community based natural resource management scenarios are also further developed in Chapter four.

Ecosystem Concepts and Theories

In this section, selected concepts and theories are presented and discussed within the context of natural resource management. The section specifically describes ecosystem, ecosystem structure, ecosystem functions and services, patterns, hierarchies, energy flows and important nutrient cycles.

Ecosystem: description

The term ecosystem was proposed by Tansely (1935) in an effort to apply systems thinking to the complexity in nature. Ecological systems are assemblages of biotic (living) organisms in association with their abiotic or physical and chemical environment.

An ecosystem consists of organisms (plants, microbes, and animals—including people) and the physical components (atmosphere, soil, water, etc.) with which they interact. All ecosystems are influenced, to a given degree, by social processes (that is are social-ecological systems), although ecosystem studies tend to focus on biological interactions (Chapin et al., 2009).

Ecosystem theory is an approach to the study of ecological systems that consists of the ‘scientific study of the progressive, mutual accommodation, throughout the biotic and abiotic processes, between and within active elements, and the changing properties of the immediate settings in which the processes occur, as this process is affected by the relations between the components of the ecosystem, and by the larger contexts in which the ecosystems are embedded’.

A woodland ecosystem in Southern Africa for instance, is typically comprised of vegetation that includes trees, grasses, shrubs, and forbs, as well as different animals with different feeding habits, insects, birds, soil organisms and microorganisms. All the plants and animals in an ecosystem are affected by the sun, the weather, terrain, soil structure, humidity and a host of other physical and soil chemical features. These animals, plants, soil and atmospheric features and the interactions that occur among them together form the ecosystem, a recognizable self-contained and self-sustaining unit.

The geographic size or scale of an ecosystem is relative to the ecologist’s interest. For instance, the collection of micro-organisms in the stomach of a grazing herbivore can be considered to represent an ecosystem. Woodland, a pond or a range of mountains are examples of macro-ecosystems. It is, therefore, less important to try to draw lines as to where the ecosystem ends than it is to describe the ecosystems in terms of all the various components in the system, and how they interact. This is what defines the extent and boundary of the ecosystem. It is also often difficult to see where one ecosystem ends and another starts. It is unusual for the edges of natural woodlands, for example to be distinctly or abruptly defined. Rather, the size of trees decreases gradually towards the edge, and they become further apart. This zone merges into wooded bush or grassland, where the trees are scattered, singly or in clumps. Often, they are of different species from those within the woodland. Such transition zones between two different ecosystems or communities are called ecotones. Since ecotones represent transitional ecosystem states, it is apparent that natural resource management requirements for such ecosystems must be considered carefully in relation to non transitional states.

Ecosystem structure

Ecosystem characteristics are best described in relation to their structural and functional attributes. Ecosystem structure is about the components of ecosystem and their spatial relationships. Ecosystem function is the flux of biomass, nutrients and energy throughout the ecosystem.

The magnitude of energy fluxes and intensity of material resource transformations define the dynamics and integrity of natural resource systems. Figure 2.1 illustrates the ecosystem structure and the nesting of relationships between elements of ecosystems.


Figure 2.1: Ecosystem Structure Indicating the Components, Linkages and Associated Fluxes

Source: Chapin et al., 2009

The implications of trophic dynamics to NRM must be considered at the spatial and temporal levels and the ecosystem level for the following reasons. The major problem faced by all organisms is how to obtain adequate energy and nutrients to support growth, survival and reproduction. It is often time consuming and expensive to unravel the feeding relations of every species in detail and its interactions with others in an ecosystem. It is, however, relatively easy to consider feeding interactions, for example, between herbivores and consumers and implications on ecosystem dynamics. The classification of biotic components on the basis of trophic levels provides an appreciation of the importance of each living organism in the flow of energy and cycling of nutrients in an ecosystem.

Abiotic components are the non-living factors, both physical and chemical which make up the organism’s environment. The abiotic component is intimately linked to the biotic component in terms of energy flows and material cycling. Abiotic factors include soil and all its physical and chemical components, climate, atmosphere, radiation and geography. Soil is a complex system of fragments of parent mineral material, organic matter, water, minerals and gases. It provides an anchor and supplies nutrients for growing plants. It is also a habitat for a variety of decomposer micro organisms. Soil type influences the type of vegetation that can grow and hence the types of animals that can live in an area. Climatic factors such as temperature, rainfall and humidity all affect the growth of organisms. Temperature influences metabolic transformations through the catalytic function of enzymes. The rate of catalytic activity is a function of temperature.

Temperature affects many other processes that dictate the role of natural resources to human well-being and are critical considerations in NRM. Such processes include control of energy release. Temperature affects the germination of seeds, the growth and development of plants, and plant metabolic and physiological processes. Temperature also affects decomposition processes that are vital in the cycling of nutrients.

The ecological importance of water is an extension of its physiological significance. It is a medium of transfer of assimilates and excretion of toxic substances from body fluids. Water provides a dissipative mechanism for thermal energy and regulation of thermal energy balance of organic and non-organic surfaces. Climate, therefore, primarily affects plants, which provide food and shelter for animals. The atmosphere acts as an important pool of inorganic and organic materials in particulate or gaseous form. The atmosphere must therefore interact with other ecosystem components for a continuous cycling of nutrients. Solar radiation or photosynthetically active radiation is the source of energy used in photosynthesis and is the starting point of almost all life processes. Geographic factors such as slope, aspect and topography affect the distribution of organisms. These factors affect water retention and runoff in an area, the amount of radiation available to plants, the growth of plants, and the ease with which animals can move about in search for food and the availability of shelter for animals.

Ecosystems Services and Human Wellbeing

Ecosystems are the basis for social and economic development. Human well-being and development depend on ecosystem goods such as food, timber and medicines, and services such as water and air purification, carbon storage, pollination, soil formation, and the provision of aesthetic and cultural benefits. The challenge is to sustain the resilience of ecosystems – their capacity to cope with disturbances and maintain an adequate supply of goods and services. This is especially important in the face of global environmental change including climate change which may cause more frequent and intense disturbances. When the supply of ecosystem goods and services is diminished, human societies suffer from effects such as soil erosion, floods and crop failure. These effects can have grave implications for human health, wealth, livelihood, food security, social cohesion, and even democracy. Actively promoting ecosystem resilience is, therefore, critical to ensuring future human welfare.

Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning, regulating, and cultural services, which directly affect people, and supporting services needed to maintain the other services. Changes in these services affect human well-being through impacts on security, the necessary material for a good life, health, and social and cultural relations. These constituents of well-being are in turn influenced by and have an influence on the freedoms and choices available to people (Figure 2.2.).

Swallow et al., (2009) define “environmental service” as a positive benefit that people obtain from the environment. The environmental services of forests and landscapes, for example, are usually categorized into watershed protection, biodiversity conservation, atmospheric regulation (including greenhouse gas mitigation) and landscape beauty.


Figure 2.2: Ecosystems Services and Human Well-Being

Source: Chapin et al., (2009).

Supporting services are the foundation for the other categories of ecosystem services that are directly used by society. In addition, the goods harvested by people are influenced by landscape processes, which include regulatory services, and, in turn, influence people’s connection to the land and sea (cultural services).

The goal of ecosystem management is to provide a sustainable flow of multiple ecosystem services to society today and in the future. As an integral component of natural resource stewardship, ecosystem management recognizes the integrated nature of social–ecological systems, their inherent complexity and dynamics at multiple temporal and spatial scales, and the importance of managing to maintain future options in the face of uncertainty, that is many of the factors governing the resilience and vulnerability of social-ecological systems.

Swallow et al., (2009) describe four extreme circumstances of tradeoffs or complementarities between environmental conservation and human well-being:

i). Ecosystems may be conserved and the poor made better off;

ii). Ecosystems may be conserved at the expense of the poor who rely on the ecosystem services;

iii). The poor may be made better off, but at the expense of ecosystem services that are highly valued by the larger society; or

iv). Ecosystems may continue to degrade at the same time as the rights and well-being of the poor decline.

In recent years, there have been efforts to promote mechanisms for Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) or Compensation and Rewards for Environmental Services (CRES) for the dual goals of improved ecosystem management and enhanced human well-being. Payment for Environmental Service (PES) is “….a voluntary, conditional transaction where at least one buyer pays at least one seller for maintaining or adopting sustainable land management practices that favour the provision of a well-defined environmental service (Swallow et al., 2009). A CRES mechanism may be mostly viewed as a possible alternative income stream for poor people, that is, a new way to “put money in farmers’ pockets.” CRES are viewed as mechanisms for resolving conflicts over resource access and benefit sharing.


Figure 2.3: A Framework for Compensation and Rewards for Environmental Services (CRES)

Source: Swallow et al., (2009)

Figure 2.3 shows a conceptual framework for typifying and characterizing different types of mechanisms that link ecosystem stewards, ecosystem service beneficiaries, and intermediaries. This framework for Compensation and Rewards for Environmental Services (CRES) is viewed as a way to provide positive incentives for good environmental stewardship to go along with the standard set of environmental regulations (Swallow et al., 2009). In Eastern and Southern Africa, projects such as Pro-poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa (PRESA) – – are working to foster the development, implementation and assessment of workable environmental service agreements in four core landscapes and four associate landscapes in the highlands of East and West Africa.

Ecosystem Function

Ecosystem function is the flux of biomass, nutrients and energy throughout the ecosystem. Energy and material transfer between and within ecosystems influences ecosystem behaviour in terms of the capacity of the ecosystem to provide goods and services. An understanding of ecosystem function is critical in NRM. Energy transfer efficiencies that regulate ecosystem productivity are a function of abiotic and biotic influences. The interaction between abiotic and biotic factors and mechanisms of regulation of ecosystem processes central to ecosystem performance are depicted in Figure 2.4.


Figure 2.4: Relationship Between State Factors Interactive Controls and Ecosystem Processes

Source: (Adapted from Chapin et al., 1996)

As shown in the figure, climate (light and carbon dioxide) and below ground material resources (soil nutrients derived from soil parent material and decaying biota) influence ecosystem processes. The water factor in climate exerts the most pervasive influence on ecosystem structure and function.

For example, the availability of material resources is a function of climate, vegetation, soils and topography. Light availability at the plant level may be regulated by cloudiness, leaf orientation, leaf architecture and arrangement, associated shading characteristics in addition to leaf optical properties. Temperature regimes may be a function of heat energy exchange processes involving the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. At the leaf boundary layer, the magnitude and direction of sensible heat transport and latent heat transfer dictate the thermal energy dynamics that have important implications on metabolic transformations associated with such processes as CO2 assimilation, carbohydrate metabolism, protein synthesis, and rates of respiratory activities.

Soil moisture availability is subject to the influence of physical and chemical characteristics of soils that control water infiltration rates (such as soil structure and texture) water retention capacity and moisture release characteristics. Soil compaction due to anthropogenic activities reduces water infiltration rates, and affects soil moisture content and water availability for plant use. Soil chemical properties (such as soil mineralogical composition may interact with physical and biological effects to determine soil water acceptance, subsurface water flow, soil, moisture release characteristics and soil water available capacity. Similarly, soil fertility depends on biotic and abiotic factors that influence humification and mineralization. These factors include climate, litter quality, organic matter, and species diversity of decomposer micro organisms. In aquatic ecosystems, availability of dissolved oxygen, the depth of light penetration, temperature conditions and the pH of water determine plant and animal species diversity, complexity of food chains and trophic dynamics.

The physical and chemical properties that affect the activities of organisms, also known as modulators, are not depleted by organisms (Field et al., 1992). However, modulators such as solar radiation, temperature, pollutants, pH, redox state of the soil etc., are constrained by climate and are sensitive to ecosystem processes such as latent and sensible heat transport.

Ecosystem perturbations (disturbance regimes) induced by such factors as fragmentation of forests, blocking of wildlife migratory corridors, fire, wind, environmental catastrophes (floods, droughts, wind storms) influence biotic structure and process rates in ecosystems. Disturbance regimes like other interactive controls are a function of state factors and ecosystem processes. For example, the rate of spread of fire, intensity of fire and resultant fire effects depend on wind regimes, moisture content of the fuel load and the flammability of the plant material. Similarly, climate influences plant species diversity and quantity of available inflammable biomass (fuel load). Plant life forms both in their relative botanical composition, relative abundance and species interactions (biotic community interactions) influence ecosystem processes in their own right just as much as climate differences or other differences such as parent material (geologic substrate material).

Box 2.1: Ecological and Management Perspectives: The Growing Challenges of Prosopis Juliflor

Semi-arid plant life forms are typically characterized by small boundary layer surfaces (small leaf area index) with low rates of photosynthesis, high cooling efficiency and less probability of thermal loading and accumulation of secondary compounds such as anthraquinones, saponins, tannins, glucosinolates, alkaloids and cyanogenic compounds. Plant succession induced anthropogenically may have significant implications on key functional plant species on ecosystem processes and ecosystem change. For example, the introduction of Prosopis juliflora into the semi- arid rangelands of Baringo District in Kenya for purposes of arresting soil water erosion and conservation of soil moisture has instead caused biodiversity erosion. Prosopis juliflora has an aggressive growth habit due to its allelopathic interactions.

Anthropogenic factors influence interactive controls such as water availability, disturbance regimes, and biotic diversity. Human activities such as deforestation impact evapotranspiration rates by reducing water vapour input into the atmosphere. In view of the climatological significance of water vapour in the atmosphere, deforestation regimes impact water availability directly. Similarly, deforestation influences the hydrological conditions that determine surface runoff and rainfall infiltration rates. Increased surface runoff and reduced soil moisture recharge have been linked to deforestation (FAO, 2005). Table 2.1 indicates that deforestation in the eastern African countries was a significant feature in the period of investigation (1990-2000). It should be remembered that shrinkage of forest cover remains as the most important factor in the atmospheric increase of CO2 emissions.

Table 2.1: Forest Cover Change in the Eastern African Countries 1990-2000

Total land area Country

Total forest area (‘000ha)

% of land area (‘000ha)

Annual change ‘000ha (1990-2000)

Annual rate of change % (1990-2000)










Not available































Source FAO, 2005

Carbon emissions from combustion of fossil based fuels and particulate pollutants that influence turbidity affect state factors through regional and global climate change. Human activities have been associated with shrinking biodiversity through clear cutting of forests logging, encroachment on gazetted forest lands, etc. Such disturbances influence the structure and functioning of ecosystems resulting in novel conditions that lead to new ecosystems. The disturbances are aggravated by global changes such as climate change (See chapter 6 for more details).

Competitive interactions and symbiotic relationships produce both negative and positive feedbacks. For example, allelopathic interactions associated with Prosopis juliflora depress the species that would have naturally co-existed with it resulting in the exclusion of competitors. This is an instance of a negative feedback. However, leguminous trees such as Acacia tortilis house nitrogen fixing Rhizobium in their nodules. Cyanobacteria and its associates fix nitrogen in the soil that is made available to the plant. These nitrogen fixing bacteria obtain assimilates in return for nitrogen fixation. This symbiotic and mutualistic relationship benefits both partners until constrained by other factors. The partners in a symbiotic relationship have a positive effect on each other (positive feedbacks).

Strong negative feedbacks provide resistance to changes in interactive controls and stabilize ecosystems. In plant community interactions, the differential acquisition of material resources such as light, water and mineral elements makes these resources unavailable to others, constraining the productivity of an ecosystem. Ecosystem dynamics involve feedbacks associated with acquisition of material resources.

Human activities related to changes in land uses, application of management interventions etc. affect ecosystems both directly and indirectly. The indirect effects include alterations of the chemistry of the atmosphere, changes in the hydrological conditions of the surface and climate change. Direct human effects are associated with production of natural resource system goods, and ecosystem services. Manipulation of ecosystems for goods and services affects species composition, species diversity and ecosystem integrity and resilience. Therefore, such ecosystems may become unstable and less resilient requiring large subsidies of inputs in order to stabilize them and maintain their productivity.

Intensive use of agrochemicals and insecticides increases the probability of environmental poisoning often seriously affecting the organic-detritus-food chain. Similarly, overharvesting of fish, particularly in commercial fisheries drastically alters species composition and may negatively affect population dynamics of target species.

Disposal of organic domestic and industrial effluents into aquatic bodies create conditions that trigger algal blooms. High densities of algal blooms place a high demand on dissolved oxygen resulting in conditions of oxygen deficiency (asphyxiation). Asphyxiation conditions are detrimental to fish and may cause substantial declines in fisheries production. Land use changes associated with the globalization have resulted in increased international trade and exchange of plant and animal materials. A concomitant rise in biological invasions (see chapter 1) characterizes many terrestrial biomes. For example, exotic species account up to 20% of plant materials on many islands (UNEP, 2007). Biological invasions such as those of Prosopis juliflora in Kenya are problematic because of adulteration of the gene pool of local plant materials arising from cross breeding. Invasive species are responsible for biodiversity erosion and loss due to allelopathy. Invasive plant species are usually superior competitors in the new ecosystems that they invade because they have no natural enemies. Biodiversity loss has strong underpinnings on economic loss as well as health induced losses as in the case of allelopathic species (see also section titled Ecosystem Function).

Human activities including crop agriculture, animal agriculture, agroforestry, ecotourism and many others influence material cycles (N, C, water cycle, phosphorous etc.). The water cycle is the medium for the transfer of material elements through the biotic and abiotic compartments of the ecosystem. Agro-technical practices in agriculture such as alley cropping, contour furrows, non-rain fed agriculture, application of fertilizers and use of insecticides to control vectors impact substantially the organic detritus food chain. Processes of humification and mineralization are dependent upon the quality and quantity of litter, species composition of soil micro-flora, soil moisture content, and soil temperature conditions. Since soil micro-climate and crop canopy architecture are subject to agro technical interventions, the rate of mobilization of critical chemicals and the pools and fluxes of materials and energy in the atmosphere-soil-vegetation compartments is a function of human and physical factors.

Industrial processing of agricultural and non-agricultural commodities heavily depends on fossil based fuels. Increased urbanization and industrialization in recent years has witnessed spiralling consumption of natural resources, increased demand of wood products for the building industry and rapidly diminishing forest cover. As a consequence, accumulation of carbon dioxide and other green house gases including carbon monoxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC11 and CFC12) continue to radically impact global climate change. CFCS react with ozone (O3) resulting in the depletion of the ozone layer. Ozone shields the earth from ultra violet radiation. Increasing depletion rates of ozone will enhance global warming and produce drastic effects on the atmosphere and ecosystems.

Energy Flow

Consumers get their energy from the carbon bonds made by the producers. The transfer of energy from sun to producer to primary consumer to secondary consumer to tertiary consumer can be shown in a food chain. A trophic level (feeding level) refers to the organism’s position in the food chain. Autotrophs (producers such as flowering plants) are at the base. Organisms that eat autotrophs are called herbivores or primary consumers (e.g. herbivorous invertebrates and vertebrates). An organism that eats herbivores is a carnivore (secondary consumer). Lions and sharks are common carnivores in tropical ecosystems. A carnivore which eats a carnivore which eats an herbivore is a tertiary consumer (e.g. eagles and foxes) and so on. Another way of showing the transfer of energy in an ecosystem is the energy pyramid (Figure 2.5). Energy pyramids show that the amount of available energy decreases down the food chain. It takes a large number of producers to support a small number of primary consumers and it takes a large number of primary consumers to support a small number of secondary consumers. Food webs are interconnected food chains and they show the feeding relationships among different populations in an ecosystem, see Figure 2.7.

“Pyramid of energy is a graphic representation of the amount of energy trapped per unit time and area in different trophic levels of a food chain with producers forming the base and the top carnivores at the tip”. Energy “flows” through the ecosystem in the form of carbon-carbon bonds. When respiration occurs, the carbon-carbon bonds are broken and the carbon is combined with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. This process releases the energy, which is either used by the organism for metabolism and other bodily functions or the energy may be lost as heat. All energy comes from the sun, and that the ultimate fate of all energy in ecosystems is to be lost as heat, hence does not recycle. Figure 2.5 shows that energy transfer diminishes with subsequent transfer along the trophic levels. These entropic losses have important implications on livestock production systems based on grazing systems. Because of low energy transfer efficiencies, the fundamental ecological dilemma in grazing ecosystems such as African savannas is the inability to maximize energy capture by plants and efficient energy harvest by grazing animals.


Figure 2.5: Pyramid of Energy

Source: (2008)

Although severe grazing makes possible efficient harvest of primary production, reduced photosynthetic surface area minimises subsequent energy harvest. Similarly, light grazing maximizes primary production. However, large energy pools from ungrazed biomass is diverted into the decomposer compartment. The challenge in grazing management, therefore, is to formulate grazing management strategies based on our understanding of ecological principles in relation to energy flows that optimise the use of grazing resources without compromising the ability of grazing ecosystems to continue to produce primary production on a sustainable yield basis.

Nutrient Cycling

Nutrient cycling is the movement of chemical elements from the inorganic form into living organisms and then the return of these elements back into inorganic forms through metabolism or death and decomposition. Nutrient cycling in the ecosystem is also referred to as biogeochemical cycling because it involves movements of chemicals through the biological and geological components of the ecosystem. Each chemical has its own unique cycle, but all of the cycles have common features. Reservoirs such as oceans are those parts of the cycle where the chemical is held in large quantities for long periods of time. On the other hand, in exchange pools such as the atmosphere, the chemical is held for relatively shorter time periods. Figure 2.6 depicts the present carbon cycle and shows the dynamics of carbon exchange between the atmospheric and oceanic reservoirs. The length of time a chemical is held in an exchange pool or a reservoir is termed its residence time. The oceans are a reservoir for water, while a cloud is an exchange pool. Water may reside in an ocean for thousands of years, but in a cloud, for a few days at best. The biotic community may serve as an exchange pool (although for some chemicals like carbon, bound in a sequoia for a thousand years, it may seem more like a reservoir), and also serve to move chemicals from one stage of the cycle to another. For instance, the trees of the tropical rain forest bring water up from the forest floor to be evaporated into the atmosphere. Likewise, coral endosymbionts take carbon from the water and turn it into limestone rock. The energy for most of the transportation of chemicals from one place to another is provided either by the sun or by the heat released from the mantle and core of the earth (McShaffrey, 2006).

The global carbon cycle shows the carbon reservoirs in GtC (1 gigatonne = one thousand million tonnes) and fluxes in GtC/year. The indicated figures are annual averages over the period 1980 to 1989. The component cycles are simplified and the figures present average values. Evidence is accumulating that many of the fluxes can fluctuate significantly from year to year. In contrast to the static view conveyed in figures like this one, the carbon system is dynamic and coupled to the climate system on seasonal, interannual and decadal timescales. It is instructive to note that land use changes including alterations of natural plant cover giving rise to changes in carbon sinks (carbon reservoirs) account for between 0.5 GtC and 1.5 GtC. Combustion of fossil based fuel to generate energy for domestic and industrial use is responsible for up to 5.5 GtC on a global scale.

The biogeochemical cycles of all elements used by life have both an organic and an inorganic phase. For most of these nutrients, how efficiently these elements cycle from the organic component back to the inorganic reservoirs determines how much is available to organisms over the short term. This cycling involves the decomposition of organic matter back into inorganic nutrients. The major reservoirs for all metabolically important elements are found either in the atmosphere, lithosphere (mainly rock, soil and other weathered sediments) or hydrosphere. Flow from these reservoirs to the organic phase is generally slower than the cycling of nutrients through organic matter decomposition (Pidwirny, 2006).

Macronutrients that constitute more than 1% each of dry weight of organisms include carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Macronutrients that constitute 0.2 to 1% of dry organic weight include sulphur, chlorine, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper. Micronutrients such as boron, bromine, cobalt, selenium and zinc are needed in trace amounts and constitute less than 0.2% of dry organic matter (Pidwirny, 2006).


Figure 2.6: Dynamics of Carbon Exchange Involving the Atmospheric and Oceanic Compartments of the Ecosphere

Source: Centre for Climate Research, Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin at Madison; Okanagan University College in Canada, Department of Geography; Woods Watch, November-December 1998; Climate Change 1995, The science of climate change, contribution of working group 1 to the second assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, UNEP and WMO, Cambridge Press University, 1995

Grazing animals impact grassland ecosystems by influencing energy flows and nutrient cycles through alterations of plant canopy architecture, leaf surface area available for energy capture, water interception and nutrient availability. Nutrient availability in turn governs the efficiency of energy acquisition and processing. Grazing transfers nutrients from plants to herbivores and decomposers and affects the rate of nutrient conversion from organic to inorganic forms. Transfer of plant materials to the animal body is occasioned by chewing, ingestion and rumination. The animal body provides a favourable environment (temperature and rumen micro flora) for microbial activity. Faecal matter and urea deposited by herbivores constitute sources of nitrogen, potassium, magnesium and sulphur that become readily available for plant absorption.

Ungrazed plant material and faecal matter are sources of bound nutrients that become available through mineralisation by decomposer microorganisms prior to absorption. Nutrients that are incorporated directly into primary production are readily available for reabsorption when transferred through the grazing food chain than directly into the decomposer compartment. Research evidence from grazing ecosystems indicates that higher nutrient concentrations occur in grazed than ungrazed ecosystems (Cid et al., 1990). This finding authenticates the role of herbivory in accelerating rates of nutrient cycling. It is clear that an understanding of the role of herbivores in nutrient dynamics (nutrient cycling) is essential in the formulation of natural resources management interventions that would favour maintenance of favourable nutrient budgets for plant growth and animal production.


Figure 2.7: An Example of a Simplified Food Web Showing Interlinked Food Chains

Food chains represent linear linkages in the trophic levels of living organisms. A simple food chain would show linear transfer of energy from a producer such as a savanna shrub to an herbivore such as an insect (Figure 2.7). An insect may later be consumed by a lizard and the latter by other consumers along the food chain. Energy transfer along food chains involves energy transformation with consequent energy loss since energy transformation efficiency is not 100% in accordance to the second law of thermodynamics. These entropic losses in the chain result in energy decrease from the base of the chain to the top. Energy transfer from one organism to the next is about 10% to 20%. This means that anything between 80% and 90% is lost in the form of metabolic heat. Food webs represent interlinked food chains.

In grazing systems, energy transfer efficiencies have important implications on primary productivity and livestock performance. Transfer of energy in grazing systems occurs through the grazing food chain. Similarly, energy is transferred from the grazing to the detrital food chain. Biotic constraints such as inefficiencies in energy capture and inefficient transfer of organic matter (gases, faecal losses and urinary losses) place limitations on the energy required for internal maintenance of livestock. Entropic losses mean that animals utilize a large portion of the total energy ingested for basal metabolism thereby diminishing the amount of energy available for growth or transfer to subsequent feeding levels within the system.

Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen is one of the most important elements in life because it is a constituent of amino acids, proteins, enzymes and genetic molecules and thus its cycle is presented here as an example of a nutrient cycle, as described by McShaffrey (2006).

The chief reservoir of nitrogen is the atmosphere, which is about 78% nitrogen. Nitrogen gas (N2) in the atmosphere is composed of two nitrogen atoms bound to each other. It is a relatively non-reactive gas. Nitrogen gas can be taken from the atmosphere (fixed) in two basic ways. First, lightning provides enough energy to “burn” the nitrogen and fix it in the form of nitrate (NO3 -). This process is duplicated in fertilizer factories to produce nitrogen fertilizers. The other form of nitrogen fixation is by nitrogen fixing bacteria, which use special enzymes instead of the extreme amount of energy found in lightning to fix nitrogen. These nitrogen-fixing bacteria come in three forms: some are free-living in the soil; some form symbiotic, mutualistic associations with the roots of bean plants and other legumes (rhizobial bacteria); and the third form of nitrogen-fixing bacteria are the photosynthetic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) which are found most commonly in water. All of these fix nitrogen, either in the form of nitrate or in the form of ammonia (NH4+).

Most plants can take up nitrate and convert it to amino acids. Animals acquire all of their amino acids when they eat plants (or other animals). When plants or animals die (or release waste) the nitrogen is returned to the soil. The usual form of nitrogen returned to the soil in animal wastes or in the output of the decomposers, is ammonia. Ammonia can be taken up by nitrite bacteria in the soil and in the water and converted to nitrite (NO2). Nitrite is converted by nitrate bacteria to nitrate which can be taken up by plants to continue the cycle (Figure 2.8).

Besides its important role in the living organism, nitrogen can have negative effects on the ecosystem where there are imbalances. Excess nitrate and nitrite can be leached and washed away into water bodies where it can cause eutrophication and health problems in human beings. Denitrification is a process in which organic nitrogen compounds such as fertilizers are decomposed and gaseous nitrogen (N2 and N20) is released. N2 0 is a greenhouse gas associated with climate change.


Figure 2.8: The Nitrogen Cycle

Source: After Mcshaffrey, 2006

Ecosystem Hierarchies

Ecological systems are complex and are organized in hierarchies. A hierarchy is a graded series with several levels of organization, or a series of ordered groupings within a system. Examples of hierarchies are: cell, organ, organism, population, community, ecosystem, landscape, and species, genera, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom. All levels within a hierarchy such as the cell or organism are definable in time and space. No single level in the hierarchy is fundamental and each level of the hierarchy has characteristic functions that contribute to the functioning of the whole hierarchy. Interaction occurs among the different components and within different organisms.

These ecological hierarchies are important because when we study ecosystems, we need to understand the behaviour of the system at a specified level of the hierarchy and ascertain properties of the ecosystem emerging at that given level (Figure 2.9). Since ecological hierarchies constitute different levels of complexity of biological organization, an understanding of the functional, interactive and integrative role at different levels is critical in predicting the consequences of management impacts on system level compartments in relation to the integrated life support system.


Figure 2.9: Scale and Cross Scale Interactions in Human and Ecological Systems

Source: MA 2005


A population is a group of interbreeding, or, potentially interbreeding organisms of the same species occupying a particular space at the same time. A population grows by adding new members through reproduction and immigration. The difference between gains and losses is the rate of population growth. Defining individuals within a population is not always an easy task. Mammals, birds, reptiles and insects are easier to define because they are unitary organisms which have determinate growth i.e. each individual has a pre-determined number of components (a lion has 1 head, 2 eyes, 4 legs). Definition of individuals is less clear for modular organisms which have indeterminate growth i.e. organisms that have the genetic potential to grow and branch such as many marine invertebrates, many plants and filamentous fungi, grasses and trees.

A metapopulation is a set of local populations which interact via individuals moving among them. A metapopulation can be considered as a population of populations. It is an abstraction of the population concept to a higher level. The metapopulation scale is the scale at which individuals infrequently move from one place or population to the next. Movement is typically across habitat types which are not suitable for their feeding and breeding activities and often with substantial risk of failing to locate another suitable habitat in which to settle. Any local population has its own dynamics independent of dynamics of other local populations. Population’s changes are a consequence of biotic-biotic interactions and biotic-abiotic feedbacks. For example, the migratory spectacle associated with the wildebeest in East Africa across the savanna often through a number of migratory corridors is of great ecological significance in relation to trophic dynamics, population regulation factors and management.


A community may be defined as an assemblage of different populations which occur together in space and time or, a group of organisms of different species occupying the same area. The focus of community ecology is the manner in which this grouping of species are distributed in nature and how they interact among themselves and with their environment. Plants and animals of a woodland or forest community tend to be stratified i.e., formed in layers, both vertically and horizontally. For instance, a forest may consist of a tall tree layer, a shrub layer and a lower herbaceous layer with ground dwelling insects and birds of the upper tree layers. In most communities, one or a few species become the most influential because of their numbers, size or activities. These species are known as the dominant species of the community. Keystone species are those whose presence is critical to the integrity of the community. Examples are predator species that control the structure of the community by preying on species of similar habitats, thereby reducing their competitive interactions. If the predator is removed, the less competitive prey species disappear and one becomes dominant.

Communities form patterns in space, whereby they vary in composition, structure, diversity and other characteristics as changes occur in the environment. Gradual environmental changes tend to produce gradual transitions from community to community while abrupt environmental change results in an abrupt community change. Communities also exhibit temporal change through time due to the interaction of many physical factors of the environment as well as biological interactions.

Communities are highly organized assemblages of co-evolved species. Each species is competitively superior in its own niche in the habitat. Competitive interactions among these species maintain a state of equilibrium and diversity without continual change in species composition. After a disturbance, the species eventually re-occupy their former positions; the community arrives again at equilibrium or some degree of stability. Although equilibrium theory has long dominated ecological thought, ecological communities seldom attain equilibrium. Disruptions are common, preventing species assemblages from reaching any highly ordered state. Contrary to the equilibrium theory, communities exist at some level of disequilibrium, held in state by environmental disturbances.


A landscape may be defined as a heterogeneous land area consisting of a cluster of interacting components repeated in a similar format throughout. A landscape has the following characteristics: a cluster of ecosystems, flows or interactions among the ecosystems of such a cluster and disturbance regimes in such a cluster. Landscape ecology is the study of the structure, function and change in a heterogeneous landscape composed of interacting ecosystems. The primary focus of landscape ecology is on the structure or the spatial relationship among distinctive ecosystems and the distribution of energy, materials and species in relation to the sizes, shapes, numbers, kinds, and configuration of ecosystems; function or interactions among the spatial elements i.e., the flow of energy, materials, and species among the component ecosystems; and, change or alteration in the structure and function of the ecosystem over time.

Landscape ecology is important in natural resource management because, for instance, wild animals generally occupy landscapes, often moving from one ecosystem to the other. We need to be aware of the connectivity and interactions among these ecosystems. It is, therefore, not enough to consider only the ecosystem level but also how those ecosystems in a landscape are related. This inevitably affects how we select wildlife species and wildlife management strategies.


A biome is a recognizable plant and animal community that is determined primarily by global climatic patterns, or a broad ecological unit that represents major life zones extending over large natural areas. Within each biome, other environmental factors like soil type, herbivory and fire determine the recognizable sub-classifications. Biomes or ecoregions are used to describe the general ecosystem types at the global levels. Many classifications are used for this description such as Whittaker (1975). The Whittaker classification (Figure 2.10) is based on mean annual precipitation and mean annual temperature. In view of the vastness of biomes, it has been possible to use geospatial technologies in defining macro ecological and multi scale level indicators of ecosystem productivity related to natural resource management.

“Panarchy”: Multiple Scales and Cross-Scale Dynamics

One of the fundamental principles of complex systems is that they are nested in hierarchies across different scales. No system can be understood or managed by focusing on it at a single scale. All systems exist and function at multiple scales of space, time and social organization, and the interactions across scales are fundamentally important in determining the dynamics of the system at any particular focal scale. This interacting set of hierarchically structured, dynamic and nested scales has been termed “panarchy” (Gunderson and Holling, 2002).

The term “parnachy” is an antithesis to the concept of ecosystems hierarchy as a series of ordered and distinct groupings of a system. Parnachy is based on the notion of hierarchies of influences between embedded scales to represent structures that allow adaptive evolution (Holling et al., 2002). Panarchy theories present the notion that there is a connection between different levels, and that there are potentially multiple connections between phases at one level and phases at another level. The concept of panarchy provides a useful framework for understanding how these nested systems interact, and that disturbance at one scale has an influence on other scales. For example, the feedback loops that regulate a wetlands ecosystem are dependent also on the inputs of water and nutrients from outside the system, and on the economic and political systems that influence human migration and agricultural colonization on the periphery of the wetlands. All of these systems at different scales operate on similar principles (growth, conservation, release and reorganization), but often over much different time frames.


Ecosystem Pattern

Repeated patterns emerge at varying scales of the ecosystems. Ecosystem pattern is determined by the abiotic variations such as soil type and depth and precipitation. These variations in the abiotic environment give rise to a differentiation in processes such as primary production. Climate largely determines the plant and animal communities that can thrive in a region. Within regions of similar climate, further differentiation in spatial pattern arises from the local abiotic and biotic characteristics such as soil depth, soil pH, slope and levels of herbivory. Understanding the processes that lead to different spatial patterns is important for understanding their dynamics and how they respond to management.

A possible way to describe the factors which are thought to control eco-climatic units, and the scale at which they operate, is described by Bailey (1987). Macroclimate accounts for the largest share of systematic environmental variation on the macroscale or regional level. On the mesoscale, the broad patterns are broken up by geology and topography (landform). At the macroscale, the ecosystem patterns are controlled by latitude (irregular solar energy), distance from the sea (continentality or oceanic influences), or elevation. Each eco-climatic zone is clearly defined by a particular type of climatic regime and, with a few exceptions; the zones largely correspond to zonal soil types and climatic climax vegetation. These zones are reflective of those major ecosystems that bio geographers have traditionally recognized as biomes (Whittaker, 1975).

There are many applications of the study of ecosystem patterns, such as research and management. Ecosystem analysis must be performed at multiple levels. The significance of multi-level analysis is that local systems or sites are seen within the context of the larger system. This perspective can be applied in assessing the connections between action at one scale and effect at another. For example, logging on upper slopes of an ecological unit may affect downstream riparian habitats. A lake’s ecosystem is related to the ecosystem of the stream that feeds it, and the stream’s ecosystem is related to the forested mountain side through which it runs.

Landscapes function differently as a whole than would have been predicted by analysis of the individual elements (Marston, 2008). The relationship between systems at different scales must be examined in order to analyze the effects of management. Since management occurs at varying levels from national to site-specific, a hierarchical system of units, defined according to criteria that make them relevant to the kinds of questions being asked at different levels of management decisions, is needed (Bailey, 1987).

Ecosystem Dynamics

Ecosystem dynamics refer to changes within and between ecosystem components as a consequence of the interactions involving abiotic and biotic components. These changes are associated with qualitative and quantitative variations in energy flows and material fluxes. Ecosystem dynamics is the product of exchange processes involving the interactions between abiotic and biotic components of the environmental-life-support system. The rates of ecosystem processes are constantly changing due to variations in environmental conditions and organismic activities on time scales ranging from a few micro seconds as in the case of light capture by chlorophyll pigments in photosynthesis in response to light energy fluctuations incident upon a leaf to many hundreds of years associated with global climate change. CO2 fixation rates into organic food molecules in green plants change over time scales of seconds to decades due to variations associated with light, temperature, and leaf area (Chapin et al., 1996).

Many factors control ecosystem dynamics. The host of factors that control population dynamics of organisms in ecosystems may be studied in homogeneous physical entities of a lake, a stream, forest ecosystem or even an agricultural ecosystem. These studies or measurements may be done at different scales. For example, local, regional or continental measurements of the spatial variability of green house gases in the atmosphere may require careful long-term measurements in order to ascertain long-term trends and their impacts. Spatial variability of CO2 due to differential production and global atmospheric exchange may be monitored globally over time in order to obtain estimates of CO2 fluxes involving the soil-plant-atmosphere system. Local CO2 exchanges involving the air-vegetation-soil compartments at the level of a water catchment may exhibit spatial and temporal variations depending upon the sources and sinks of CO2 and the intensity of vertical exchange processes.

Ecosystem dynamics affect ecosystem structure and function. For instance, the coupling of heat energy and water budgets in the brown belt has significant implications on metabolic transformations associated with synthesis of organic materials in photosynthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, protein metabolism, organic material decomposition rates etc. Systems approaches have opened new frontiers in studies of ecosystem dynamics. For example, large scale terrestrial ecosystem processes affect the atmosphere and oceans. Evapotranspiration from terrestrial vegetation contributes significantly to the total water vapour pool in the atmosphere. Water vapour influences heat exchange processes in the atmosphere and impacts the water cycle as well. Since elemental fluxes between and within ecosystem compartments take place partly through the water cycle, a general understanding of these ecosystem processes and the factors that influence them is of vital importance. The scale of ecosystem effects must be studied by advanced tools that capture the spatial and temporal scales. The application of geospatial technologies based on satellite remote sensing of ecosystem properties, global networks of atmospheric sampling sites and development of global models must replace traditional ecosystem tools of systems analysis. The dynamics of CO2 on a global scale and other green house gases in the atmosphere can be addressed by use of geospatial technologies such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Ecosystem Integrity

Ecosystem integrity, albeit a useful concept, in sustainable natural resources management, poses a number of problems that science has yet to resolve. The concept is vague and often does not incorporate the dynamic view of ecosystems. Ecosystem integrity is a complex issue. A single indicator may not provide an operational definition. Integrity presupposes “unimpaired state”, the quality or condition of being “whole” or “complete”. However, managed ecosystems are always subject to disturbances arising from anthropogenic and abiotic effects. These effects impair the ecosystem and reduce its resilience.

The organization of ecosystems into structural and functional components, that is, species, populations, and communities of organisms which process energy and recycle critical chemicals for the production of goods and services, means that operational definitions of integrity must include the maintenance of community structure and function considered desirable to society (Cairns, 1977). This definition underscores the significance of the human perspective in the sense that the system must be able to provide goods and services desirable to humans. Other operational definitions such as those of Karr and Dudley (1981) emphasize the capability of an ecosystem to support and maintain a balanced, integrated, adaptive community of organisms having species composition, diversity and functional organization comparable to that of natural habitats in an area.

In spite of the criticism against vagueness of the concept of ecosystem integrity in relation to operational definitions and tractability to quantification, it is instructive to characterize in detail the structural and functional aspects of ecosystems that would provide a conceptual framework for evaluating the impact of human activities on biological systems.

Reductionist and Holistic Approaches

Reductionist and holistic approaches are different perspectives of studying the behaviour of ecosystems and implications in the selection of strategies for management. Reductionist approaches emphasize the structural aspects of natural ecosystems and focus on individual species and population dynamics of species within isolated ecosystems. On the other hand, holistic approaches focus on macro level functional aspects such as energy flows, nutrient cycles and productivity, often ignoring the effects of past disturbances on the performance of the ecosystem and micro level organization and spatial and temporal distribution of organisms.

Although the functional and structural perspectives of ecosystems are not mutually exclusive, they have provided the premises upon which many branches of ecological theories have flourished. Of interest is that they have provided the basis for different definitions of ecosystem integrity.

Adherence to the structural composition of ecosystems leads to the definition in which damage of the link between species components or loss of species implies loss of ecosystem integrity because the ecosystem is no longer “complete” or “whole” (De Leo and Levin, 1997). However, it may be argued that on the basis of functional integrity, redundancies within functional groups make species composition less relevant. Either definitions or their combinations have merit; their relevancy is a function of the manner in which ecosystem goods or services are viewed. Structural and functional dimensions of ecosystems are linked. Ecosystem goods and services are the product of macroscopic properties which are resilient to changes in structure over short time scales. Systems may be able to preserve macro level functions such as productivity even under circumstances of high levels of disturbance engendering substantial changes in structure with no appreciable change in some macro level indicators.

According to De Leo and Levin (1997), a change in ecosystem structure that does not appreciably change the qualitative and quantitative functional aspects should be considered as a minor loss of integrity. This view, however, does not embrace the fact that loss of diversity within functional groups may reduce the resilience of the system over longer time scales.

It is apparent that structuralism or functionalism may not be conceptually adequate in providing an operational definition of ecosystem integrity; however, the plausibility of both occurs within some boundaries. Assessments of ecosystem integrity based on some macro level indicators such as productivity, energy flows or nutrient cycling may obscure the macroscopic properties that finally determine the resilience and stability of the ecosystem to perturbations. Natural resource management options based on structuralism or functionalism approaches represent inflexion points in a multidimensional continuum in which a variety of measures of differing resolution of detail may be applied (De Leo and Levin, 1997).

Equilibrium vs Non-equilibrium Theories in Ecosystem Management

Scientific literature is replete with controversies on the efficacy of equilibrium versus disequilibrium theories in explanations of ecosystem dynamics (Reice, 1994; Chapin et al., 1996, De Leo and Levin, 1997). The proponents of equilibrium theory of ecosystem structure and function recognize that ecosystems reflect properties of closed systems characterized by internal recycling of elements, self regulation and deterministic dynamics and stable endpoints.

Equilibrium and non-equilibrium theories originated from population and community ecology. These concepts have now crossed over and pervaded applications in resource economics, social and cultural anthropology, range ecology, land use policy and law and many others. In view of the “hybridization” and non-contextual usage of these concepts in a variety of disciplines, confusion in the interpretation of the meaning and management implications of research results characterises the literature in social and natural sciences (Behnke et al., 1993, Sullivan and Rohde, 2002).

Social scientists and natural scientists view people-environmental relations in different ways. For example, the concept of non-equilibrium dynamics may be used in social science to describe behaviour patterns and decision making in environmental contexts characterised by uncertainty such as African pastoral societies where pastoralist development (flexible movement of livestock), opportunism and responsive livelihood adaptation are central components of human-environment interactions. Similarly, in natural resources ecology, ecologists contend that natural systems are better understood if they were somehow separate from human intervention and perception. The relevance and significance of non-equilibrium models (that are quickly replacing range condition and trend concepts) provide insight into the evolution of savanna ecosystems subjected to a myriad of perturbations including stochastic events such as drought, fire, and management interventions over many centuries. It is, therefore, apparent that uncritical application of equilibrium and non-equilibrium concepts in the management of semi-arid and arid ecosystems would continue to fuel polarised debates and dilute the conceptual underpinnings of these theories (Sullivan and Rohde, 2002).

According to Wiens (1984 a, b), non-equilibrium systems are characterised by a general “decoupling” of close biotic interactions. For example, livestock populations may be tightly coupled to the availability of forage resources. This resource- consumer relations, however, is governed by abiotic conditions such as rainfall that determine the abundance of the forage resource that dictate herbivore-plant resource relations. In other words, abiotic factors and stochastic environmental events disturb populations in a manner that is independent of density dependent factors. Similarly, equilibrium systems are characterised by biotic coupling, density dependent relations (biotic-biotic and abiotic-biotic interactions) that disturb populations with consequences that result in rapid ecosystem resilience (ability of the system to return to its original state following disturbance).

In the context of the management of African pastoral landscapes, the application of the equilibrium and non-equilibrium models as defined is qualitatively distinct. For example, nomadic pastoralism characterised by flexibility in mobility and opportunistic decision options make the most of unpredictable non-equilibrium environments whereas conservative optimisation is the most appropriate land use option in equilibrium contexts.

Since equilibrium and non-equilibrium states represent opposite poles of a spectrum of system states, ecosystems from a conceptual standpoint exist across a continuum of transient states. Equilibrium or non-equilibrium states are subject to the scale of observation. In the long term, all phenomena tend toward a non-equilibrium state. This is a consequence of unpredictable events that effectively decouple system attributes and bring about system change. From a theoretical perspective, equilibrium dynamics associated with defined temporal and spatial scales are an explanatory ideal for problems far removed from broader temporal contexts. In other words, all biological systems are intrinsically non-equilibrium states with predictable and tightly coupled interactions occurring at certain scales of observation (Sullivan and Rohde, 2002).

Current developments in the science of ecosystem ecology support the significance of past disturbances and external forces in shaping the direction of ecosystem change. It is now recognized that most ecosystems are open systems with export and import channels for transfer of energy and recycling of material resources. The dynamics of open systems are influenced by internal and external impacts and subject to pervasive anthropogenic influence. This non-equilibrium perspective of open ecosystems demands a more dynamic and stochastic view of controls over ecosystem processes (Pickett and White, 1985, Chapin et al., 1996). Bormann and Likens (1979) contend that ecosystems may be considered to reflect steady states if exports and imports of energy and elemental fluxes show no indications of trends over time. Steady state assumptions are at variance with equilibrium postulations since they treat spatial and temporal variations as normal aspects of ecosystem dynamics.

Most African savannah ecosystems and forest ecosystems may be said to exhibit non-steady states due to disturbances caused by rainfall variability, fire, overgrazing, forest clearing, crop farming, logging etc. However, it is easier to understand the response behaviour of ecosystems in the absence of large past disturbances in order to appreciate the impacts of recent disturbances on ecosystem change. In the African savannas, the wet seasons representing the equilibrium end of the gradient, plant-herbivory relations (density dependent factors) are a primary factor influencing vegetation change in the short to medium terms. However, in the non-equilibrium end of the spectrum, plant- animal relations are qualitatively different. In times of abundance of resources, underutilisation is typical. During drought, there is no or little vegetation resources to support herbivory upon which great impacts may occur. Destocking becomes inevitable, removing surviving livestock to areas with abundant resources.

Managing and Mismanaging Ecosystems

Scientific literature is replete with bodies of knowledge on the theoretical foundations and practices on sustainable natural resource management. Strategies of ecosystem management to a certain extent dictate the achievement of sustainable NRM. However, context based political and sociological considerations generally override such efforts (Ludwig et al., 1993) and may influence the outcomes of ecosystem processes. Unregulated open-access resources such as fisheries can be both economically viable and ecologically inefficient in the context of energy transfer processes and material cycling. Effective ecosystem management regimes using integrated approaches can shift over-exploited resources from unacceptable bio-economic equilibria to more acceptable conditions. For water resources like Lake Victoria, clear normative methods can be implemented in the form of time, place, and catch controls/restrictions, total and allocated quotas, harvesting tool restrictions, and license limitation. Incentives schemes and alternative livelihoods are also known to shift the strain from an ecosystem, thus controlling mismanagement. Conversely, other regulation instruments may embody financial disincentives such as subsidy cuts and taxes, or royalties on effort and harvested biomass. The concept of payment for ecosystems services, CRS and Polluter Pays Principle (PPP) are emerging financial schemes aimed at reversing and avoiding ecosystems degradation.

Although the management of ecosystems is well researched, there are very few examples of ecosystems in which sustained exploitation has proved to be successful or degraded ecosystems have been reverted to their original pristine states. In sub-Saharan Africa and the world at large, renewable resources have been systematically overexploited causing biodiversity erosion and in extreme cases, extinction of valuable species has occurred. A number of factors contribute to the mismanagement of ecosystems. According to the UNEP (2007) report on an integrated environmental assessment using the Drivers-Pressures-States-Impact-Response (DPSIR) model, the antecedent factors underlying degradation of resources in Africa were embedded in the inherent complexity of biological communities and environmental stochasticity (De Leo and Levin, 1997). Sustainable ecosystem management requires meticulous implementation of adaptive methods of management that focus on the mutual interactive linkages between biological factors, economic factors and natural variability.

Ecosystem-based NRM even when included in an adaptive framework, has traditionally focused on relatively small scales of spatial and functional organization, ignoring the broader ecological and environmental context in which exploited resources are often, if not always, embedded. This approach ignores, to the detriment of the ecosystems, second-order, indirect, and sometimes irreversible impacts. Only first-order direct impacts have been targeted with the consequence of resource unbalanced exploitation. For instance, ecosystem management could be sustainable with respect to the commercial species, but may seriously threaten the viability of other components of the ecosystem. Community-based and ecosystem-level planning may be the most efficient way of avoiding such eventualities. Chapter three presents detailed insights into this.

Ecosystem Resilience

Ecosystem resilience describes the capacity of an ecosystem to cope with disturbances such as fire, herbivory, pollution, drought etc. without shifting into a qualitatively different state. In other words, resilience describes a measure of resistance to disturbance and the speed of return to the equilibrium state of the ecosystem. In a resilient ecosystem, the process of rebuilding after disturbance promotes rejuvenation and renewal. The loss of resilience in an ecosystem leads to vulnerability to disturbances that may bring about structural and functional changes.

For example, extreme defoliation pressure by herbivores may lead to the conversion of shrub lands into semi arid grasslands dominated by annual plants. The capacity to recover from specific stress factors is quantifiable and amenable to experimentation and scientific testing. Since natural ecosystems react to stress and adjust to changing environmental conditions, the degree of resilience can be measured and interpreted by an examination of trends. The response of an ecosystem to the intensity of induced stress can be evaluated in terms of the impact of stress on ecosystem change. The different perspectives of resilience are illustrated in Figure 2.11.


Figure 2.11a: Different Perspectives of Resilience

Source: Resillence Alliance (2007).

A resilience approach is much more challenging than a conventional conservation or productivity approach because:

There is not usually a stable equilibrium, so the notion of some desired “outcome state” or carrying capacity is not meaningful without extensive qualification.

• It can be difficult to tell if a system is resilient, even with careful observation, because there are not yet clear criteria, and even if there were, the slow processes that control systems can be hard to identify.

• Conventional “state” indicators and measures are inappropriate as guides to desirable ecosystem features: overall system characteristics and emergent properties (i.e. things you can’t see yet) are more important.

• Resilient systems respond well to small-scale disturbance because these generate renewal and opportunity while creating “memory” of adaptive response to broaden response repertoire. But most organizations have a hard time seeing the need to “generate disturbance” (typically see their role as avoiding disturbance).

It is important to recognize that change is the normal state of complex systems, although sometimes it proceeds quickly and other times slowly. As external conditions change, the system reacts to the changes. Some variables change quickly (e.g. stream flow after heavy rain). Others change much more slowly (groundwater recharge or lake levels, fish population in the lake). In general, “slow variables” affect broad spatial scales and / or operate over long time periods. Typically, the crucial defining features of an ecological system (its species structure, its function, the kinds of goods and services it provides to humans) are sensitive to one or more of these slow variables. Systems proceed through four predictable phases that can be characterized as: growth (r) phase; conservation (K) phase; release (omega) and reorganization (alpha) (Figure 2.12).


Figure 2.11b: Adaptive Cycle Stages

Source: Holling, et al. (2002)..

Resilient ecosystems buffer the environmental life support systems from effects of erosion, sequestration of carbon and nitrogen, regulate hydrological conditions and mitigate effects of floods, in addition to providing ecosystem services such as maintaining CO2 –O2 equilibrium conditions and supporting decomposer micro organisms that drive the organic-detritus-food chain. Anthropogenic induced loss of resilience can make an ecosystem susceptible to random effects of drought or fire that the system could have potentially coped with. Ecosystems with low resilience may continue to produce goods and services until the impact of a disturbance causes them to exceed a critical threshold. When the critical threshold is reached, even a minor disturbance can cause a shift to a less desirable state that may be difficult and even expensive to reverse.

There is need to increase resilience of ecosystems considerably if we have to cope with global catastrophes such as climate change. Natural catastrophes have become more common due to a combination of anthropogenic induced disturbance patterns in nature and diminishing resilience of ecosystems. Resilient ecosystems reflect functional redundancy particularly if there are many species performing the same essential functions (such as photosynthesis or respiration) and if species within such “functional groups” do not respond in the same way to disturbances. Species functional redundancy serves to replace or compensate for each other in times of disturbances.

There are three defining characteristics that relate to resilience as applied to ecosystems, or to integrated systems of people and the natural environment:

• The amount of change the system can undergo and still retain the same controls on function and structure;

• The degree to which the system is capable of self-organization;

• The ability to build and increase the capacity for learning and adaptation.

Social resilience is the ability of human communities to withstand and recover from stresses, such as environmental change or social, economic or political upheaval. In other words, social resilience is the ability of groups or communities to adapt in the face of external social, political or environmental stresses and disturbances (Adger, 2000). Three general characteristics of social systems may need to be present to enable societies to be resilient, notably: the ability to buffer disturbance, the capability to self-organise and the capacity for learning and adaptation (Carpenter et al., 2001; Trosper, 2002).

Adaptive Management

The essential feature of a social-ecological system is a multi-scale pattern (both spatial and temporal) of resource use around which humans have organised themselves in a particular social structure (distribution of people, resource management, consumption patterns, and associated norms and rules). The aim of adaptive management is to keep the system within a particular configuration of states that will continue to deliver desired levels of ecosystem goods and services, and to either prevent the system from moving into un-desirable configurations from which it is either difficult or impossible to recover, or move from a less desirable to a more desirable configuration.

The concept of Adaptive Management has drawn particular attention in natural resource management since Holling’s 1987 seminal publications on Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management, and the subsequent publication of Adaptive Management of Renewable Resources (Walters, 1986). Adaptive management not only pursues the goal of greater ecological stability, but also that of more flexible institutions for resource management (Walters, 1986; Holling, 1978). Adaptive co-management systems are flexible community-based systems of resource management tailored to specific places and situations and supported by, and working with, various organizations at different levels. Folke et al., 2002 p. 20 define adaptive co-management as a process by which institutional arrangements and ecological knowledge are tested and revised in a dynamic, ongoing, self-organized process of learning-by-doing. This is – learning-by-doing – therefore recommended when scientific knowledge is limited while communities and stakeholder groups have high leverage or power to manage their resources. It is different from crisis management or a command and control approach that excludes stakeholders groups and follows a schematic cyclical process (Figure 2.12).


Figure 2.12: Schematic Representations of the Cyclical Steps of Adaptive Management for Natural Resource

Adaptive management is an approach to management of natural resources that emphasizes how little is known about the dynamics of ecosystems and that as more is learned management will evolve and improve. Ecosystems are very complex and dynamic, and human observations about natural processes are fragmentary and inaccurate. As a result, the best way to use the available resources in a sustainable manner calls constant learning and changing of strategies. Ecosystem management demands application of Adaptive Management (AM), also known as Adaptive Resource Management (ARM), which simply refers to a structured, iterative process of optimal decision making in the face of uncertainty, with an aim to reducing uncertainty over time via system monitoring. It allows making simultaneous decisions that maximize one or more MRM objectives and accumulates new information for the improvement of future management. AM is heavily characterized by “learning by doing.” Adaptive management proceeds through key steps:

i). Assessment of the problem;

ii). Formal design of a management and monitoring programme;

iii). Implementation of the programme in an ecosystem;

iv). Evaluation and adjustment.

Adaptive management requires the integration of multidisciplinary scientific knowledge and structuring of formal dynamic models to predict decision outcomes. It also requires integrating conservation and development approaches by including collaborative resource management that would appear to be central to reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience thus improving the well-being of those societies and ecosystems dependent on natural resources.


Biodiversity is crucial in ecosystem resilience in the sense that it provides “insurance”, spreads risks and promotes ecosystem renewal and re-organization after disturbance. Biodiversity plays a crucial role in ecosystem resilience by spreading risks, providing “insurance”, and making it possible for ecosystems to reorganise after disturbance. Ecosystems seem to be particularly resilient if there are many species performing the same essential function (such as photosynthesis or decomposition) and if species within such “functional groups” respond in different ways to disturbances. Then, species can replace or compensate for each other in times of disturbance. When humans reduce biodiversity or favour monocultures, ecosystems tend to become vulnerable. It is argued by many ecologists that resilience is the key to biodiversity conservation and that diversity itself enhances resilience, stability and ecosystem functioning (Schulze and Mooney, 1993; Mooney and Ehrlich, 1997; Tilman, 1997). Ecological economists also argue that resilience is the key to sustainability in the wider sense (e.g., Trosper, 2002; Folke et al., 2002).

In Africa, terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity resources are an important life support system for millions of people. Direct and indirect values of African biodiversity systems include sources of energy (wood fuel), food, medicine, fibre and provide a broad array of other uses. For example, indirect uses of forests in Africa will continue to service important tangible and intangible obligations such as protecting catchments, regulating river regimes, purification of water, preventing soil erosion, provision of shade, meeting places, aesthetic values, symbolic values and many others. This section provides an overview of biodiversity concepts, sketch the potential natural resource endowments of forest and grassland biodiversity and expose salient biodiversity trends.

Biodiversity is the sum of the variety of the life forms consisting of genes, species, and ecosystems of an area. In the context of this definition, biological variety occurs at three levels, that is, genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity. In 1992, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity defined “biological diversity” as the variability among living organisms from all sources including ‘inter alia’ terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part. This includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Ecosystem Diversity - Ecosystem diversity may be defined as the variety of habitat types including forests, grasslands, wetlands, etc.

Species Diversity - Species diversity is the totality of different species of plants, animals and micro organisms in an area.

Table 2.2: Examples of Biodiversity Effects on Ecosystems

Ecosystem Services

Diversity components and mechanisms

1. Production by societally important plants

Functional composition:

(a) fast-growing species produce more biomass;

(b) species differ in timing and spatial pattern of resource use (complementarity allows more resources to be used) Species number: large species pool is more likely to contain productive species

2. Stability of crop production

Genetic diversity: buffers production against losses to pests and environmental variability.

Species number: Cultivation of multiple species in the same plot maintains high production over a broader range of conditions. Functional composition: species differ in their response to environment and disturbance, stabilizing production.

3. Maintenance of soil resources

Functional composition:

(a) fast-growing species enhance soil fertility;

(b) dense root systems prevent soil erosion.

4. Regulation of water quantity and quality

Landscape diversity: Intact riparian corridors reduce erosion. Functional composition: Fast-growing plants have high transpiration rates, reducing stream flow.

5. Pollination for food production and species survival

Functional composition: Loss of specialized pollinators reduces fruit set and diversity of plants that reproduce successfully. Species number: Loss of pollinator species reduces the diversity of plants that successfully reproduce (genetic impoverishment). Landscape diversity: Large, well-connected landscape units enable pollinators to facilitate gene flow among habitat patches.

6. Resistance to invasive species with negative ecological / cultural effects

Functional composition: Some competitive species resist the invasion of exotic species.

Landscape structure: Roads can serve as corridors for spread of invasive species; natural habitat patches can resist spread. Species number: Species-rich communities are likely to have less unused resources and more competitive species to resist invaders.

7. Pest and disease control

Genetic diversity or species number: Reduces density of suitable hosts for specialized pests and diseases.

Landscape diversity: Provides habitat for natural enemies of pests.

8. Biophysical climate regulation

Functional composition: Determines water and energy exchange, thus influencing local air temperature and circulation patterns.

Landscape structure: Influences convective movement of air masses and therefore local temperature and precipitation.

9. Climate regulation by carbon sequestrations

Landscape structure: Fragmented landscapes have greater edge-to-area ratio; edges have greater carbon loss.

Functional composition: Small, short-lived plants store less carbon Species number: High species number reduces pest outbreaks that cause carbon loss.

10. Protection against natural hazards (e.g., floods, hurricanes, fires)

Landscape structure: Influences disturbance spread and/or protection against natural hazards.

Functional composition:

(a) extensive root systems prevent erosion and uprooting;

(b) deciduous species are less flammable than evergreens

Source: Adapted from Chapin et al., (2009)

Genetic Diversity - Genetic diversity is the variation of genes within a species and genetic variation within and between populations.

Forest and Woodlands Ecosystem Biodiversity - Forest and woodlands ecosystems vary from one ecosystem to another in relation to structural complexity and functionality. Structural and functional complexity depends on climatic characteristics, nutrient cycling regimes and water budgets. Latitudinal and altitudinal gradients in forest and woodland ecosystems reflect the effects of abiotic and biotic interactions. These effects are responsible for differences in vertical and horizontal aggregation of plant species, spatial cover, species frequency, density and plant species richness.

Forest Ecosystem Endowment and Opportunities

The forest resource in Africa accounts for 6% of the Gross National Product (GNP), the highest in the world (NEPAD, 2003). In Western and Central Africa, the contribution of the forest sector through export of forest products is 60% of GDP (FAO, 2003b). In Uganda, forests and woodlands contribute in excess of US $546.6 million to the national economy (Emerton and Muramira, 1999). Forest woods such as wood fuel, timber, and non- timber products including ecotourism, crafts industry, traditional medicine and pharmaceutical products have been recognized as economic assets for possible linkages in NEPAD partnerships for realizing long term social and economic goals and in addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Forest and woodland systems may have a variety of tree forms shrubs and under storey species. These structural components provide a habitat for a variety of microorganisms that drive the organic-detritus-food chain and support small animals and plants in the forest floor, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Insect- pollinator and bird-pollinator mutualisms link plants with specific insects and birds. Nutrient cycling and energy flows in forest ecosystems are complex processes that provide a life-support system that constitutes the basis for the production of goods and ecosystem services.

In Africa, forests and woodlands occupy 21.8% of the continental landmass. This represents approximately 650 million hectares (FAO, 2005). Forest and woodland distribution varies from one sub region to another. The Central African region (Congo Basin) constitutes the second largest continuous block of tropical rainforest in the world. The northern region of Africa has the least forest cover due to below average rainfall conditions which cannot support continuous forest cover. Figure 2.13 illustrates the extent of forest cover in Africa.

The African forests may be classified into the following categories (FAO, 2003a)

• Tropical rain forests;

• Tropical moist forests;

• Tropical dry forests;

• Tropical shrubs;

• Tropical mountain forests;

• Sub tropical humid forests;

• Sub tropical dry forests;

• Sub tropical mountain forests;

• Plantation forests.


Figure 2.13: Forest Cover in Africa

Source: UNEP (2006)

Grassland Ecosystem Biodiversity

Grassland ecosystems in Africa are found in the bimodal rainfall areas characterised by wet-dry cycles. The grassland sub regions include sudano-sahelian zone in North Africa and northern parts of western regions of Africa. Natural grassland areas in Africa are non-existent. The grassland ecosystems in Africa represent succession sub climaxes due to interactive controls of fire, herbivory, climate, and soils. Grasslands consist of a variety of tropical grass species, forbs and herbs. The grasslands of Eastern and Central Africa are famous for their rich ungulate fauna including zebras, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, oryx and carnivorous animals such as the lion and a variety of small herbivores. A variety of birds and insects occur in this ecosystem. The grasslands of Africa support large populations of domestic livestock as well as wildlife. The wild beast migration spectacle is one of the biologically distinctive features that attract large numbers of tourists to Africa in addition to the rich wildlife and cultural heritage. According to FAO (2005) forests and woodlands occupy an estimated 650 million ha or 21.8% of the land area in Africa. These constitute some 16.8% of the global forest cover.

The distribution of forests and woodlands varies from one sub-region to the other, with Northern Africa having the least forest cover while Central Africa has the densest cover. The Congo basin in Central Africa is home to the world’s second largest continuous block of tropical rain forest (UNEP, 2006). Grassland ecosystems are sources of wild relatives of major cereal crops such as wheat, rice, barley, sorghum, rye and millet. However, there are growing concerns about the ability of grasslands to sustain a rich assemblage of species. Biodiversity restricted studies suggest that introduction of invasive species, conversion of natural grasslands into croplands and fragmentation of grasslands is responsible for decreases in biodiversity (White et al., 2000).

Human activities, including land fragmentation and cultivation, continue to modify grassland ecosystems. Fragmentation of grassland ecosystems has been invoked in explanations of:

i). Declining bird and animal populations due to genetic isolation promoting inbreeding, genetic drifting and extinction;

ii). Diminished endemic species because of less variety in successional stages in grasslands;

iii). Decreased probability of species re-colonization;

iv). Increased incidences of predation and reduced nest success;

v). Introduction of invasive plants and animals (invasive species spread rapidly changing the composition of grasslands and outcompete indigenous species).

Trends in grassland biodiversity point to declines in bird populations and large grassland herbivores. Habitat loss and destruction of migratory corridors are the major causes of biodiversity declines in grassland ecosystems. The spectacular migration of large herbivores such as the wild beasts and zebra of East Africa across the savannah now occur over a much less extensive area in East Africa and central Zambian region (Olson and Dinerstein, 1997).

Impacts of Exotic and Indigenous Organisms

Invasive species are biological organisms that have moved beyond their normal range of occurrence. Invasive species are found in all phyla, from micro-organisms to various aquatic and terrestrial plant and animal organisms. The 1995 National Research Council’s study on marine biodiversity listed invasion of exotic aquatic species as one of the five most critical environmental issues facing the oceanic marine life (MA, 2006).

The impacts of invasive species have broad economic and ecological manifestations. The ecological impacts of invasive species have economic implications and vice versa. Not all invasive species produce ecological or economic impacts. Some introduced species do not acclimatize in the new environments and would have no effect on the structure and functioning of indigenous species. However, some invasive species have the potential to cause enormous ecological and economic impacts.

Ecological Impacts of Invasive Species

Deliberate or inadvertent species introductions cause structural and functional modifications to the receiving ecosystems. In some cases, introduced species interfere with trophic dynamics of receiving ecosystems. Established food chains and food webs may be disrupted by introduced organisms which compete with the indigenous organisms for space and resources. Since invasive species may have no natural enemies in the areas where they become naturalized, invaders have the potential to cause extinction of indigenous species. Biological invasions are also associated with the threat of new diseases which may be lethal to plants and animals including humans. Allelopathic interactions associated with some introduced species are responsible for biodiversity erosion and in actual reductions and loss in biodiversity (UNEP, 2004 b). In instances where conditions favour hybridization between exotic and indigenous species, adulteration of the gene pool may cause declines in populations of organisms, species extinction and reductions in biodiversity. This may increase the susceptibility of an ecosystem to diseases and vectors.

The interactive mechanisms associated with biological invasions have not been extensively studied for many biogeographical regions of the world. Some scientists have found evidence that many introduced species rely on mutualisms in their new habitats to overcome barriers to establishment and attain naturalization (Richardson et al., 2000). Plant and animal mediated mutualisms include symbiotic relationships and pollinator mutualisms. Some invasive exotic plants such as woody species are known to spread through insects and birds. Seeds of many notorious plant invaders are dispersed mainly by birds and mammals.

Susceptibility to invasion by exotic species in many ecosystems has been attributed to:

a) Presence of an increasing array of potential mutualistic partners such as generalist frugivores and pollinators, mycorrhizal fungi with wide host ranges, rhizobia strains with infectivity across genera.

b) Increasing abundance of conditions that favour establishment of various exotic/exotic synergisms.

Economic Impacts of Invasive Species

The threat of invasive species to developing modern economies is real. There are many examples of widespread economic losses associated with elimination of profitable indigenous species by invasive species. Many governments in Africa are grappling with the challenges of restoring degraded ecosystems due to loss of biodiversity in addition to the threat of new diseases and vectors with a potential to cause enormous economic losses in food crops and other profitable natural resources (Box 2.2).

Box 2.2: Invasive Species with Economic Impact

Invasive species are a problem to diverse ecosystems in Africa. Some of the important ecosystems are being undermined by the threat of exotic species causing biodiversity loss, diminishing livelihood opportunities and increasing human vulnerability to diseases. Some forest species such as Pinus, Eucalyptus and Acacia spp. are important sources of firewood, timber and pulp. However, they have caused considerable strain on water resources. In South Africa, invasive species consume up to 7% of available water (Preston and Williams, 2003). Nile perch (Lates niloticus) is an exotic species in East Africa of considerable economic value. However, its negative impacts associated with loss of indigenous species and livelihood opportunities are of great concern.

The World Conservation Union has identified 81 exotic species in South Africa, 49 in Mauritius, 44 in Swaziland, 37 in Algeria and Madagascar, 35 in Kenya, 28 in Egypt, 26 in Ghana and Zimbabwe and 22 in Ethiopia (IUCN/SSC/ISSG, 2004).

Exotic Species: Exotic species directly impact ecosystem functions that are of considerable economic significance. For example, invasive species alter ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, flood water control, conservation and regeneration of soils, CO2 -O2 equilibrium, etc. These environmental services have a direct bearing on soil fertility; soil loss, food production, and human health among others (GISP, 2004). Exotic species also cause economic damage by hybridization with indigenous valuable species resulting in the adulteration of the gene pool of indigenous plant materials. Low yielding unproductive cross breeds may also be less resistant to diseases.

Invasive species: They support a reservoir of disease causing organisms and harmful vectors. Disease transmitting vectors and pathogenic organisms cause reductions in the aesthetic quality of the environment and may have negative social cultural manifestations as well. This often takes the form of increased disease burdens and social responsibilities in mitigating the adverse consequences of disease.

Ecosystem Approach

The significance of ecosystem approaches in sustainable resources management is that they focus on biotic and abiotic interactions and the interacting components in a single integrated system. An understanding of ecosystems in terms of what constitutes them and the interactions therein is important for natural resources management because in NRM, human beings are interfacing with these natural systems to extract goods and services. This extraction cannot be limitless due to the natural limitations of the systems to replenish and replace the removed resources.

Definition and Principles

In 1995, the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the ecosystem approach as the primary framework for action under the Convention. CBD gives the following description for the ecosystem approach:

It is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. It is based on the application of appropriate scientific methodologies focused on levels of biological organization, which encompass the essential structure, processes, functions and interactions among organisms and their environment. It recognizes that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of many ecosystems (MA, 2005).

The ecosystem approach recognizes that the ecosystem is not defined just by the bio-physical variables but incorporates the human factor as well as institutional, social and economic factors that affect human activities within the ecosystem.

The ecosystem approach requires adaptive management to deal with the complex and dynamic nature of ecosystems and the absence of complete knowledge or understanding of their functioning. Ecosystem processes are often non-linear, and the outcome of such processes often shows time-lags. The result is discontinuities, leading to surprise and uncertainty. Management must be adaptive in order to be able to respond to such uncertainties and contain elements of “learning-by-doing” or research feedback. Measures may need to be taken even when some cause-and-effect relationships are not yet fully established scientifically.

Box 2.3: Principles of the Ecosystem Approach

According to the CBD, the ecosystem approach does not preclude other management and conservation approaches, such as biosphere reserves, protected areas, and single-species conservation programmes, as well as other approaches carried out under existing national policy and legislative frameworks, but could, rather, integrate all these approaches and other methodologies to deal with complex situations (MA, 2005). There is no single way to implement the ecosystem approach, as it depends on local, provincial, national, regional or global conditions.

Operational Guidance for Application of the Ecosystem Approach

In applying the 12 principles of the ecosystem approach, the following five points are proposed as operational guidance.

1. Focus on the relationships and processes within ecosystem.

The many components of biodiversity control the stores and flows of energy, water and nutrients within ecosystems, and provide resistance to major perturbations. A much better knowledge of ecosystem functions and structure, and the roles of the components of biological diversity in ecosystems, is required, especially to understand:

a) ecosystem resilience and the effects to biodiversity loss (species and genetic levels) and habitat fragmentation; and

b) underlying causes of biodiversity loss; and

c) determinants of local biological diversity in management decisions.

Functional biodiversity in ecosystems provides many goods and services of economic and social importance. While there is a need to accelerate efforts to gain new knowledge about functional biodiversity, ecosystem management has to be carried out even in the absence of such knowledge. The ecosystem approach can facilitate practical management by ecosystem managers (whether local communities or national policy makers).

2. Enhance benefit-sharing.

Benefits that flow from the array of functions provided by biological diversity at the ecosystem level provide the basis of human environmental security and sustainability. The ecosystem approach is a strategy that guarantees that the benefits derived from these functions are maintained or restored. In particular, these functions should benefit the stakeholders responsible for their production and management. This requires, inter alia: capacity building, especially at the level of local communities managing biological diversity in ecosystems; the proper valuation of ecosystem goods and services; the removal of perverse incentives that devalue ecosystem goods and services; and, consistent with the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity, where appropriate, their replacement with local incentives for good management practices.

3. Use adaptive management practices.

Ecosystem processes and functions are complex and variable. Their level of uncertainty is increased by the interaction with social constructs, which need to be better understood. Therefore, ecosystem management must involve a learning process, which helps to adapt methodologies and practices to the ways in which these systems are being managed and monitored. Implementation programmes should be designed to adjust to the unexpected, rather than to act on the basis of a belief in certainties. Ecosystem management needs to recognize the diversity of social and cultural factors affecting natural-resource use. Similarly, there is need for flexibility in policy-making and implementation. Long-term, inflexible decisions are likely to be inadequate or even destructive. Ecosystem management should be envisaged as a long-term experiment that builds on its results as it progresses. This “learning-by-doing” will also serve as an important source of information to gain knowledge of how best to monitor the results of management and evaluate whether established goals are being attained. In this respect, it would be desirable to establish or strengthen capacities of parties for monitoring.

4. Carry out management actions at the scale appropriate for the issue being addressed, with decentralization to the lowest level, as appropriate.

As noted in the description of the ecosystem approach, an ecosystem is a functioning unit that can operate at any scale, depending upon the problem or issue being addressed. This understanding should define the appropriate level for management decisions and actions. Often, this approach will imply decentralization to the level of local communities. Effective decentralization requires proper empowerment, which implies that the stakeholder both has the opportunity to assume responsibility and the capacity to carry out the appropriate action, and needs to be supported by enabling policy and legislative frameworks. The most appropriate scale for management decisions where common property resources are involved would necessarily be large enough to encompass the effects of practices by all relevant stakeholders. Appropriate institutions would be required for such decision-making and, where necessary, for conflict resolution. Some problems and issues may require action at still higher levels, through, for example, transboundary cooperation, or even cooperation at global levels.

5. Ensure intersectoral cooperation.

As the primary framework of action to be taken under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the ecosystem approach should be fully taken into account in developing and reviewing national biodiversity strategies and action plans. There is also need to integrate the ecosystem approach into agriculture, fisheries, forestry and other production systems that have an effect on biodiversity. Management of natural resources, according to the ecosystem approach, calls for increased intersectoral communication and cooperation at a range of levels (government ministries, management agencies, etc.). This might be promoted through, for example, the formation of inter-ministerial bodies within the Government or the creation of networks for sharing information and experience.

Practical Operation of the Ecosystem Approach

A report on the implementation of the ecosystem approach, based on discussions in Southern Africa, South America and Southeast Asia as well as 26 case studies from these regions is presented by Smith and Maltby (2003). According to this report, adoption of the ecosystem approach would benefit considerably from new mechanisms that would allow the economic and wider value of ecosystem functions to be realized. Greater community-level understanding of the ecological thinking that underpins the approach is best achieved when empowered community members train one another. Regional centres may be appropriate for training, stakeholder empowerment and building awareness among professionals and non-specialists. Smith and Maltby (2003) present case studies to illustrate that the ecosystem approach is highly flexible though its successful use depends on stakeholder participation. The case studies demonstrate that the ecosystem approach can be applied from an individual farm to transnational regions as well as at the global scale. Although decentralised management is often needed, in practice, there are a number of significant obstacles to it. A combined bottom-up and top-down approach may be the best way to identify the most appropriate management scales and mechanisms.

Management should adapt to lessons learned in the field and be responsive to ongoing advances in scientific understanding. Monitoring of appropriate indicators is vital for adaptive management. There are many possible innovative approaches to benefit sharing under the ecosystem approach, although further guidance is needed.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was initiated in 2001, the objective being to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and the scientific basis for action needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of those systems and their contribution to human well-being. From 2001 to 2005, the MA involved the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide. Their findings, contained in five technical volumes and six synthesis reports, provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide (such as clean water, food, forest products, flood control, and natural resources) and the options to restore, conserve or enhance the sustainable use of ecosystems (MA, 2005; 2006, for more on the Millennium Assessment, see

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment used a conceptual framework that places human well-being as the central focus for ecosystem assessment, while recognizing that biodiversity and ecosystems also have intrinsic value and that people take decisions concerning ecosystems based on considerations of wellbeing as well as intrinsic value. The MA conceptual framework (Figure 2.14) assumes that a dynamic interaction exists between people and other parts of ecosystems, with the changing human condition serving to both directly and indirectly drive change in ecosystems and with changes in ecosystems causing changes in human well-being. At the same time, many other factors independent of the environment change the human condition, and many natural forces influence ecosystems.

The MA focuses particular attention on the linkages between ecosystem services and human well-being. The assessment deals with the full range of ecosystems—from those relatively undisturbed, such as natural forests, to landscapes with mixed patterns of human use and ecosystems intensively managed and modified by humans, such as agricultural land and urban areas. The multiscale nature of decision-making allows the examination of driving forces that may be exogenous to particular regions, and provides a means of examining the differential impact of ecosystem changes and policy responses on different regions and groups within regions.

Key Findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

Box 2.4: The Following are the Major Findings of the Assessment

The bottom line of the MA findings (Box 2.4) is that human actions are depleting the earth’s natural capital, putting such strain on the environment that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted. At the same time, the assessment shows that with appropriate actions, it is possible to reverse the degradation of many ecosystem services over the next 50 years, but the changes in policy and practice required are substantial and not currently underway.


Figure 2.14: The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Conceptual Framework

Source: MA, 2005

Changes in factors that indirectly affect ecosystems, such as population, technology, and lifestyle (upper right corner of figure), can lead to changes in factors directly affecting ecosystems, such as the catch of fisheries or the application of fertilizers to increase food production (lower right corner). The resulting changes in the ecosystem (lower left corner) cause the ecosystem services to change and thereby affect human well-being. These interactions can take place at more than one scale and can cross scales. For example, a global market may lead to regional loss of forest cover, which increases flood magnitude along a local stretch of a river. Similarly, the interactions can take place across different time scales. Actions can be taken either to respond to negative changes or to enhance positive changes at almost all points in this framework (black cross bars).

Ecohealth Approach in Ecosystem Management

Lebel (2003) presents an integrated ecosystem management framework that focuses on human well-being. He argues that it is impossible to improve the environment without including the human population, with inherent social, cultural, and economic concerns, in the management of resources. A sectoral approach is no longer adequate but co-management of human activity and the environment is essential. This challenge requires multidisciplinary approaches to studies of human– environment relationships. Lebel argues that the ecosystem approach gives equal importance to environmental management, economic factors, and community aspirations (Figure 2.15). The economy, the environment, and community needs all affect the health of the ecosystem. Focusing on just one of these factors to the detriment of others compromises ecosystem sustainability. The Ecohealth approach is thus part of the sustainable development process which promotes positive action on the environment that improves community well-being and health.


Figure 2.15: Ecohealth Approach in Ecosystem Management Showing Environmental, Community, Political and Economic Interactive Domains

Source: Adapted from Lebel (2003)

The complexity of the interactions between the various economic, social, and environmental components of an ecosystem requires integrated research strategies that go beyond multidisciplinary frameworks. A transdisciplinary approach enables researchers from different disciplines and key actors to develop a common vision, while preserving the richness and strength of their respective areas of knowledge. By adopting this approach at the outset the research team avoids carrying out parallel studies whose results are pooled only at the end. Going beyond one’s own discipline requires a great capability for synthesis as well as sensitivity to the strengths and limitations of others.

Summary and Conclusion

Natural resources are the pillar for development in most developing countries particularly in Africa. Sustainable Development Goals are impossible to attain in the face of natural resources management regimes that lead to the degradation of this resource base. NRM research and development interventions should adequately focus on meeting the needs of the stakeholders.

These discussions on various ecosystem theories, concepts and principles including management and research frameworks demonstrate that due to the complexity of ecosystems in terms of structure, processes and human factors, not one framework exists that adequately fulfils management and research requirements. Campbell et al., (2004) observed that the ecosystem approach, integrated natural resources management, integrated soil and water management, integrated catchment management, integrated coastal zone management, landscape approaches and eco-regional approaches, among others, have common features. The ecosystem approach is popular in biodiversity assessments whereas integrated natural resource management approaches are commonly preferred by international research centres. The challenge is to formulate a framework that adequately addresses the biophysical characteristics of ecosystems as well as social, technical, economic, institutional and other parameters that affect ecosystem management.

Natural resources are life support components that are intricately coupled to abiotic and biotic systems. Interactions between ecosystem components have important consequences on the qualitative and quantitative attributes of natural resources. Ecosystem and socio-economic theory provide a superstructural framework for integrated management of holistic life support systems. The application of ecosystem approaches in natural resource management is tractable to system analysis. Systems analysis frameworks (ecological and socio-economic models) are powerful multilevel and macro scale tools for evaluating the role of impacts of management activities on ecological and social systems in which resources occur and are managed. Systems analysis approaches provide analytical frameworks for predicting the consequences of disturbances on the integrity and resilience of natural ecosystems.

Socio-economic theory provides fundamental premises governing resource allocation and investment such as stakeholder preferences, decision criteria, perceived costs, benefits in natural resource conservation and management, and understanding of the wider structural and policy context which may govern individual’s economic behaviour. Understanding the need and challenges of Integrated Natural Resource Management is the special focus of Chapter 3.

Learning Activities

Revision Questions

1. Attempt a multidisciplinary discourse of the meaning, importance and classification of natural resources.

2. Critique the plausibility of ecosystem concepts with particular reference to natural resource management.

3. Natural resource management is defined as a science and an art. Discuss the contextual dualism of this definition.

4. What are the merits and demerits of density dependent explanations of ecosystem change associated with African Savannas?

5. Why is the recognition of ecosystem pattern important in natural resource management?

6. Differentiate between landscape ecology and ecosystem ecology.

7. Compare and contrast the applications of equilibrium and non-equilibrium theories in natural resource management.

8. “The need to understand the structural and functional attributes of managed ecosystems is a critical consideration in natural resource management options”. Discuss.

9. Describe the mechanisms of invasibility of alien tree plant species in African savannas.

10. What are the ecological and economic ramifications of invasive plant species?

11. What are the challenges and opportunities of natural resource management in the new millennium?

12. Conduct a literature review on the subject of the ongoing debate regarding equilibrium and non-equilibrium models and provide a summary of your findings within context of the applicability of these models in natural resource management.


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Integrated Natural Resource Management

R. K. Bagine, G. Kironchi, and E. K. Maranga


The world is becoming more integrated resulting to Integration emerging as the most important concept in modern society in the field of Natural Resource Management (NRM) because of the complexity of the systems involved (Catacutan and Tanui, 2008). The linkages that occur in NRM systems create the need to integrate across spatial and temporal scales (Poulsen, 2003).

This chapter presents holistic perspectives in the Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) systems and explores the trends, drivers and tools for natural resource management, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The INRM is a process that uses holistic approach for managing natural resource research and development programmes. It provides an operational framework for facilitating interventions in natural resource management and conservation which integrate multiple scales of interaction and response, embrace a high frequency of non-linearity, uncertainty, and time lags, and involve multiple stakeholders with often contrasting objectives and activities. The INRM describes natural resource management as a comprehensive systemic process involving a number of key functions which need to be in place or developed if interventions are to be successful. It seeks to respond to major drivers of land-use change, such as climate change, population growth, degradation, poverty, socio-political interests, rural-urban migration and large scale changes to technology adoption. It aims to help solve complex real-world problems affecting natural resources in agro-ecosystems in order to improve livelihoods, agro-ecosystem resilience, agricultural productivity and environmental services. The overall objective of the chapter is to provide the reader with adequate information on the concepts and principles as well as the implementation tools of integrated natural resource management. Specifically, the chapter aims to:-

a) Provide the reader with basic information on the concepts and principles of integrated natural resources management;

b) Identify the tools needed in integrated natural resource management and to explain their use, application, and techniques; and apply, implement or adopt integrated natural resource management in different situations;

c) Layout a detailed account of the strategies and procedures for developing successful and practical integrated natural resource management programmes;

d) Provide prototype integrated natural resource management frameworks and well critiqued cases from which to draw lessons learnt.

Natural resource components such as biodiversity, water, air, soil etc. are interrelated. Impacts on one component affect the other components. Similarly, natural resource systems are holistic and impacts at any point in the system create chain interactions that determine ecosystem health. Human beings depend on the exploitation of natural resources for subsistence and income. Management interventions must, therefore, take cognizance of the interrelatedness of the natural resources usage. The INRM involves technical skills and knowledge about biophysical processes as well as social components, i.e., negotiation of rules and sanctions, policy formulation, organization development, land use planning, conflict and information management. The greatest handicap in sustainable resource use is the application of single-disciplinary and single-scale focus approaches that fail to address the multi-scale aspects and issues of the complexity of the management of natural resources.

Natural resources should be managed in such a way that human demands and use levels are permanently kept within the bounds of the resources’ natural reproduction rate. Integrated approaches to resource management have been advocated in many fields, such as river basin management, regional planning and ecosystem management (Born and Sonzogni, 1995), coastal zone management (Cicin-Sain, 1993), wetlands management, and oceans management (Costanza et al., 1999).

These approaches, including the INRM concepts and principles, are addressed in various subthemes in this chapter and where necessary, case studies are provided. Similarly, the chapter emphasizes the resource sustainability as an integral consideration in NRM. The chapter attempts to discuss the following themes:

• Concepts and context of INRM;

• Ecosystem components ” functions and services;

• Conservations perspectives in integrated NRM;

• Participatory land uses and resource planning;

• Tools for INRM; INRM conflict management;

• Mitigation and adaptation strategies in NRM; and

• Integration of technological and indigenous knowledge systems in INRM.

This chapter clarifies the concepts and approaches of INRM, and applies them to the context of specific natural resources in Africa. A major shortcoming of single-disciplinary and single-scale focus of natural sciences is the failure to address all interrelated issues at different scales and for different resource uses. There is need for change in approach towards integration between disciplines, natural resource assets, uses, scales and approaches. This gives a noble rationale for integrated conservation and development – the INRM approach. The INRM, a conceptual and overarching framework, makes it possible to integrate different tools in order to cope with the complexity of real-life NRM problems. The INRM provides a comprehensive way of managing natural resources while considering the inherent complexity of socio-ecological components and processes in an ecosystem. It also facilitates better resilience (or less vulnerability) and overall effective management of natural resources.

Philosophy of INRM

Natural resources support human beings to produce goods and services to meet their needs. These resources include the geophysical resources of water, soil and its productive qualities, intermediate and long-term carbon stocks, biodiversity of the managed landscapes, and the stability and resilience of the ecosystem of which agriculture is a part (CGIAR, 2003). Natural resources are not static features but change with time and space, reflecting changes in the desires, will and ingenuity of man. Historically, they can come into being e.g. many deposits of alloy metals became natural resources only after the Industrial Revolution; they can disappear or become extinct due to over exploitation; they can cease to be resources, the mulberry trees in many silk-worm growing areas lost value as natural resources with the development of competing synthetic fibers.

Natural resources and the whole resource complex must be considered as being dynamic because they owe their material existence to the continuously changing interplay of all inorganic and organic factors which determine the general character of natural environment. Natural resources are usually classified into renewable and non-renewable categories. While this is convenient, it cannot be followed too strictly for many so called renewable resources e.g. Teak Forests, are replaced so slowly that they can be considered non-renewable; while from the other side, many non-renewable resources e.g. mineral extraction from earth rocks, can readily be substituted by non-mineral resources. Natural resources are normally limited to non-human resources. However, they serve man`s physical and psychological needs and are a function of his activities. It is man who transforms elements of natural environment in an endeavour to convert and/ or adapt them for his benefits.

The NRM is congruent with the concept of sustainable development, a scientific principle that forms a basis for global land management and environmental governance to conserve and preserve natural resources. The NRM specifically focuses on a scientific and technical understanding of resources and their ecology and the life-supporting capacity of those resources. There is an increasing consensus about the need to find an approach to resource management that encourages environmentally friendly economic development by treating economic growth and environmental management protection as a continuum that traverses the boundaries of various scientific disciplines. The need to develop a process for formulating and implementing a course of action that explicitly takes into account social, political, economic, and institutional factors is also acknowledged. Such a process must be inclusive and should fully address the scale and scope of environmental and human issues and their consequences (Born and Sonzogni, 1995). Such realization has led to a gradual but fundamental shift in the resource use and management paradigm.

Natural resources are inter-related to one another within a defined ecological system. Therefore, they need to be managed in an integrated fashion. This has given rise to the concept of Integrated Natural Resources Management, which drives home the need to take a holistic integrated approach in dealing with natural resources, and to be conscious of the interactions among the constituent components of the resource base (Atta-Krah, 2004). Integrated Natural Resource Management involves the management of the impact of people on natural resources in a way that is:

Holistic, including all elements of rural landscapes;

Systematic, considering the interactions between these elements;

Comprehensive, embracing the range of values attached to rural landscapes.

Although INRM has been heralded as the approach to addressing resource utilisation and management, adopted by agencies and communities in developed countries, and advocated by many international development donor agencies, it yet to have a systematic methodology. As part of the conceptual development based on their experience with INRM, theoreticians and practitioners alike have outlined elements and principles that are integral to the process. It is generally accepted that any systems approach adopted should integrate synergetic disciplines, span spatial and temporal scales, and involve multiple stakeholders in planning and implementation.

However, Bellamy and Johnson (2000) argue that the application of INRM still poses significant problems even when all of the key elements are in place. These problems are related mainly to the predispositions of stakeholders, researchers, and technical experts as well as managers, farmers, and other end users (Resource Assessment Commission, 1993). Because of these problems, many researchers are attempting to further their understanding of INRM with peer-reviewed publications as a measure of their success. They identify important research problems viewed from within the paradigms that they themselves use to structure research based on a positivist philosophy (Guba, 1990). The researcher adopts a non –interactive position, and analysis is regarded as value-free.

Methodologically, the researcher states a hypothesis and sets out to test it, that is, confirm or disconfirm it empirically. However, achieving practical outcomes is rarely the goal of researchers. It creates a problem when research results are linearly transferred to end users. Managers who have narrow, legislatively mandated terms of reference, duplicate each other’s roles, and act inconsistently to represent a different set of problems (Resource Assessment Commission, 1993). End users are also reluctant to alter their behaviour without incentives compelling enough to bring about changes in their fundamental decision making processes and or outcomes.

To address these problems effectively, all stakeholders, including users, researchers, and managers whose decisions and/or activities influence actual outcomes, would have to make significant changes in their techniques, and probably in their attitudes as well. Furthermore, changes are required in the scale of analysis and action, which could be at the level of the plot, the farm, the community, the region, or even the nation—whatever works. These modifications can be developed by farmers (farmer experimentation), scientists, and/or the private sector. All stakeholders, including researchers, must be involved in developing strategies for change. These strategies will also require changes in the way research is identified, developed, and conducted as well as in the behaviour of managers. The types of strategies that lead to alterations in end-user behaviour would also need to be reviewed, so that individuals are given incentives, rather than directed, to change.

Concepts and Context of INRM

This INRM concept has been known or referred to by very many alternative terms (Downs and Gregory, 1991). Some of these include “integrated catchment management,” “integrated environmental manageme nt,” “ecosystem management,” and “systems analysis.” In this chapter, we choose to use the term “Integrated Natural Resource Management”.

INRM Components

The term Integrated Natural Resource Management has been defined as the responsible and broad-based management of the land, water, forest, and biological resources base (including genes) needed to sustain agricultural productivity and avert degradation of potential productivity (CGIAR-INRM-Group, 1999). INRM operates on the principle that natural resources are neither indestructible nor infinite. They can be destroyed or depleted through agriculture and other land use malpractices. They require to be managed in a holistic and integrated manner, catering for the complexity of ecosystem and the inter-relations amongst its various components. Thomas (2002, pg 53) defines INRM as:

An approach that integrates research of different types of natural resources into stakeholder–driven processes of adaptive management and innovation to improve livelihoods, agro-ecosystem resilience, agricultural productivity and environmental services at community, eco-regional and global scales of intervention and impact.

The INRM has the ability to:

• empower relevant stakeholders;

• resolve conflicts of interest among stakeholders, foster adaptive management capacity;

• accommodate complexity by focusing on key causal element;

• integrate levels of analysis;

• merge disciplinary perspectives;

• guide research on component technologies; and

• generate policy, technological and institutional options for stakeholders.


Figure 3.1: Key Elements of INRM and Complexity of Natural Resources Interaction

Modified After Atta-Krah Kwesi, 2004

A central dimension in INRM is the way in which the natural resources interact within and among themselves, and how their management and interaction relates to people and livelihoods. At the centre of INRM are people, their needs, their livelihoods and their rights, and how these needs interact with management of the natural resources. Any use of natural resources must, however, be within the framework of sustainability, and people need to be involved in their management and conservation. The key elements of INRM and complexity of interactions within its domain gives an indication of how broad and important natural resources are (see Figure 3.1). For example, biodiversity represents natural, uncultivated ecosystems (e.g. forests) while agricultural biodiversity represents ecosystems used in agriculture. The soil supports living entities such as biological diversity and retains moisture and minerals for use by living organisms. People and livelihoods are at the centre of INRM components.

Research in INRM

Integrated Natural Resource Management research can meet the challenge of accelerating the use of natural resource management practices that improve human well-being. INRM must be based upon sound research findings across numerous countries and diverse Agro–Ecological Zones (AEZ) so that substantial tested packages are disseminated to various communities. For example, complex investigations are needed to come up with recommended soil fertility management approaches that will give the highest and most sustainable gains in crop productivity per input unit. Several mixtures of inorganic fertilizers and organic inputs must therefore be tested in consideration with their time of application if better packages are to be developed (see case study 3.1).

Thus, decentralized initiatives, supported by relevant institutions, and guided by suitable information management tools, can lead to the widespread use of suitable management options from INRM research. This, in turn, can improve agro-ecosystem productivity and resilience, thereby helping achieve the goals of poverty alleviation, food security, and environmental protection. Integrated natural resource management that integrates multiple disciplines across spatial and temporal scales and involves stakeholders in key decisions will probably be more effective than the single-disciplinary management approaches of the past. However, for INRM to succeed in practice, it must focus on how people make decisions and how they interact with each other and with their natural environment. The main strategy is to foster and improve the adaptive capacity of all relevant stakeholders.

Case Study 3.1: The Strategy of ISFM for Upland Rice Production in West Africa

First, all relevant stakeholders will probably have to change their behaviour to allow for the planning, research, and implementation of management strategies across traditional and legislatively mandated roles and disciplinary biases. Second, constructivist philosophy should guide a dialectic decision-making process supported by rigorous individual or interdisciplinary research. Third, the specific problem should dictate the scale, scope, and disciplinary mix of the research, and the desired outcomes should be identified through participatory action research, which may require a spatial-analytical framework of hierarchical scales of analysis from local to global. Fourth, research should be integrative and synergistic, traversing disciplinary boundaries and bridging gaps in the perceptions, values, and perspectives of different stakeholders. Actions and policies should be developed in a participatory manner and implemented at different scales to bring about the outcomes that have been identified as desirable based on the decisions that stakeholders actually make in the field. These cycles of behavioural change followed by the search for appropriate management strategies then occur iteratively, with continuous adaptive learning as the cornerstone of the decision-making process.

Ecosystem Approach to INRM

Ecosystem Processes

The significance of interconnectedness of ecosystem components, the plants, animals, microbes, humans as well as air, soils and water is not that simple. In Chapter 2, detailed ecosystems interactions and processes have been presented. A large number of complex physical, chemical and biological interactions make it possible and in general, they are called ecosystem processes. Photosynthesis, the conversion of solar energy into chemical energy (food for animals) by green plants, is one such process that is essential to support life on Earth, just as decomposition, the breaking down of waste (complex organic matter) into plant nutrients by microbes. Were it not for the myriad of microorganisms that live on this planet, it would have been buried under its own waste and plants would have perished without nutrients, a long time ago. These processes/interactions between components, therefore, are crucial in maintaining life on Earth. In other words, in perpetuating the regenerative capacity of living organisms. Changes in the components or the conditions that they are in will greatly affect the speed at which these interactions take place, for instance, when the water is polluted with organic waste, dissolved oxygen in water rapidly depletes and the water becomes unfavourable for life as a result of its being excessively used by microorganisms that multiply faster under the circumstances. Naturally, the consequence is a fishkill, the indicator that the processes are under stress and the systems’ life supporting capacity is at stake.

Similarly, any degraded ecosystem affects life on earth, for example, degradation of forest habitats affects the delivery of ecosystem services to humans and wildlife; shortage of water, clean air, tourism, etc. The extent and the type of vegetation cover in Kenya has changed dramatically in the recent past due to both natural causes and human activity. Most watersheds, agricultural land and rangelands (Figure 3.3) have been heavily degraded and this has resulted in serious environmental consequences affecting livelihoods, biodiversity and natural systems. For example, most of the Rift Valley lakes e.g. Naivasha, Nakuru and Elementaita in Kenya are shrinking at an alarming rate due to increased human settlement and land use change in the watersheds.


Figure 3.3: A new settler clears indigenous trees to cultivate crops in the Mau Forest Complex, which is Kenya’s largest water tower. (Photo, February 2005).

Source: UNEP, 2005

Ecosystem processes may undergo changes due to a multitude of reasons that hamper the ecosystems ability to perform functions and thus deliver the services. Livelihoods are either directly or indirectly dependent on ecosystem processes, giving rise to functions that eventually provide the services from which the livelihoods are derived. Making charcoal out of mangrove wood is directly dependent on mangrove productivity facilitated through photosynthesis. Clear felling of mangrove areas for other land uses such as shrimp culture or salt production will diminish the photosynthetic process and its production function, thus reducing the mangrove biomass available for charcoal production.

Ecosystem Functions

Ecosystem health is the self maintenance of the processes that gives rise to a multitude of functions beneficial for humans and other life, which are commonly known as ecological/environmental goods and services or amenities, such as supporting the food chains, provision of resources for livelihoods, clean water, fresh air and scenic views. Ecosystem processes, therefore, are responsible for ecosystem functions that serve the well-being of humanity. According to Rudolf et al., (2002) ecosystem functions can be classified as follows:

• Regulation functions (regulation of air, climate, water, water supply, disturbance prevention, soil formation and erosion, nutrient cycling, waste treatment, pollination, biological control of pests and diseases);

• Habitat functions (refuge and nursery functions);

• Production functions (food, raw materials, genetic, medicinal and ornamental resources);

• Information functions (aesthetic information, recreation and ecotourism, cultural and artistic inspiration, spiritual and historic information, scientific and educational information).

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystems functions or benefits constitute the core of life support systems on earth and cater for the well-being of humanity. Resources and opportunities for livelihoods, the means through which people make a living, such as fishing, farming, shrimp aquaculture, crab fattening, eco-tourism, hydroelectric power generation in rivers, as well as extraction of oil and gas trapped deep down in the ground, are provided to humans through ecosystem functions. As such, they are called ecosystem services. Viewing ecosystem functions as services makes them valuable to those who benefit. Thus, ecosystems are linked to economics. The value of ecosystems, like that of any other asset, derives from the services they provide. In reality, attaching values to ecosystem functions has not proven successful hitherto because the interactions among ecosystem components or the processes themselves, as well as their link to human well-being, have not yet been sufficiently elucidated.


Figure 3.4: Interactions Between Ecosystem Services, Human Well-Being and Drivers of Change.

Ecosystems, however, are linked to social systems since humans depend on the ecosystem functions to fulfill their needs and aspirations. These links seem not to be simple. They demand scholarly effort to reveal the bearing of processes that define ecosystem health on human well-being. Besides, it’s also crucial to have elucidated how the direct and indirect drivers or the causalities of change of processes eventually affect the ecosystem services and human well-being (Figure 3.4). The International Commission for Science (ICSU), United Nations University (UNU) and UNESCO that jointly carried out the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA, 2005) highlight in their draft report that 60% of the ecosystem services that have been investigated are degraded and do not deliver the expected goods and services to humanity. Effort should therefore be diverted to bridging the gap between ecology and social sciences, to understand the vital links between ecosystems and social systems that finally determine the overall well-being of humanity, with a view to developing appropriate strategies to alter this unfavourable trajectory of Earth’s ecosystems. The direct drivers of change affect the ecosystem services; in turn they affect the human livelihoods.

Linkages between Processes, Functions and Services for INRM

INRM emphasises that ecosystems are moving targets with multiple potential features that are uncertain and unpredictable. Therefore, management has to be flexible, adaptive and experimental. On the other hand, INRM can be used to analyse higher systems-level dynamics, stresses and interactions and to link global and local processes such as biodiversity loss and climate change; ecosystem functions and services (Figure 3.5).


Figure 3.5: Natural Resource Management and Use: Ecosystem Approach and Linkages Between Processes, Functions and Services.

Source: Poulsen, 2003

The above figure demonstrates that an ecosystem approach to management will not only emphasise that different scales need to be considered but also that one needs to look beyond boundaries of the system in question. All goods and services must be balanced, all relevant stakeholders need to be included in negotiations, and solutions must be adapted to achieve desired outputs. Figure 3.5 shows the framework around which INRM is done, emphasising the role of dynamic and iterative impact assessment to ensure that goals and objectives are continuously reassessed against changing needs and state of the system.


Figure 3.6: Nesting of Systems and Subsystems in INRM

Source: Bossel (2001)

Integrated Management deals with interacting nested systems (see Figure 3.6). Subsystems contribute to viability and performance of component systems, which again contribute to the total system. INRM also involves multidimensional scales including integration of diverse elements from disciplinary to inter-disciplinary; research to policy and field to regional scales (Figure 3.7). The adoption of a more integrated approach in NRM emanates from concerns, that “ecological sustainability cover broader geographical areas than fields and farms, and NRM research ought to be able to benefit large numbers of people” (Kam et al., 2000, 3).


Figure 3.7: Integration of Diverse Elements in INRM

INRM is about understanding the existing interactions between the resource system and social dynamics and the relationships among levels of organization (Kam et al., 2000). Campbell and Hagmann’s (2003) have developed a conceptual and operational framework for INRM and they argue that: “integration is the central concept in INRM”. There are several dimensions of integration in integrated natural resource management. One is the integration of multi-stakeholders. This integration is divided into: (i) the integration of more stakeholders in more communities and (ii) the integration across scales, i.e. local and national government organizations called “strengthen linkages along the research-development-policy continuum” (CGIAR, 2003).

According to Lovell et al., (2002), INRM is complex and must address many interactions. The scale of operation can restrict the generality and utility process and its outcomes. It is critical to consider temporal, biophysical, and institutional scales when planning and executing an INRM process. Every scale has unique context and dynamics. The conceptual framework in Figure 3.8 is useful for scaling and addressing critical issues in INRM.

Experiences from different parts of Africa clearly show that successful INRM initiatives have the preconditions set in Figure 3.9 in place and have the following common features:

A reasonable degree of social organization through which the necessary critical mass of collective action can be organized. Where this does not exist, it has to be created, requiring significant development of trust and platform building. The social units most appropriate for participation need to be tailored to the particular setting, and the approach may not work where “community” is not the norm and people are devoted to individual actions (e.g., tribals, absentee landlords, landless people);

• Clearly defined roles for the different organizations: state departments, NGOs, and CBOs;

Emphasis on introducing government personnel to participatory farmer-to-farmer extension and on reorienting initial projects and extension approaches away from “treatment” of specific problems toward whole-catchment management focused on livelihood priorities;

Flexibility. A thoroughly predesigned and pre–planned project is not considered a good project. Indicators of success focus on adaptation rather than adoption;

Group access to finance through credit or other means;

Highly subsidized by government and donors, with local residents contributing only a small percentage of the value of the development works in cash or as labour. Adequate financial and institutional support is considered critical where authorities are handing responsibility for complex, costly, and conflict-ridden problems back to local people;

Planning units that are collective, i.e., a Community-Based Organization (CBO) rather than individual farmers, with the emphasis on working with people who have something important in common (e.g., caste, blood, class, common dependence, common priority);

Tangible benefits to participants in a short space of time.


Figure 3.8: Conceptual Framework or Strategy to Deal with Scaling Issues in INRM.

Adapted from Lovell et al., (2002)


Figure 3.9: Some Generalized Preconditions for Successful INRM

Adapted from Lovell et al., 2002

The INRM allows us to develop effective and relevant solutions, under real life operational conditions, to facilitate better decision making and to manage complex technical changes with multiple impacts. We also need it to be able to maintain a range of options and resilience, to reconcile conflicting objectives and to facilitate or improve access to resources and benefit sharing. Finally, we need it as a means of examining resource degradation over time. It can be used to analyse higher systems-level dynamics, stresses and interactions and to link global and local processes such as biodiversity loss and climate change. In addition, it can be utilised to evaluate future system scenarios and promote adaptation and learning. Integrated approaches need not integrate everything and be all-embracing—the problem drives the integration. We need to integrate only those additional components, stakeholders or scales that are essential to solving the problem at hand. Even more demanding is research in INRM which considers the elements in Figure 3.10.


Figure 3.10: Some Elements of INRM Research

Source: CGIAR, 2004

Operationailizing INRM requires a set of some eleven “cornerstones” (Campbell and Hagman, 2003) depicted in Figure 3.11. The eleven are a set of principles that guide the resource users, researchers and development organizations during the planning, implementing and evaluation processes of an Integrated Natural Resources Management Project. These ‘cornerstones’ offer a classical conceptual design for research and development.


Figure 3.11: The Eleven Cornerstones of INRM

Source: CGIAR-INRM Group, 1999

Figure 3.12 reflects different factors and the multiple dimensions of stakeholders and scales, which are a main characteristic of Integrated Natural Resources Management Systems. The arrows illustrate the multiple scales of interaction and response (Campbell, 2004). This illustration is a useful framework to consider alongside Figure 3.11 in designing, understanding and operationalizing INRM projects. It comprehensively takes into account the fact that natural resource management systems involve multiple stakeholders with multiple perceptions and objectives and, therefore, multiple management strategies. It is these characteristics a researcher or INRM practitioner needs to consider while paying particular attention in identifying integrated natural resources management aims and also find trade-offs that meet the often-contrasting stakeholder interests (Lovell et al., 2002). The illustrated components of Integrated Natural Resources Management give a rough outlook of the natural resource system and its resource users. These frameworks were used by Amede et al., (2006) to design the extended schema of a fisheries integrated resource management framework (Figure 3.13).


Figure 3.12: Components of Integrated Natural Resource Management

After Campbell (2004)


Figure 3.13: Schematic Representation of an Expanded Framework for Fisheries Management.

Amede et al, (2006)

Conservation Perspectives in INRM

Africa has a distinctive natural heritage and biological diversity, which pose several challenges and opportunities for conservation, sustainable use and stewardship. As a continent, we need to recognize, protect and manage this natural resource base by improving our knowledge and developing technology, designs, systems, approaches and strategies to contribute to a safer and healthier environment for all.

The aim of INRM is to manage natural resources so as to achieve a balance between their functions for the quality of the environment and their functions for the quality of human life. The efficiency of INRM approach in solving real life natural resource management problems derives from its ability to:-

• Focus on key factors that cause changes in the integrity of resources (i.e. dealing with the complexity of natural resource systems);

• Merge disciplinary contexts;

• Integrate resource level components in analytical frameworks;

• Involve relevant stakeholders in tackling resource management problems;

• Manage conflicting resource use interests by various stakeholders;

• Foster adaptive management capacity;

• Guide research on component technologies;

• Make use of a broad spectrum of available technologies;

• Generate policy, innovations and institutional alternatives.

Integrating Spatial Typologies and Temporal Dynamics

Spatial differentiation of resources and changes are discernible through time. Use of advanced tools such as geospatial technologies permits investigation of natural resource management problems by tracing macro scale and micro scale changes, for example, in land cover through time—line surveys and connection of such landscape changes with livelihoods. Knowledge of the patterns of trends is critical in predictions of future changes and management scenarios of natural resources.

Integration of casual factors in landscape changes in relation to livelihoods provides useful perspectives in understanding the management realities of natural resources and designing appropriate interventions for tackling existing management problems. For example, natural scientists can no longer afford to be external actors preoccupied with investigation of ecological phenomena far removed from the realities concerning day-to-day trial and error episodes of natural resources managers such as livestock keepers who utilize grazing resources at the landscape/ ecosystem level.

We need action oriented research that values the contributions of natural resources managers and technical experts in developing appropriate solutions to existing management problems (Campbell et al., 2003).

Integrating Biophysical and Socio-economic Perspectives

Changes associated with the integrity of the environment may be due to a combination of causal factors ranging from exploitation of natural resources goods such as fiber, timber, medicines, wood fuel energy etc by humans, grazing and browsing of vegetation by domesticated and wild animals, and natural changes such as climate (e.g. drought, floods, temperature, etc). Other causes of environmental changes associated with land use and land cover may be lodged in the socioeconomic and political sphere. Both biological (natural) and non-biological causes of environmental changes affect the ability of the environment to produce natural resources and support ecosystem functions and human livelihoods.

Development of appropriate interventions to deal with natural resource management problems must of necessity integrate across spatial and temporal scales and consider connectivity between households, villages, districts and international institutions. Multistage approaches are necessary to capture interconnectivity and offsite effects, while solutions to problems will require interventions at different scales (Campbell et al., 2003). Multilevel analytical frameworks that include socio-economic and political causes of environmental problems (e.g. degradation) and biophysical methods that facilitate collection of thematic and qualitative baseline data (contemporary or historical), measurements of attributes of natural phenomena (e.g. shifts in structure, density, frequency of vegetation species, patterns of rainfall, temperature etc), of environmental, ecosystems changes, assessment of the changing natural phenomena and human activities are required to support informed decision-making. Natural resource stakeholders are an important driving variable in natural resource dynamics in view of their activities and contrasting objectives. Sustainable use of natural resources requires considerations of the socio-cultural, socio-economic and institutional framework that influence resource use objectives on varying landscapes and temporal scales.

Stakeholder’s Dimensions

Integrated natural resource management and its many closely related approaches are generally considered to be more effective than single-disciplinary approaches for managing complex resource issues currently facing many countries. INRM approaches aim to integrate several disciplines and involve different stakeholders operating in their own subsystems across different spatial and temporal scales. These approaches focus on identifying management strategies for sustaining natural resource stocks and flows of goods and services as well as their underlying ecological processes. Changes in the behaviour of consumers and producers and in the allocation of resources among uses, users, time, and space will be necessary to achieve sustainable development. To accomplish this, changes in focus, attitudes, and approaches to research and management will also be necessary.

The key focus of INRM should not be the natural resource itself, but rather the interactions of humans with each other and with their natural environment, and the decisions they make about using and managing resources. Such decision-making processes aim to identify and implement action-oriented strategies and to apply economic and noneconomic instruments that motivate behavioural changes, allowing for different responses to various economic imperatives. This process should be guided by constructivist philosophy and supported by rigorous cross-disciplinary research and active stakeholder participation. It must be compatible with dialectic decision making to reflect the different views and objectives of the stakeholders, the presence of incomplete information, and, at times, the fact that researchers have only a poor understanding of the dynamics of subsystems and their interactions. There must also be iterative, regular monitoring and fine-tuning of the management strategies chosen. We prefer to call the entire process an Adaptive Decision-Making Process (ADMP).

Paradigm Shift in Natural Resource Conservation

The underlying rationale is to involve and support Community Based Enterprises (CBEs) that will relieve pressure on the natural environment by providing an economic benefit from the preservation of the biodiversity (an eco-system, landscape, flora, fauna, etc.). This is certainly not, however, the only paradigm. Other modalities for providing an economic benefit for preservation of the environment (direct payments to communities to not utilize land in destructive ways, provision of social infrastructure as compensation) have been been promoted since early 1990s. There is significant support of the CBEs approach not only in Kenya but also in other countries in Africa. However, the success of this approach is dependent upon the local promoters, effective policies and its sustainability in contributing to natural resources conservation Kenya Forestry Service, for example, devised a system of involving all stakeholders in forest conservation and management (see case study Box 3.2).

Case study 3.2: Integrated Forest Management in Kenya

Participatory Land Use and Resource Planning in INRM

Land planning is an integral component of natural resource management. Therefore, INRM is considered a very useful approach to tackle land degradation because of its comprehensive nature and simplification of the inherent complexity of socio-ecological systems, that is, people are an inherent part of the ecosystem in which they live. People-centered conservation currently enjoys international popularity as an environmental philosophy that seeks to link conservation concerns with local needs and governance.

Judicious and efficient use of natural resources is essential for sustaining livelihoods. Community based planning, combined with implementations of sustainable practices and technologies, can help to improve environmental conservation (see case study 3.3). A multi-scale framework could be used to understand the interactions and dynamics of the complex resource use systems at different bio-physical and social economic levels.

Case study 3.3: The District Environment Action Planning and Local level Scenario Planning in Zimbabwe

Tools for INRM

Tools are needed to assist natural resource managers in better focusing investments, more efficiently allocating scare resources available to regional bodies and demonstrating ongoing improvements in resource condition. These tools should be underpinned by robust scientific analysis and promote enhanced understanding of cause and effect through adaptive learning, then they can assist regional bodies in planning, monitoring and evaluating the success of investments.

This section outlines some of the concepts and procedures involved in generalizing and propagating the results of natural resource management research (“scaling out”), with a few forays into the area of externalities and scale of analysis (“scaling up”). Some examples of several methods and tools for accelerating the scale of geographical coverage and impact of INRM practices are also provided. Methods and tools illustrated include site similarity analysis through Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the linking of simulation models with GIS, and farmer and land type categories. Finally, it is argued that these tools are most useful when they provide information in the context of a bottom-up learning process to a wide range of stakeholders who need this information to make decisions.

A problem Solving Approach

Research on Integrated Natural Resource Management must be capable of solving problems (or seizing opportunities) in ways that improve livelihoods for the poor while conserving resource quality and protecting the environment. Within a problem-solving process, we can distinguish among problem sets, causes, intervention points, and measurement tools.

Problem sets are situations in which agro ecosystem performance, i.e., the processes that affect the resource quality or the environment, is unsatisfactory. Examples include low agro ecosystem productivity, excessive resource degradation and environmental pollution, low levels of environmental services, low agro ecosystem biodiversity, reductions in soil fertility, unsatisfactory water quality for consumers, and excessive greenhouse gas emissions. These problems can be characterized in terms of their costs and consequences, spatial and temporal incidence, and pace of change. They can be recognized and defined by farmers, communities, NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs), scientists, and/or policy makers.

Causes are the factors that drive or contribute to problem sets. Typically, many causes at several levels are at work. Causal chains can be long and complex, linking policies, institutions, farmers or community behaviour, biophysical processes, and their consequences for livelihoods and the environment. In other words, policies and institutional arrangements affect people’s behaviour, people’s behaviour affects plant and animal growth and biophysical processes, which result in outcomes that cause changes in system productivity and resource and environmental quality. Chains of cause and effect typically link different scales of analysis. For example, regional policies on the burning of crop residues may influence mulch management at the farm level, affecting soil water and organic matter levels and fractions and rates of erosion at the plot level, with consequences for water quality in the watershed as well as for crop yields and family incomes at the farm level.

Intervention points are opportunities for addressing the problem set. They are not restricted to new farm-level technologies; they may also include changes in policies and institutional arrangements, e.g., rules governing community forest management. However, policy change as an intervention is most effective when cause-and-effect relationships are clear, that is, when there is a reasonable likelihood that a change in policies or institutions will modify farmer or community behaviour in ways that lead to desired changes in biophysical processes, system productivity, environmental and resource quality. Interventions, then, can be at any level of analysis: plot, farm, community, watershed, or region. They may be developed by farmers via farmer experimentation, by scientists, by policy makers, or by the private sector. Early successful interventions have been referred to as “sparks” (CGIAR, 2004). For example, a problem set may revolve around the siltation of the lowland irrigation infrastructure, leading to substantial productivity losses and heavy public investment in renovation. Causes may include heavy erosion from upland areas driven by policies that encourage communal livestock grazing of crop residues, thus reducing incentives to use these residues as a soil cover. An intervention point might feature policy changes to foster modifications in grazing practices that encourage the use of crop residues as a soil cover mulch to reduce erosion and ameliorate the original problem of siltation.

There is a need to develop tools that can link analyses from different spatial and temporal scales. INRM toolbox may be conceived to contain the three compartments, namely; diagnostic tools, problem solving tools and optimization of opportunities, and process tools.

Diagnostic Tools

These are Multilevel Analytical Framework (MLAF) and Indigenous Knowledge (IK) tools that are employed to diagnose problems by means of participatory approaches involving land use stakeholders (farmers, researchers, policy makers, rural development organizations etc). They have two distinct components, i.e., spatial pillar and stakeholder pillar. MLAF is useful in INRM for analyzing technologies and modus operandi of natural resource use. Different processes of landscape change in response to land uses that take place over different time frames are amenable to analysis by means of MLAF. Spatial comparison involving landscapes over different time frames can be mapped using MLAF as a basis.

The INRM is an approach that integrates research of different types of natural resources into stakeholder-driven processes of adaptive management and innovation to improve livelihoods, agro-ecosystem resilience, agricultural productivity and environmental services at community, eco-regional and global scales of intervention and impact’ (Thomas, 2002). In short, INRM aims to help to solve complex real-world problems affecting natural resources in agro-ecosystems. The main strategy to achieve this is to foster and improve the adaptive capacity and learning of all the involved stakeholders. To achieve full-blown INRM, there is need to overhaul the way science of NRM is practiced. According to Campbell, et al.,(2003), the following strategic directions will facilitate this change:

• Merging research and development to ensure a close relationship and an approach to NRM and research that is driven by actual problems and based upon shared learning from complex real-life situations at operational scales;

• Setting up a system for adapting and learning to address the constantly changing challenges of NRM in order to nurture systems that are resilient to changing pressures;

• Balancing biophysical and socio-economic sciences in the assessment of resource degradation as a shift away from geomorphology towards development studies; and

• Focusing the right type of science at the right level to enable appropriate and scale sensitive management regimes with complementarity between scales and approaches.

At both spatial and temporal scales, there is need for more explicit use of scientific approaches, and to develop tools that can link analyses from different spatial and temporal scales. The use of multi-level analytical frameworks (see example in Figure 3.14) can provide the necessary diagnostic, process and problem-solving tools.

Tools for Livelihood Analysis

Livelihood analysis seeks to identify gender sensitivities and community organization roles in natural resources use and management. It is a vital diagnostic tool component since it incorporates stakeholders who are a critical driving variable in natural resources dynamics. This approach identifies strategies of natural resources utilization adopted by rural households, problems and constraints as well as opportunities and challenges of land users. Livelihood analysis also reveals available ecological, socio-economic, socio-cultural and human potential that underpins the capacity to respond to change. Information on livelihood strategies facilitates linking resource dynamics with specific livelihood strategies, assessing the impacts of policy recommendations and targeting appropriate technologies.


Figure 3.14: The Multi-Level Analytical Framework (MLAF) to the Management of Natural Resources

Adapted from Campbell et al., (2003)

Tools for Policy Analysis

Policy framework and institutions impact natural resource use. In some instances, existing institutions that regulate property access and property resources such as forests, water, pasture, and fisheries may inadvertently be responsible for environmental degradation. In many African countries, there are no concrete land use policy frameworks and environmental legislations to provide holistic frameworks for the use and protection of natural ecosystems. For example, in Kenya, the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, 1999 and National Land policy of 2009 does not provide adequate protection of natural resources (e.g. soil biodiversity is not addressed). Holistic frameworks focus upon diverse ecological and social contexts and must involve local people in the planning and implementation of projects linked to the use and development of land resources (Campbell, 2004).

Tools for Resources Status Analysis and Dynamics
a) Characteristics of land use potential

Analysis of land use potential reveals ecological potentials for various uses of the land such as forestry, crop agriculture, dairy farming, crop-livestock production enterprises, etc. Since the water factor in climate places important restrictions on land uses in relation to the capacity of ecosystems to support specific land use activities, detailed analysis of rainfall patterns and critical rainfall thresholds for various land use activities are important.

b) Indigenous knowledge systems and perceptions about natural resources.

Local people have developed land use strategies. Indigenous pools of knowledge, often transmitted across generations, on various aspects such as soil types, animal breeds, ethno botanical perspectives of plant materials, pharmacological utility and value of a myriad of plant species, sensitivity and resilience of plant materials to perturbations and environmental dynamics in relation to intensities of natural resources use. These information systems need to be synthesized and integrated with scientific innovations in order to broaden social acceptability and applicability of innovations arising from the joint efforts of all stakeholders in natural resources management.

c) Field assessment of physical and biological resources.

In fragile ecosystems such as semi-arid ecosystems where aridity is a pervasive factor driving ecosystem change, use of empirical models can serve as important tools for assessments of land degradation. Such models may be used to predict land degradation in scenarios where the model conditions are satisfied. Land degradation may also be evaluated by means of GPS surveillance techniques and interpretations of high resolution satellite imagery. Land cover changes may be evaluated by means of Geospatial technologies such as geographical information systems (Loveland et al., 2000; Schmidt-Vogt, 2000).

It may be instrumental to use geospatial technologies in analysis of spatial-temporal flows of resources such as nutrient cycling (nutrient flows), water budgets (water flows) in order to determine sustainability of resource use. Community participatory models may also be employed to facilitate gathering of semi-quantitative data to develop scenarios of resource flows through participatory mapping, monitoring and field measurements. Resource flow analyses to determine the processes underlying biodiversity erosion, sensitivity of resources to anthropogenic pressures under different management regimes and ecological implications of anthropogenic related climate change on ecosystem integrity, soil fertility, ground water etc. may produce important data for assessment of resource resilience, resource use risk and in predictions of sustainability of resource use.

d) Holistic system analysis

Current theoretical frameworks suggest that in spite of system complexity, certain key variables often drive system complexity. These key variables are enmeshed in the socio-economic and ecological frameworks. Rainfall variability is a pervasive factor driving natural resource dynamics in dry environments. Key response variables that influence key intervention points in natural resources management are socio-economic factors that embrace population dynamics, capital differentials associated with local traditional production systems, and accessibility to markets among others.

Problem solving tools embrace technological innovations from national and international research networks; testing and screening of technological innovations and policy options under on-station and farm conditions. In order to credibly characterize the links between investments and outcomes, four key steps are suggested:

i). Participatory systems thinking approach is needed to define problems;

ii). Strong evidence-base is required to further characterise links between cause and effect (e.g. investments and outcomes);

iii). Sensitivity assessment is required to simplify relationships to the core controlling variables and identify a suite of interventions likely to achieve the desired outcomes;

iv). Impact of interventions need to be updated through a process of adaptive learning, involving follow up monitoring and modelling review.

Process and Information Management Tools for Scaling Out INRM

According to Campbell et al., (2003), tools for operationalizing INRM include, among others):

1. Systems modelling: It enables users to understand and predict the behaviour of complex systems that are characterized by non-linearity’s, time delays, and feedbacks; it also allows stakeholders from “different sides of the fence” to start building common concepts and language.

2. Participatory action research with stakeholders: Crucial adaptations of general methods cannot be achieved without feedback from our clients.

3. Decision and negotiation support tools: These are practical forms of system models.

4. Multiscale databases: Theory can only be applied with success if site- and situation-specific data are available; this is crucial for up scaling and out scaling.

5. Impact assessment: This is a key feature since it helps in adaptation, performance enhancement, negotiation, and allocation decisions.

6. Geographical information systems (GIS).

For decades, holistic and multidisciplinary approaches to natural resource management have been accepted in principle in scientific research, such as Farming Systems Research, Eco-regional Research, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM), Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) (CBNRM is exhaustively discussed in Chapter 4). Over time, these approaches evolved from being “descriptive” (stating how the main state variables change in time and in response to key environmental drivers) to being more “explanatory” (showing the underlying relations between variables and the environment of the system, and hence explaining why processes proceed as they do). Exploratory modelling (“what if?”) then becomes feasible at least in confined geographical areas. During the same period, participatory approaches gained significant momentum and it is now recognized that farmers’ socio-economic context is at least as diverse as their biophysical environment. This does not ease the development of models, which combine socio-economic and biophysical data and clarifies that any related up scaling is only possible with significant loss of information. However, the integration of different scales remains important at least from the biophysical perspective (e.g., for the analysis of offsite effects, groundwater depletion, etc), while interventions have to be client-, location-, and scale-specific.

In view of the complexity of natural resources management having technical, social, economic, institutional, and policy dimensions, the need to develop new models that have significant impacts in solving NRM problems have been recognized by Campbell et al., (2003). During the last decade or so, NRM research has produced multidisciplinary approaches including eco-agriculture, integrated conservation and development, integrated watershed management and integrated natural resources management that consist of advanced tools for solving some problems associated with NRM.

It is apparent from these approaches that management scenarios (see details of scenarios in Chapter 6) and technologies, policies and institutional frameworks, distribution of benefits, power relations and interests may not necessarily be in balance. Risks may exceed management capacity, ecological processes may be disrupted, economic forces may outstrip conservation forces, cultural and ownership patterns associated with management may be no longer in operation. What is required in NRM is a new conceptual and overarching framework that would integrate these different tools in order to satisfy the needs of real-life NRM problems. The natural environment is so complex that simplification through abstraction is necessary to communicate concepts and relationships, to comprehend possible reactions, and to decide upon a course of action for management. Today, nearly every decision concerning the management of natural resources is based on a model of one kind or another. Modelling in Natural Resource Management offers a much-needed overview of the basic principles for understanding and evaluating models. Modelling in Natural Resource Management brings the best and most current information that is applicable on the ground and able to provide a valuable reference both for scientists involved with issues of natural resource management and for managers who apply the science to real-world problems.


Figure 3.15: Biophysical Processes at Different Spatial Scales of Analysis

Modified from Harrington et al., 2001

Measurement tools allow us to understand cause-and-effect links, trace and even anticipate the consequences of interventions, and understand biophysical processes at any scale of analysis. Indicators of sustainability fall into this area, as do most modelling approaches. In this vein, ecosystems analysis provides an analytical framework that makes it easier to understand the consequences of changes in both short- and long-term states at a range of scales. The processes can be linked conceptually within a framework as shown in Figure 3.15 and the effects of given scenarios can be quantified using simulation models linked to spatial and temporal databases through GIS. Thus, at the plot level, scale changes are specific but at the landscape level, there are many factors and processes that are in play.

Most models need to be refined in the critical areas of edaphic and pest (insects, pathogens, and weeds) interactions and constraints. Ecosystems analysis can provide two critical services at relatively minor cost:

i). Assessment of both genetic and environmental productivity and sustainability and;

ii). A framework for impact assessment and the definition of problem-cause relationships, especially those involving biophysical processes, and how those relationships affect system productivity and sustainability. INRM will fail if we do not have a problem focus and include plenty of work to identify intervention points; we cannot simply conduct academic work on measurement tools.

Obviously, putting the persons (the poor) managing agricultural and natural resources, including water, at the centre of attention and underlining the means they need to have at their disposal for improved management, emphasizes their livelihoods.

The role of integrated natural resource management in “delivering the goods,” that is, in fostering improvements in the livelihoods of large numbers of the poor, is often referred to as scaling out. This phrase conceals as much as it clarifies, because the notion of “scale” is perceived in many different ways, among them:

Scale of analysis: from plant, to plot, to farm, to watershed, and to region;

Scale of intervention point: high-level interventions such as policy changes, adjustments in institutional arrangements or property rights, and the fostering of collective action vs. lower-level interventions such as farmer experimentation or extension for specific practices;

Scale of investment in intervention strategies: small vs. large investments in extension, farmer experimentation programmes, or efforts to provide information to policy makers;

Scale of community empowerment: the number of communities able to undertake their own research and adaptation through processes for local learning;

Scale of geographical coverage of an INRM practice: whether it is limited to a village or watershed or has attained regional or national relevance;

Scale of impact: for example, the extent to which desirable outcomes, e.g., improved system productivity and resource quality, have been achieved through INRM research.

In principle, these scales are linked. Greater impacts are generated from higher levels of investment in suitable intervention strategies, or from more efficient use of these investments through greater reliance on community empowerment, leading to expanded geographical coverage of suitable practices. The heart of scaling up is anticipating, modelling, monitoring, and assessing positive or negative externalities, unconsidered complexities, or unintended consequences that emerge at higher scales of analysis from widespread scaling out, and then contributing to the management of these factors.

Methods and Tools of Scaling Out INRM

The methods and tools discussed include site similarity analysis through GIS, the linking of simulation models with GIS, and the use of farmer and land type categories. Although, in most instances, the tools and methods show considerable promise for use in scaling out INRM practices, on-the-ground experience remains insufficient. The strengths and weaknesses of these methods and tools are presented in Table 3.1.

Table 3.1: Weaknesses and Strengths of Selected Methods and Tools for Scaling Out INRM

Tool or method



Site similarity analysis

■ Simple tools available

■ Conceptually accessible

■ May oversimplify,

■ Criteria for similarity often subjective,

Interfacing GIS with models

■ Allows examination of time trends, including climatic risk

■ Can express outputs in terms of specific variables of interest to stakeholders

■ Dependent on quality of model

■ Requires specialists to implement

Land type and farmer categories

■ Outputs conceptually accessible

■ Outputs suitable for use by extension workers and farmer experimenters

■ Outputs possibly too subjective

■ Labour-intensive data acquisition.

■ May ignore interactions across land types within a household

Participatory extension, e.g., whole family training

■ Outputs readily accessible to farm families

■ Can be scaled up in terms of organizational capacity required for implementation

■ Deals only with the family as a unit, does not extend to collective action at the community level

■ Does not have an explicit spatial dimension

A recurring question in efforts to scale out promising interventions is how a practice developed at one location will perform over a broader range of environments. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can address such concerns, allowing scientists to share relevant results with colleagues elsewhere, to find new sites for testing and adapting discoveries, and to design more effective research programmes (Corbett et al., 1999). One simple GIS-based approach is to identify areas that are similar to a given location, using criteria relevant to the problem at hand.

INRM and Conflicts Management

In INRM, the stakeholders are very diverse, including: property owners and resource users, community based organizations, government officials and politicians; NGOs and parastatal organizations; research and development institutions including the academe; the business sectors, among others. This apparent diversity in NRM stakeholders gives rise to conflicting motivations and aspirations; if left unattended, such conflicts can border on hostilities. Chapter 4 discusses conflict management in community based natural resource management, causes and types of conflicts and strategies for conflict management.

Sources and Levels of Conflicts

Conflict over natural resources such as land, water, and forests is ubiquitous (Ortiz, 1999). These conflicts are disagreements and disputes over access to, and control and use of, natural resources. Disagreements also arise when these interests and needs are incompatible, or when the priorities of some user groups are not considered in policies, programmes and projects. People every where have competed for the natural resources they need or want to ensure or enhance their livelihoods. However, the dimensions, level, and intensity of conflict vary greatly.

According to Chenier et al., 1999, conflicts over natural resources may have class dimensions, pitting those who own the resource against those who own nothing but whose work makes the resource productive. Political dimensions may dominate where the state has a keen interest in a public good such as conservation (Fisher et al., 1999) or in maintaining the political alliances it needs to remain in power (Suliman, 1999). Differences in gender, age, and ethnicity may inform the use of natural resources, bringing to the fore, cultural and social dimensions of conflict (Hirsch et al., 1999). Even the identification of natural resource problems may be contested in light of different information sources, world views, and values (Pérez Arrarte and Scarlato, 1999).

Conflicts over natural resources can take place at a variety of levels, from within the household to local, regional, societal, and global scales. Furthermore, conflict may cut across these levels through multiple points of contact. Conflicts occurring mainly in local contexts may extend to national and global levels because of their special legal relevance (Weitzner and Fonseca Borrás, 1999) or as a result of efforts by local actors to influence broader decision-making processes (Oveido, 1999). The intensity of conflict may also vary enormously from confusion and frustration among members of a community over poorly communicated development policies (Kant and Cooke, 1999) to violent clashes between groups over resource ownership rights and responsibilities (Chenier et al., 1999).

With reduced government power in many regions, natural resource management decisions are increasingly influenced by the resource users, who include small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples as well as ranchers, large-scale landowners, and private corporations in industries such as forestry, mining, hydropower, and agribusiness. Resources may be used by some in ways that undermine the livelihoods of others. Power differences between groups can be enormous and the stakes a matter of survival. The resulting conflicts often lead to chaotic and wasteful deployment of human capacities and the depletion of the very natural resources on which livelihoods, economies, and societies are based. They may also lead to bloodshed.

It is widely believed that resource-use-conflicts are the main environmental problems and the obstacles for local and regional sustainable development due to population pressure and economic driving forces. For example, most development models of regional governments use a demand-oriented approach or market-based model to determine regional socio-economic development objectives. Such an approach is short-sighted, and may cause conflicts and disputes in natural resource use, and lead to the over-exploitation, degradation and depletion of natural resources. Therefore, a demand-oriented approach is not a sustainable development model.

Methods and Tools for Conflict Analysis

Addressing conflict is a prerequisite for sustainable natural resource management. Conflicts over natural resources are growing in scope, magnitude and intensity. If not addressed in an effective and timely manner, natural resource conflicts can adversely affect community livelihoods and result in resource degradation. Alternative conflict management offers an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to understanding, analysing and managing conflicts both before and after they occur. It seeks the development of participatory and consensus-building strategies, and it builds upon existing formal and informal conflict management mechanisms within local communities. Alternative conflict management also seeks to strengthen the capacity of local institutions and communities to manage conflict and promote sustainable resource management.

Appropriate conflict management and resolution strategies need to be incorporated into natural resource management policies, programmes and projects. Many methods and tools are available for analyzing conflicts (see Table 3.2) No single set of procedures or practices works for all situations. Nevertheless, guiding principles for what strategies and techniques are available, and what sort of information might be gathered are available. For example:

a) conflict analysis must be based on a wide range of views about the sources of conflict. Conflicts are about perceptions and the meanings that people attribute to events, policies and institutions;

b) conflict analysis helps stakeholders to reconsider their perspectives, which are often heavily influenced by emotions, misunderstandings, assumptions, suspicions and mistrust;

c) conflict analysis must examine the broader development context (social, economic, political) and not just consider natural resource management concerns;

d) any conflict analysis is only preliminary and must be refined and studied carefully as the process gets under way;

e) conflict analysis is not an end in itself. It is part of the process of defining and learning about the issues (capacity building). For this learning process to happen, conflict analysis must be carried out in a participatory manner. Through exchanges of information it becomes more likely that people will focus on real problems in the negotiation process. However, people are likely to be cautious about revealing some types of information, and;

f) it is important to know what is worth knowing. The type and amount of information needed from conflict analysis varies from case to case. While it is often assumed that more information is better than less, not all information may be relevant, truthful or useful.

Table 3.2: Examples of Simple, Practical and Adaptable Tools for Analyzing Conflicts



Root cause analysis

To help stakeholders examine the origins and underlying causes of conflict.

Issue analysis

To examine the issues that contribute to conflict and the specific issues that give rise to a specific conflict in more detail, focusing on five categories:

1) problems with information;

2) conflicting interests;

3) difficult relationships;

4) structural inequalities;

5) conflicting values.

Stakeholder identification and analysis

To identify and assess the dependency and power of different stakeholders in a conflict.

4Rs analysis (rights, responsibilities, returns, relationships)

To examine the rights, responsibilities and benefits of different stakeholders in relation to natural resources, as part of improving understanding of a conflict.

To examine the relationships among (or within) different stakeholder groups.

Conflict time line

To assist stakeholders in examining the history of a conflict and to improve their understanding of the sequence of events that led to the conflict.

Mapping conflict over resource use

To show geographically where land or resource use conflicts exist or may exist in the future.

To determine the primary issues of conflict.

Analysis of the causes of conflict begins with identifying and describing the conflict, its boundaries and interrelationships. These elements may include: the origins, levels and issues of conflict; the history and chronology of events; geographical and temporal relationships; interrelationships with other conflicts; and earlier attempts to resolve the conflict.

INRM stakeholder analysis is a necessary step, to identify the most significant stakeholder, their roles and relations. A number of methods exist to decide how these should be dealt with. Manjengwa (2009) and Catacutan and Tanui (2007) present some guidelines for stakeholder engagement as follows:

a) Master the stakeholders. A fundamental step in engaging stakeholders in NRM is to master their nature, interests and positions. As mentioned earlier, this can be done only through stakeholder analysis and mapping. This allows for better understanding of the stakeholders’ in terms of their legitimacy, power and interest on the issues at hand.

b) Make use of existing structures. As far as possible, avoid re-organizing structures that are already there. Analyze the strengths, weakness, gaps and improvements needed within existing working structures, and introduce new structures only where necessary - innovate, rather than re-invent.

c) Allow time for trust building. Trust building and relationships do not happen just magically.

d) Ensure clarity of goals, costs and benefits. Work towards defining a clear set of goals and identifying the costs and benefits of the engagement. Build consensus on the terms of engagement, rather than push on external rules. Making false hopes is dangerous.

e) Transparency. Work on maintaining transparency at all times. Coming to terms with what is available and doable at the onset is practical and beneficial to all stakeholders. Although sky is the limit, when it comes to opportunities in engaging stakeholders, it is better to be transparent about the potential constraints so that early or mid-course actions can be easily detected.

f) Knowledge management. Be clear about what needs to be monitored, assessed/evaluated and or documented at the onset. Stakeholder engagement is a journey of complex processes - without learning from it is a wasteful endeavour.

Conflict Management

According to Chevalier and Buckles, (1995), Conflicts are only fully resolved when the underlying sources of tension between parties are removed, a state of affairs that may be antithetical to social life. For those who view conflict as a normal and potentially positive feature of human societies, conflict should not be eliminated through “resolution” but rather “managed” so that it does not lead to violence but achieve change. In contrast to litigation and other confrontational modes of conflict resolution, alternative dispute resolution refers to a variety of collaborative approaches including conciliation, negotiation, and mediation (Pendzich et al., 1994; Moore, 1996). Conciliation consists of an attempt by a neutral third party to communicate separately with disputing parties to reduce tensions and reach agreement on a process for addressing a dispute. Negotiation is a voluntary process in which parties meet “face to face” to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the issues in a conflict. Mediation involves the assistance of a neutral third party, a mediator, who helps the parties in conflict jointly reach agreement in a negotiation process but has no power to direct the parties or enforce a solution to the dispute. Through alternate dispute resolution multiparty “win–win” options are sought by focusing on the problem (not the person) and by creating awareness of interdependence among stakeholders.

Although these approaches to conflict management are appealing, do the principles really work in conflicts involving natural resources? Techniques of alternative dispute resolution depend on both cultural and legal conditions, such as a willingness to publicly acknowledge a conflict, and administrative and financial support for negotiated solutions (Pendzich et al., 1994). They also depend on the voluntary participation of all relevant stakeholders. These conditions are not present in many contexts in both the North and the South. Enlightened self-interest among stake holders may not be apparent or sufficiently urgent in situations involving the interests of national elites or others with coercive measures at their disposal. Alternative dispute resolution may even be counterproductive if the process only manages to get certain groups together to mediate their differences when the causes of conflict and obstacles to resolution are beyond their control. It is also critical to recognize that although negotiation, mediation, and conciliation are seen as best alternatives, people in diverse societies use other “mechanisms to handle disputes at a local level, including peer pressure, gossip, ostracism, violence, public humiliation, witchcraft, and spiritual healing”.

There are several strategies that local communities, resource users, project managers and public officials can use to manage and to resolve conflicts.

Strategies for Conflict Management

Customary Systems for Managing Conflict

A vast repertoire of local-level strategies and techniques for managing and resolving conflicts regarding natural resources has evolved within communities. There are many cross-cultural similarities – negotiation, mediation and arbitration are common practices, as are more coercive, as mentioned earlier, measures such as peer pressure, gossip, ostracism, supernatural sanctions and violence. Customary natural resource conflict management strategies have both strengths and limitations.

Table 3.3: Strengths and Limitations of Customary Natural Resource Conflict Management Strategies



Encourage participation by community members and respect local values and customs.

Have been supplanted by courts and administrative laws.

Are more accessible because of their low cost, their flexibility in scheduling and procedures, and their use of the local language.

Are often inaccessible to people on the basis of gender, class, caste and other factors.

Encourage decision-making based on cost, their flexibility in scheduling and from wide-ranging discussions, often fostering local reconciliation.

Are challenged by the increasing heterogeneity of communities due to cultural change, population movements and other factors that have eroded the social relationships that supported customary conflict management.

Contribute to processes of community empowerment.

Often cannot accommodate conflicts between communities or between a community and the State.

National Legal Systems

National legal systems governing natural resource management are based on legislation and policy statements, including regulatory and judicial administrations. Adjudication and arbitration are the main strategies for addressing conflicts. However, some national systems take into account legal systems based on local custom, religion, ethnic group or other entities.

Table 3.4: Strengths and Limitations of National Legal Systems



Are officially established with supposedly well-defined procedures.

Are often inaccessible to the poor, women, and marginalized groups and to remote communities because of cost, distance, language barriers, political obstacles, illiteracy and discrimination.

Take national and international concerns and issues into consideration.

May not consider indigenous knowledge, local institutions and long-term community needs in decision-making.

Involve judicial and technical specialists in decision-making.

May involve judicial and technical specialists who lack the expertise, skills and orientation required for participatory natural resource management.

Result in decisions that are legally binding.

Use procedures that are generally adversarial and promote a winner-loser situation.

Alternative Conflict Management

The multidisciplinary field of alternative conflict management addresses natural resource conflicts through promotion of joint decision- making. It arose in part as a response to the adversarial style of managing conflicts used by legal systems. The field also draws upon conflict management strategies long relied upon by communities in settling their disputes. Practitioners use methods such as negotiation and mediation to help parties reach a consensus. The goal is to seek long-term mutual gain for all stakeholders.

Specifically, alternative conflict management interventions aim to:

i). Improve communication and information sharing among interest groups; address the causes of conflicts in a collaborative manner;

ii). Transform the conflict management process into a force;

iii). Promote positive social change;

iv). Build the capacity of communities to manage their conflicts; and

v). Limit the occurrence and intensity of future conflicts.

While alternative conflict management usually addresses specific latent and manifest conflicts, it supports broader changes in society to address the root causes of conflict. Table 3.5 summarizes the strengths and limitations regarding natural resource conflicts. Alternative conflict management is gaining popularity, due in part to its capacity to address – in a participatory and consensus-building manner – complex situations with many stakeholders. For such an approach to work effectively, conflict management procedures need to be considered from the earliest stage, and stakeholder consultations need to be thorough.

Table 3.5: Strengths and Limitations of Alternative Conflict Management Interventions



Promote conflict management and resolution by building upon shared interests and finding points of agreement.

May encounter difficulties in getting all stakeholders to the bargaining table.

Involve processes which resemble those already existing in most local conflict management systems, including flexible and low cost access.

May not be able to overcome power differentials among stakeholders, so that vulnerable groups such as the poor, women and indigenous people remain marginalized.

Foster a sense of ownership in the solution process of implementation.

May result in decisions that are not legally binding.

Emphasize building capacity within communities so local people become more effective facilitators, communicators, planners and handlers of conflicts.

May lead some practitioners to use methods developed in other countries and settings without adapting them to local contexts.

The case of Mt Elgon presented in Box 3.1 describes some issues in stakeholder engagement with deep historical conflict over natural resources.

Box 3.1: Mt. Elgon National Park and the Benet

Mitigation and Adaptations Strategies in INRM

The terms mitigation and adaptation are strategies that can be applied in Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM). The concept of adaptation for instance can be used to describe how systems, both natural and human, evolve over time when faced with environmental changes. Most spontaneous or autonomous adaptations have taken place as part of the evolutionary processes through which biotic communities have migrated or modified their structures and functions in order to accommodate shifts in temperatures, rainfall, available nutrients and habitat. Similarly, in the face of climate change, the global community, nations and local communities are undertaking action along two primary tracks: mitigation – the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and, thereby, associated climate change; and adaptation – the process of adjusting in response to, or in anticipation of, climate change. In anticipation of foreseeable shocks, vulnerable communities have long employed adaptive measures. Today, adaptation is considered a central element in societies’ efforts to cope with the expected shocks and climatic shifts associated with climate change.

The conservation of natural systems is critical for disaster risk mitigation: Conservation is “imperative”: the conservation of nature to reduce vulnerability to disasters may present one of the greatest and most-consistently under-valued natural services provided by biodiversity. The protective value of ecosystems may exceed income from the use of their resources. Ecosystems’ protective services, such as the prevention of erosion, floods, landslides, avalanches, cyclones and other natural and unnatural disasters, deserve far more attention when it comes to assessing their value. For example, the loss of vegetative cover on steep hillsides contributes to runoff and slope failure due to the loss of stabilizing root structures. Trees in a mixed forest also catch snow and hold it, preventing avalanche. The draining of swamps and clearing of mangrove wetlands may disrupt natural runoff patterns and magnify flood hazards. Local clearing of cover vegetation can prolong dry periods, changing the reflectivity of the land surface and accelerating soil loss. Paving of surfaces decreases infiltration and increases runoff, exacerbating the impacts of high rainfall events on river flow regimes. River levees that are built to provide flood protection can destroy riparian habitat and heighten downstream floods. Forest fire suppression may increase the magnitude of fires, when they escape control, and the replacement of traditional forms of multicrop agriculture by monocrop practices may increase farmers’ vulnerability to climate related extremes. Some of the natural resource management tools that could be useful in addressing vulnerability to climate change, and which have been applied as drought-proofing and/or anti-desertification techniques around the world include:

Soil Management: This approach for increasing the stability and productivity of soil is a general term that involves a range of specific techniques such as fallow cycling, forest buffering, selective planting, managed grazing, etc. Soil management is recognized as central to combating desertification;

Water harvesting technique: Around the world, this approach has many variants – from the construction of johads (earthen dams) in Northwest India, to rooftop collection in the Caribbean, to the forest zai in West Africa – and many champions. Water harvesting techniques have been used as a drought proofing tool to increase water available for households, irrigation, as well as baseline water flow for watershed restoration. (In Western Sudan, for instance, the trunk of the Adansonia digtata tree is used for water harvesting, purification and storage);

Windbreak Construction - As wind erosion contributes significantly to the process of desertification, a number of environmental management methods have been applied, both through formal desertification projects and autonomous activities of farmers, to reduce its effect. Replanting of indigenous trees and shrubs for windbreaks, as well as ridging, mulching and rock bunds, are but a few methods;

Intercropping - The technique of planting selected food crops within stands of trees (e.g., in the case of Sudan, gum Arabic stands) can provide local communities with added food security and income through livelihood diversification, while at the same time reducing deforestation and desertification;

Adaptation through Conservation: The potential for targeted natural resource management to play a key role in the toolkit of disaster mitigation and adaptation strategies is based on the range of benefits hypothesized: reduction in vulnerability, biodiversity conservation, enhanced livelihood security among the poorest and most vulnerable, and greater carbon sink capacity. Conservation of natural resources in support of livelihoods can address the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable, in contrast to large-scale structural adaptation strategies;

Biodiversity: This provides many direct benefits, including the natural resource base essential for many livelihoods, genetic material for breeding and new medicines, aesthetic beauty, and tourism revenues. Moreover, according to the World Resources Institute, “the diversity of species undergirds the ability of an ecosystem to provide most of its other goods and services. Reducing the biodiversity of an ecosystem may well diminish its resilience to disturbance, increase its susceptibility to disease outbreaks and decrease productivity”. In addition to directly providing livelihoods, therefore, biodiversity is important in ensuring the long-term viability of natural buffer systems in the face of disaster;

• Adaptation measures focused on enhanced natural resource management can also more effectively benefit the poor than large-scale structural measures. It is the poor who are most dependent on natural resources, both directly for their livelihoods, and for succour during times of crisis. It is also the poor, who live on marginal lands and in vulnerable locations, who would benefit most directly from enhanced resource management. Coping strategies typically employed in the wake of a disaster include changing the mix of livelihoods, creating new livelihoods, seeking new sources of resources (by force of arms or otherwise), and migrating. The poor usually have the least choice among strategies, receive the least assistance from government authorities and are therefore most dependent on the state of the environment for providing alternative livelihoods. Thus, investing in the natural resource base that sustains their livelihoods may have a direct positive impact on their immediate lives and long-term resilience to climate variability;

• A number of environmental management-based adaptation activities can also serve as mitigation measures. For example, sustainable rangelands management activities have in the past been employed in a number of countries in Africa to combat desertification. In order to mobilize the economic potential of natural resources for the benefit of the entire population, a framework of good local governance and an assured involvement of civil society and the private sector is needed. The work of Inter-cooperation in natural resources management aims at a balance between production and protection for the benefit of the poor. Short-term needs of increased production have to be reconciled with longer term conservation interests.

Integration of Technology and Indigenous Knowledge in INRM

According to World Bank, (1998), Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is used at the local level by communities as the basis for decisions pertaining to food security, human and animal health, education, natural resources management, and other vital activities. IK is a key element of the social capital of the poor and constitutes the main asset in their efforts to gain control of their own lives. For these reasons, the potential contribution of IK to locally managed, sustainable and cost-effective survival strategies should be promoted in the development process.

Indigenous institutionsindigenous appropriate technology, and low-cost approaches can increase the efficiency of development programmes because IK is a locally owned and managed resource. Building on IK can be particularly effective in helping to reach the poor since IK is often the only asset they control, and certainly one with which they are very familiar. Utilizing IK helps to increase the sustainability of development efforts because the IK integration process provides for mutual learning and adaptation, which in turn contributes to the empowerment of local communities. Since efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability are key determinants of the quality of development work, harnessing indigenous knowledge has a clear development business case. Early indications point to significant improvements in development project quality if IK is leveraged with modern technologies.

Participation by the local community in development initiatives such as decision making and policy planning processes is critical for achieving sound natural resource management to utilize the full potential of IK systems. IK plays an important role in sustainable management of natural resources and can also have an impact on issues of global concern. However, sustainable development may be served better by a system that incorporates both indigenous and scientific knowledge systems which means integrating information collected from farmers with scientific information and technology as demonstrated in Figure 3.16.


Figure 3.16: The Relative Adoption Potential and Contribution to Soil Fertility Enhancement for Various Tested Soil Fertility Management Interventions.

Source: Sanginga and Woomer, 2009

Different soil fertility management technologies may be grouped in terms of effectiveness and potential for widespread adoption:

• Technologies appearing in Quadrant A have reduced potential in terms of their productivity gains and adoption by small-scale farmers;

• Technologies in Quadrant B are attractive to small-scale farmers but usually do not result in farm-level benefits. Use of low quality crop residues or insufficient and improperly handled livestock manures in absence of mineral fertilizers provides too few nutrients for substantial gains in field crop production;

• Practices in Quadrant C have proven abilities to increase nutrient supply and improve both crop productivity and nutrient use efficiency, but they remain unattractive to farmers for a variety of reasons;

• However, the technologies capable of delivering rapid benefits to large numbers in sub-Saharan Africa are presented within Quadrant D. Fertilizer micro-dosing involves spot placement of fertilizers, sometimes timed to rainfall in split applications. In semi-arid areas, ISFM practices may be strategically combined with water harvesting, usually through the creation of mini-catchments within the field. Combining cereal and grain legumes through rotation, intercropping and relays and providing these crops with strategically applied mineral fertilizers and organic inputs are a key to ISFM and food security in Africa. In the case of crop rotations, additional information is required on optimal crop sequencing and for crop intercropping, adjustments must be made in row spacing, orientation and crop combinations. In many cases, biological nitrogen fixation by field legumes can be increased through inoculation with elite strains of their microsymbiont rhizobia made available to the host through improved delivery systems.


The documentation and mapping of indigenous knowledge and traditional knowledge helps to preserve and honour knowledge held by local people whose ancestors have long inhabited a region, or people who are new to a region and bring their own traditions to a new community. Proper storage and management of such knowledge must be ensured if the information is to be made available and accessible for quick analysis and manipulation to all those who need it, e.g., planners and decision makers involved in the management of land resources. Programmes involving the integration of GIS and IK have for the most part been used within natural resource management projects where increased food or income source choices for communities and effective participation in benefits are the main goals (Mbile et al., 2003). GIS technology is an important decision-making tool for Natural Resource Management used to also address the problems associated with the storage, analysis and processing of indigenous information. It is also employed in the integration of scientific and indigenous information.

Many researchers have integrated indigenous knowledge into GIS for various purposes. Though almost all approaches are participatory in nature, the application has differed according to the needs and objectives of the project or the community where such an approach is used. Waldron and Sui (1999) have described the use of GIS for integrating indigenous knowledge for land suitability analysis. Gonzalez (1995) used participatory approaches for integrating IK into GIS for natural resource management. All the approaches adopted by researchers for integrating GIS and indigenous knowledge for natural resource management have been participatory in nature involving local inhabitants (Tipathi and Bhattarya, 2004). Participatory GIS is widely used for community mapping or for participatory resource mapping with little variation in techniques and participatory tools used by different researchers (Tipathi and Bhattarya, 2004). In Uganda, the Indigenous Knowledge has been integrated in national programmes (Case Study 3.4).

Case study 3.4: Utilization of IK in Agriculture and Health sectors in Uganda

Technological Intervention in the Natural Resource Management practices as implemented by resource managers such as farmers, communities, fishers, and forest dwellers are typically complex. Rules governing the use of land and water resources or forest or fishery stocks are usually complicated and difficult for outsiders to understand. However, intervention points, including new technologies or practices for resource use, can be relatively simple. Interventions are usefully seen as options or alternatives for exploration by resource users, who can best judge the attractiveness of an option by testing it under local circumstances.

Even for simple interventions, however, the consequences of widespread adoption can be hugely complicated. The introduction of relatively simple options can significantly change farming or resource management systems and their accompanying biophysical processes and system outcomes. For example, farmers who deal with irrigated crop systems use complex practices to manage soil fertility and water quantity and quality. These include managing crop residues, fertilizers, and farmyard manure; arranging for biomass transfer from outside the farm; choosing alternative fuels for household use; deciding among alternative uses for canal and tube well water; making decisions related to the timing and frequency of irrigation; and selecting crops for well-drained vs. poorly drained areas, among other things (Fujisaka, et al., 1994).

However, the introduction of a relatively simple practice such as zero-tillage crop establishment can improve the timeliness of sowing, increase the efficiency of water and nutrient use, reduce water pumping, stop groundwater depletion, reduce fuel use, drastically lower carbon emissions, change crop rotations to take advantage of the earlier grain-crop sowing, and change soil chemistry and soil health via new rotations (Hobbs and Morris, 1996). Some of these consequences, e.g., changes in the quality and quantity of groundwater, may become apparent only at higher scales of analysis. A good understanding of ecological, biophysical, economic, and social processes is needed to anticipate, model, assess, and manage such changes. Otherwise, farmers and scientists alike can only react to changes as they unfold.

Summary and Conclusions

In this chapter, it has been shown that INRM is the result of an evolution of learning from experiences with many participatory development planning and researched approaches. INRM is an approach to research and development that builds the capacity of communities and other natural resource managers to manage change in sustainable ways. The historical evolution of INRM school of thought reflects developments in the research, development and innovation processes. INRM acknowledges that natural resources and ecosystems are inherently indeterminate and complex entities, involving the interactions and co-learning of a network of actors, of which communities and researchers are just part. The focus of INRM is that of a shift from resource accountability to supporting learning and adaptive management of all the stakeholders and components involved in managing an ecosystem or natural resource.

The natural resource components such as biodiversity, water, air, soil etc. are interrelated and impacts on one component affects the other components. Similarly, Natural Resources Systems are holistic and impacts at any point in the system create chain interactions that determine ecosystem health. Human beings depend on the exploitation of natural resources for subsistence and income. Therefore, management interventions must take cognizance of the inter-relatedness of the natural resources usage. Natural resource management is congruent with the concept of sustainable development, a scientific principle that forms a basis for sustainable global land management and environmental governance to conserve and preserve natural resources. Natural resource management specifically focuses on a scientific and technical understanding of resources and ecology, and the life-supporting capacity of those resources.

Integrated Natural Resources Management helps in solving complex real-world problems affecting natural resources in order to improve livelihoods, agro-ecosystem resilience, agricultural productivity and environmental services. Natural resources management remains complex and specific to the (local) context and therefore, requires tailor-made research and development approaches. However, any natural resource management interventions must take cognizance of the interrelatedness of various components of natural resources. Hence, natural resources should be managed in such a way that human demands and use levels are permanently kept within the bounds of the resources’ natural reproduction rate. INRM that integrates multiple disciplines across spatial and temporal scales and involves stakeholders in key decisions will probably be more effective than the single-disciplinary management approaches.

INRM is of prime importance for ensuring sustainable use and conservation of natural resources. Use of INRM to tackle land degradation and other environmental problems calls for people-centered initiatives and participation of all stakeholders. INRM is a strategy that may be implemented at different scales on the different components, by various stakeholders and across several disciplines. The strategy may appear to require a lot of research but this is not exactly so. It is equally relevant and significant for farmers, communities and development agents. Research in INRM should be redirected toward enhancing adaptive capacity by incorporating more participatory approaches, by embracing key principles such as multi-scale analysis and intervention, and by the use of a variety of tools. Measurement tools allow us to understand cause-and-effect links, trace and even anticipate the consequences of interventions, and understand biophysical processes at any scale of analysis. Resource-use-conflicts are the main environmental problems and the obstacles for local and regional sustainable development due to population pressure and economic driving forces and can be only fully resolved or managed when the underlying sources of tension between parties are addressed.

INRM should incorporate both indigenous and scientific knowledge systems. This means integrating information collected from farmers with scientific information and technology. Indigenous knowledge plays an important role in sustainable management of natural resources and can also have an impact on issues of global concern.

Learning Activities

Revision Questions

1. Discuss the concepts and principles of integrated natural resource management processes.

2. Explain how natural resources interact within and among themselves and how their management and interaction relate to people and their livelihoods.

3. Why is the management of natural resources of greater societal concern today than it was 100 years ago?

4. What are the positive and negative effects of managing natural resources using the integrated approach?

5. Describe some of the Methods and Tools for scaling out INRM.

Further Reading

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Hagmann, J. R.; Chuma, E.; Murwira, K.; Connolly, M. and Ficarelli, P. (2002). Success Factors in Integrated Natural Resource Management R&D: Lessons from Practice. Conservation Ecology 5, 29. [online] URL:

Sanginga, N. and Woomer, P.L. (eds). (2009). Integrated Soil Fertility Management in Africa: Principles, Practices and Developmental Processes. Nairobi: Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. 263pp.

Woodhouse P.; Bernstein, H. and Hulme, D. (2000). African Enclosures? The Social Dynamics of Wetlands in Drylands. Oxford:James Currey.


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Atta-Krah Kwesi (2004). Integrated Natural Resources Management and Genetic Diversity: Two Sides of the Coin for Sustainable Livelihoods and Development. In African Highlands Initiatives; Integrated Natural Resources Management in Practice: Enabling Communities to Inmprove Mountain Livelihoods and Landscape. Eds. Tilahun Amede, Laura German, Sheila Rao, Chris Opondo and Ann Stroud. Conference Proceedings; 12-15 October 2004, Nairobi, Kenya.

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Community-Based Natural Resource Management

V. O. Wasonga, D. Kambewa and I. Bekalo


The preceding chapter discussed integrated approach to Natural Resource Management. The central question in Integrated Natural Resource Management is how humans should participate in the planning, allocation and management of natural resources together to reconcile ecosystems and for development interventions. This chapter provides an in-depth presentation of this scenario under Community-Based Natural Resource Management.

Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) has numerous definitions based on both process and strategy. According to Armitage (2005), CBNRM is a mechanism that addresses both environmental and social-economic goals and, therefore, balances the exploitation and conservation of valued ecosystem components through some degree of devolution of decision-making, power and authority over natural resources to communities and community-based organizations. This definition is based on the role of communities in natural resource management and participation in the development of conservation initiatives and projects. Josserand (2001) defines CBNRM as the joint management of resources by a community, based on a community strategy, done in partnership with other legitimate stakeholders. This implies that the community plays an active role in the management of natural resources, not because it asserts sole ownership over them, but because it can claim participation in their management and benefits for practical and technical reasons. Central to all these definitions is the element of long-term sustainability through broad participation of community members and resource users in decision-making (Zanetell and Knuth, 2004; Soeftestad, 2006).

The CBNRM approach has been used to correct mistakes in cases where Governments have excluded communities in the management of natural resources. For decades, Governments categorized natural resources with some attaining ‘protected areas’ status while others remained under communities. Both the disenfranchisement of communities and lack of proper management have led to degradation, and in some instances, loss of resources. Some natural resources that received ‘protected’ status have been ruined because Governments do not have the support of the communities and often because they are financially unable to sustain management of these resources. As an approach, CBNRM has been conceptualized by multiple actors including bilateral donors, the World Bank, international NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and National Governments as a way of achieving sustainable use of natural resources and economic development while improving quality of environments. There are various reasons why the CBNRM approach has gained support and publicity. At the centre of these are the reasons that the approach empowers communities, transfers ownership of resources to communities, ensures sustainability of natural resources and provides a myriad of benefits to the communities.

Since the mid 1980s, extensive scholarship has challenged Garret Hardin’s earlier assumption that the users of a commons were trapped in inexorable tragedy and unable to engage in sufficient collective action to extract themselves from drastic overuse and destruction. There is now a plethora of studies that suggest that local users themselves can and have constructed institutions to use their resources sustainably (Baland and Platteau, Berkes, Hanna, Folke and Mäler, Ostrom etc). Empirical studies have found both success and failures for all broad types of resource ownership regimes: private property, common property and government property. The evidence points to the argument that simple blue print solutions imposed externally are not the answer to resource management problems and other central problems of development.

This Chapter demystifies the concept of CBNRM and its fundamentals in order to understand the underpinning principles, ideals, application and benefits. Thus presenting, concepts and the underlying theories, frameworks, strategies and methods in the CBNRM approach.. Case studies and examples from sub-Saharan Africa are provided to show how CBNRM approach is designed and executed. It also presents the benefits of CBNRM, the mechanisms for conflict management in CBNRM, and the role of indigenous knowledge in CBNRM. The Chapter is divided into interrelated sections. In the introduction, an overview of the CBNRM approach is provided to set the stage for the entire chapter. The next section presents concepts and principles of CBNRM. The third section deals with theories and frameworks of CBNRM. The other sections include approaches to CBNRM; designing, and implementing CBNRM projects; benefits of CBNRM approach; conflict management in CBNRM; role of indigenous knowledge in CBNRM; and a summary of the chapter; in that order. After each section, learning activities are provided to help the reader reflect on the key issues covered in the chapter. At the end of the chapter, review questions are provided for the reader to assess his/her understanding of the subject. References for further reading are provided.

The overall objective of this Chapter is to enhance the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the role communities play in Natural Resource Management (NRM). Specifically, the chapter seeks to:

• Equip the reader with the underlying concepts, theories and principles of CBNRM;

• Provide the reader with various approaches including methods and tools for effective implementation of CBNRM;

• Expose the reader to emerging issues of conflicts management and indigenous knowledge in CBNRM;

• Impart knowledge and skills to enable communities to take the lead role in natural resource management.

The reader will then be able to:

• Explain concepts, theories and principles that underpin CBNRM, thereby guide practitioners and policy on CBNRM.

• Guide various processes in community participation in natural resource management including approaches, design and conflict management in CBNRM projects.

• Identify and analyze indigenous knowledge relevant to CBNRM and how this knowledge can be applied to improve the NRM.

Concepts and Principles of CBNRM

Chapter 2 gave a fuller description of NRM concepts. Before discussing the concepts and principles of CBNRM, however, it is essential to gain some basic understanding of key terminologies that will be used frequently in this chapter. These are:

CBNRM: Joint management of resources by a community, based on a community strategy, done in partnership with other legitimate stakeholders;

Community: A group of people bounded by geographical links, such as a village, settlement or district, politics or natural boundaries but also includes those brought together by lifestyle, culture, religion, hobby and interest;

Co-management: A situation in which two or more social actors negotiate, define and guarantee amongst themselves a fair sharing of the management functions, entitlements and responsibilities for a given territory, area, or a set of natural resources;

Institutions: Sets of rules or humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction;

• “Local” or “traditional” or “Indigenous” knowledge: Matured long-standing traditions and practices.

The Rationale for Community-Based Approach in NRM

The history of NRM and conservation demonstrates a preference for programmes and strategies that alienated rural communities from the resource on which they subsisted. For example, colonization by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the accompanying spread of conservation practices, did not respect the then existing traditional rights. The colonial models were based on American approach of pristine wild areas set a side for human enjoyment and fulfilment and was encouraged by concerns about the depletion of wildlife, timber, and other valuable resources. Ownership of land was gradually transferred from the traditional local authorities to the state in order to enable colonial authorities to exploit African lands, labour and resources. This shift in property rights regime became one of the main drivers of African independence movements seeking to recover entitlements to land and resources (Roe et al., 2009).

Ironically, the postcolonial governments inherited the heavily centralized control and exploitation of natural resources, thereby disenfranchising local communities from management of natural resources These resource conservation strategies, mainly characterized by top-down approaches, generated conflicts between rural communities and conservation agencies because the indigenous rural economies were directly linked to the same natural resource base. This led to resentment and apathy by rural communities towards any conservation attempts and consequently a trend of declining natural resources.

Since 1980s, there has been a shift from the predominantly preservationist and state-driven strategies of natural resources management to a collaborative management approach with the rural communities. This shift in conservation paradigm to a more integrated approach was informed by the failures that characterized the top-down resource management approaches. It recognized the need to promote involvement and empowerment of rural communities by linking their economic and social development to natural resources management. The search for these vital linkages brought about the concept of community-based natural resource management programmes, which have been implemented across Africa.

Many governments have adopted a participatory approach to conservation as a result of pervasive loss of wildlife species and the challenges of a “fences and fines” approach (Wilfred, 2010). In Namibia, community-based wildlife conservation was pioneered in the mid-1980s in response to poaching, particularly of elephants and black rhinos. A community game guard programme contributed to addressing this problem and this was supplemented by experiments in wildlife tourism to generate income for local people and provide an additional economic incentive for conservation (Nelson et al., 2009).

The three pillars identified by Murphree (2008) answer the question, “Why CBNRM?” The successes of a CBNRM project should be attested in:

i). Sustainable conservation;

ii). Benefits to the community and governing agencies;

iii). Empowerment of the community to manage their own resources; and

iv). Transfer of ownership of natural resources to the community.

The case study in Box 4.1 demonstrates how sustainable conservation of forests has been achieved through devolution of management to the surrounding communities in Tanzania.

Box 4.1: Devolution: A Case from the Forestry Sector of Tanzania

The central lesson of this case study is that successful community-based resource management requires a transfer of power to the community, beyond just the right to use certain products of the forest, or invitation to participate in forest management.

Conceptual Framework of CBNRM

All CBNRM programmes are based on a conceptual framework, a theory that explains why a system is in the state it is, and how changes can be made. Conceptual frameworks constitute the fundamental building blocks of CBNRM programmes, and the effectiveness of a programme can be often directly linked to the validity of the framework. In any CBNRM programme, evaluation of conceptual framework is imperative for conservation and development to evolve and improve as a field. For example, a common feature of most, if not all, community based wildlife management conceptual frameworks is that “local people will have little interest in conserving wildlife if it doesn’t have economic value. So if we give wildlife economic value, local people will be interested in protecting wildlife.”

According to Thakadu (2003), CBNRM is based on the following key notions:

• All citizens share an interest in conservation of natural resources as their livelihoods are closely linked to natural resources;

• The people best placed to conserve and manage the resources are those living with and using the resources;

• The people that are likely to lose the most when it comes to negative changes in natural resource dynamics are those living with or closest to natural resources and therefore, given proper tools and incentives, are those most likely to conserve the natural resources;

• For sustainable and effective natural resource management, the benefits derived from management must outweigh the costs of conservation;

• For communities to effectively contribute to sustainable management of natural resources, they have to be supported and empowered;

• People will only conserve and manage what they perceive will make a positive contribution to their quality of life.

The term CBNRM is used in this chapter as an umbrella term that includes “co-management”, “collaborative management” and “community management”. Borrini-Feyerabend in his book defines co-management as “a situation in which two or more social actors negotiate, define and guarantee amongst themselves a fair sharing of the management functions, entitlements and responsibilities for a given territory, area or set of natural resources” (Borrini-Feyerabend, 2004). She further refers to co-management in other terms such as participatory management, collaborative management, joint-management, mixed, multi-party or round-table management. In community management, local communities sustain and conserve valuable resources through developing and agreeing to shared rules that limit and regulate resource uses through their own self governance arrangements (Roe et al., 2009). Establishment of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) on village lands in Tanzania that has led to benefit sharing between communities and local authority is an example of collaborative management of natural resources.

More recently, adaptive co-management, where institutions and individuals learn and work together and flexibly adjust their management strategies in response to new information, has emerged as a complementary concept to CBNRM. Adaptive co-management blends the adaptive management and collaborative management narratives and represents a potential innovation in natural resource governance under conditions of change, uncertainty, and complexity (Plummer and Armitage, 2007). As observed by Borrini-Feyerabend (2000), adaptive management approach acknowledges lack of unequivocal and definitive knowledge of the ways in which ecosystems work, and the uncertainty that dominates our interaction with them. It emphasizes cooperative governance, learning, adaptability and capacity development as opposed to CBNRM, where the emphasis is often on rights and power relations. While these concepts may represent slightly different ideas and approaches to natural resource management, they all tend to emphasize a strong role for communities in the control and management of productive natural resources.

In the context of this chapter, a community is defined as a group of people bounded by geographical links, such as a village, settlement or district, politics or natural boundaries but also includes those brought together by lifestyle, culture, religion, hobby and interest. A community group often pursues a common goal, concern or interest on an entirely voluntary basis. Communities are mostly thought to be homogenous but in real sense, are heterogeneous as community members often display different interests, problems and needs which vary according to age, gender, class and ethnicity (Gruber, 2008). This chapter depicts the community as being central to natural resource management.

Guiding Principles of CBNRM Approach

From the foregoing discussions and lessons learnt in the case study in Box 4.1, ten guiding principles of CBNRM, as advanced by Jagt and Rozemeijer (2002), emerge:

Decision-Making Authority Must Be at Community Level

Utilization of natural resources by a community is likely to be done in a more sustainable manner if the community has the authority to decide how, who and when to use these resources. More decision-making power will encourage (but not guarantee) more accountability to ensure an environmentally tenable use of the natural resources.

Decision-Making Must Be Representative

The decision-making structure, which is usually laid down in the Constitution of the community organization, must encourage broad dialogue and participation of all community members. Procedures to meet and to make decisions must be transparent. Similarly, time and other resources have to be made available to give every community member an equal opportunity to contribute to the discussion. This is not simply an issue of equity–strategically, it is important, that all community members agree, or at least not disagree, to be able to implement and adhere to decisions reached.

The “Community” Must Be as Small as Practical

It is obvious that distributing benefits and making representative decisions is easier in a small community. It is also obvious that the “right” size of the community will depend on the value of available natural resources (to allow benefits to exceed the costs of management). The trick, as usual, is to strike the balance. The other trick, especially in cases whereby a “community” consists of several villages, is to design layered decision making structures with as much decentralized authority at village or even sub-village level as practical.

Leadership Must Be Accountable

Representative decision-making and equal benefit sharing are prime guiding principles in CBNRM. Organizations and villages cannot function without “representatives” or leaders consolidating the various interests and making decisions on behalf of their constituency. In practice, this always means that some people win and some people lose. This cannot be avoided. What can and should be avoided is leadership not listening to their “voters” and/or not justifying the decisions made. Leaders, the board, committees, etc. must be accountable and responsible for their decisions. Accountability must be laid down in procedures and regulations as the membership is entitled to an explanation of decisions regarding the use of their resources.

Benefits Must Outweigh Costs

A community is more likely to exercise management authority and show responsibility for the use of natural resources when it feels the benefits of doing so. However, it is sometimes difficult to define costs (of meetings, discussion, missed opportunities, etc), and benefits as they are not always easy to measure. Sums of money and employment numbers are for instance quantifiable, but improved skills, enhanced cultural identity, pride and strengthened community organizations are not. The facilitator can clarify costs and benefits, but it is up to the perception of community members to decide whether community management pays or not.

Benefits Must Be Distributed Equitably

The various groups within a community (poor/rich, men/women, different ethnic groups, etc.) and all make use of natural resources; and are all entitled to benefits. This is not simply an issue of equity – strategically, all groups should assume their respective management responsibilities. If one group of resource users is excluded from the benefits, then they have no obligation to abide by community plans and regulations.

Benefit Distribution Must Be Linked to Natural Resources Conservation

The bottom line of any CBNRM intervention is the conservation of the natural resources, meaning, at a minimum, maintenance of the quality of the environment. Re-investing CBNRM benefits in natural resources (e.g. a management plan to reduce land-use conflicts, riparian woodland protection, purchase of valuable species, etc.) can increase the value of the environment and may yield higher returns. In the case of benefits being utilized in some other fashion, the impact of such an investment on the natural resource conservation should be well understood.

Planning and Development Must Focus on Capacity-Building

The ability of a community (organization) to manage its natural resources is not something that can be acquired through a few weeks’ course. To the contrary, developing this management capacity is something that never stops. Committee members and community leaders come and go, as do community members. It should be clear to the community that the capacity to make informed decisions on the use of natural resources is the key to sustainable CBNRM. This means that the community has to make sufficient resources (money and time) available to build this capacity in a planned manner.

Planning and Development Must Be Coordinated

Communities in CBNRM never operate in a vacuum. Any community making natural resource management decisions or plans to re-invest benefits has an impact upon other stakeholders (e.g. District Council, Government Department, neighbouring village). CBNRM activities have conservation, rural development and good governance dimensions that reach beyond natural resource use and beyond the community. For these to sustain, the community must recognize and seek recognition among other stakeholders. Co-ordination in planning and developing CBNRM-related activities is important to gain this status.

The CBNRM Process Must Be Facilitated

Applying the above principles in the community capacity-building process requires skilled third party facilitation. A partner that is detached from the community (to effectively act as an ‘honest broker’), yet is committed to facilitating the CBNRM process at community-level in the long-term is of paramount importance.

Theories for Community Based Natural Resources Management

Various theoretical orientations exist on how to organize natural resources management. Central ideas are ‘rational choice’ theory and the ‘institutional analysis’ approach. Rational choice theory underlies analyses that advocate market solutions, state or private arrangements, and individually rational strategies instead of collective action. It is argued in rational choice theory that cooperation or collective action cannot be achieved due to self-interests. The major question is how institutions that would be efficient in limiting individual self-interests, emerge. The rational choice theory forms the basis for models such as the ‘tragedy of the commons’ (Hardin, 1968).

The tragedy of the commons describes a situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently, and solely and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen. This theory argues that human societies have an inherently destructive relationship to nature and ultimately overexploit natural resources for their own selfish individual interests, temporarily or permanently. This conception of natural resources has influenced the establishment of national parks, protected areas, enclosures and privatisation of natural resources.

This theory has been criticized for failing to distinguish between Common Property Resources (CPR) and open access resources. In some cases, however, there are real problems, and even limited situations where the tragedy of the common applies to real-world resource management. Institutional analysis approach, however, holds the view that rational individuals can still work together as long as they are organized around common interests and governed by rules. This theory, therefore, underscores the importance of CBNRM approach.

Common Property Resource Theory and New Institutional Economics Theory

The dominant theories in institutional analysis are the CPR (Ostrom, 1990) and the New Institutional Economics (NIE) (North, 1990). The central question in CPR theory is “how a group of individuals who are in an interdependent situation organize and govern themselves to obtain continuing joint benefits when all face temptations to free-ride, shirk, or otherwise act opportunistically”. The answer is by having clearly defined property rights. Supporting the CPR theory is the NIE whose main proponent is Douglas North (1990). Central in NIE are the institutions. North (1990), defined institutions as sets of rules and referred to them as “humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction”. The rules can be formal or informal. Ostrom and North take the conception of rules to argue that sustainable utilization of natural resources requires well-defined institutions (rule systems) and institutional frameworks. Box 4.2 provides characteristics or conditions that would be essential for gaining compliance to the rules from appropriators.

Box 4.2: Characteristics of a Successful CBNRM

This analysis by Ostrom has formed the basis for CBNRM programmes, and the rules are commonly found in the by-laws that communities follow when they have been organized to manage common resources. The rules range from those about access, use, exclusion, management, monitoring, and arbitration behaviour of users with respect to specific resources. In Zimbabwe, the strengthening of institutional framework and capacities at different levels in the Communal Areas Management Programme For Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE), shows how CPR and NIE theories have influenced wildlife management (see Box 4.3).

Box 4.3: The Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE)

Some of the lessons learnt from the CAMPFIRE project are as follows:

• For successful locally-based natural resource management, there is need to establish differential benefits for those who bear the cost of conserving natural resources such as wildlife. Focused incentives are key to keeping people’s commitment to the programme;

• The CAMPFIRE was not a blue-print, but its principle was valid—local decision-making in the utilization of natural resources;

• Multi-agency/multi-disciplinary approaches work better for environmental issues. Ecological sciences, social sciences and local knowledge can be applied together for resource management. Public and private sectors can work hand in hand in conservation;

• For a CBNRM project to make an impact, it must satisfy some conditions, which would be at the national, regional, and/or local level. Although, no single CBNRM project will meet all these conditions, they influence effectiveness and success of a CBNRM project.

Although CPR and NIE support CBNRM approach, the theories assume that a community is homogeneous. Similar to most theories on the commons, the CPR focuses much on environmental problems and rarely addresses the issue of power. Both CPR and NIE fail to attend to inter- and intra-group politics, social and power differentiation such as ethnicity, gender, lineages, place of origin, religion, tribe, class, regional history, which may produce varied network outcomes within societies (Meagher, 2004). Usually, there is too much focus on sustainable management and successful institutions at the expense of the impact such institutions have on different categories of people (Agrawal, 2003). By ignoring social and power relations, CBNRM creates “enclosure of the commons”, whereby certain groups profit while others become marginalized and vulnerable because the rules provide opportunity for the powerful actors to exclude others from access and to privatize certain resources or user rights.

Political Ecology Framework

Other views in institutional analysis recognize that society is heterogeneous and they pay attention to social and power relations in access to and control over resources. These social and power relations would only be understood through coherent frameworks that bring together cultural ecology and political economy, hence, political ecology framework (Blaikie, 1994; Peet and Watts, 2004). Political ecology is concerned with understanding the relationship between social and environmental changes and puts power dynamics as central (Derman and Ferguson, 2002). These power dynamics could be at local level within the community, national level or at wider international level. The argument is that equal or unequal power relations among societies or within culture affect the environment and vice versa (Mayer, 1996). Figure 4.1 illustrates existing inter, intra and supra relationships between the community and the environment. In the relationships, the community is affected and so is the environment.

Through the lens of political ecology, a successful CBNRM would require detailed understanding of the economic, political and social factors and the physical environment. These factors make a CBNRM become holistic in nature. A CBNRM project informed by political ecology would therefore make people at different levels socially or culturally cohesive, politically empowered, economically developed and environmentally conscience. While political ecology framework is commended for paying attention to social and power inequalities in the management of natural resources, its main weakness is that it emphasizes either the ecological or political dimensions, and not both. Usually, political is privileged over ecological and environmental changes. In many cases, there is little politics in political ecology (Little, 1999; Zimmerer and Basset, 2003).


Figure 4.1: Inter, Intra and Supra Relationships Between the Community and the Environment.

Adapted from Campbell and Olson (1991)

The case of grazing lands in Botswana as reported by Peters (1987) presents the reality of political ecology. The grazing lands, once communally, became partly common, partly open access and partly illegitimate private. Private control resulted from private ownership of the boreholes established by the government in the grazing lands between the 1930s and 1970s. The boreholes gave the richer and powerful cattle-owners illegitimate control and powers to exclude others from the land around them. Their cattle were “fixed” around the boreholes and therefore, the areas became overgrazed. In return, those who could not afford boreholes were forced to use limited grazing pastures and increasingly moved cattle between water points. This resulted in overgrazing too. Peters (1987) found that overgrazing resulted from unequal access and conflict over the resources and not from overstocking.

Another example of the political ecology notion, is that of access rights in Lake Chilwa wetland in Malawi (Kambewa, 2006). The wetland is important for fishing and agricultural production. Farmers negotiate access to plots especially for dry season cultivation. While some farmers have ‘secure’ access, others have ‘insecure’ access to the wetlands because of their social and power hierarchy in the society. Customary institutions enhance these inequalities. Those with insecure access to the wetland cultivate hill slopes without following proper soil conservation practices. The experience is that, rivers dry quickly and wetlands receive less recharge, resulting into reduced area for dry season cultivation. The social and power inequalities have led to land degradation and conflicts as members compete for land at the expense of conservation of the wetland (Kambewa, 2006). This defy the commonly held views that attribute environmental and social problems to increases in human population.

Approaches to CBNRM

Community based natural resource management takes many different forms in different locations and different socio-political and bio-physical contexts. The term itself is used and interpreted in many different ways. The nature of CBNRM approach is designated by the method and level of community involvement. In Southern Africa, for example, the most common approaches are those in which authority over natural resources has been devolved from the state to defined groups of resource users on communal land (Jones, 2004). In East Africa, the acronym, CBNRM is not commonly used, even though CBNRM is widely practiced across the region. In the wildlife sector in East Africa, ‘community-based conservation’ is the more common term used to refer to joint management involving the communities and central agencies. In forestry, ‘participatory forest management’ is used to refer to community-based forest management.

In practice, CBNRM may refer to a wide range of different modes of local involvement in natural resource management, including passive receipt of benefits from protected areas or other instances where communities are not actually empowered to manage resources themselves (Roe et al., 2009). The level of community involvement in natural resource management varies hugely between and within regions, from protected area outreach, where communities are passive beneficiaries of natural resource management conducted by others, to cases where communities participate through co-management agreements, to scenarios where natural resource management is actually carried out by communities for local benefit, among other forms of involvement (Barrow and Murphree, 2001).

Protected Area (PA) Outreach and Benefit-Sharing Approach

Under PA, the resource ownership is bestowed with the state. The level of participation of the community is largely limited to passive actions. Their role is to receive benefits from PA managers and cooperate with them in protecting the resources. The PA approach is exemplified in the case of tourism revenue sharing between the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the communities surrounding parks. This programme was initiated in the 1990s to improve local attitudes toward wildlife conservation. It has supported a range of community projects such as schools, clinics and other infrastructural developments (Archabald and Naughton-Treves, 2001).

Co-Management or Joint-Management Approach

In Co-Management (CM) of natural resources, the state owns the resources but may deconcentrate ownership. The level of community participation is medium and depends on the rights and responsibilities granted to local communities in a given situation. Their role is to cooperate with state authorities in management of the natural resources. An example of a co-management approach is the introduction of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) on village lands in Tanzania following pervasive decline of its wildlife between 1970s and 1980s. Some of the WMA established by the government of Tanzania included Enduimet and Loliondo in Arusha region; Twatwatwa, Ukutu and Wamimbiki in Morogoro region. This approach has evolved into a benefit sharing pact between communities and local authority (Wilfred, 2010; Nelson, 2007).

Community-Based Natural Resource Management Approach

In CBNRM approach, local communities participate in the management of natural resources through collective representative body. They are the resource managers through either delegated usufruct rights (user rights) or outright proprietorship. The level of participation of the community is, therefore, high because they are the decision makers and beneficiaries. Formation of conservancies on communal land in Namibia with rights over wildlife and diverse sources of income including hunting, tourism, and non-timber products, is an example (Nelson et al., 2009). In Laikipia District of Kenya, communities are able to realize the benefits of wildlife on their lands through Community-Owned Ecotourism Enterprises. Examples of these enterprises, which include conservancies and eco-lodges are Il N’gwesi, Tassia, Koija Star Beds, Ol Lentille sanctuary and Ol Gaboli Community Bandas (Laikipia Wildlife Forum, 2010).

The Namibian model (Box 4.4) that allows communities to establish wildlife conservancies in communal lands and benefit from wildlife-based activities, shows the salient features of a CBNRM approach.

Designing and Implementing CBNRM Projects

CBNRM agreements involve both local user groups and the government. As such, they have the potential to reinforce user participation while remaining within the official administrative and legal framework. A co-managed system is developed through negotiation among the various stakeholders and can be partly based on customary practices. The desired end product is a contract between the state, user groups and other stakeholders that also recognize conflicts of interests and can be adjusted to changing circumstances (Hilhorst and Aarnink, 1999). In view of the foregoing scenario, there is no single or universal design of a CBNRM. The example of participatory conservation of wetlands in Ghana presented in Box 4.5 is, therefore, used to help the reader to visualize the steps involved in designing a successful CBNRM.

Box 4.4: The Namibian CBNRM Model

Box 4.5: Community-Based Marine Turtle Conservation In Ghana

In designing the NRM programme, the Ghana Wildlife Society:

• Identified key problems that the extinction of turtles may cause to national economy and how this may affect communities in particular;

• Conducted all inclusive workshop that puts the communities at the centre of the action;

• Identified key stakeholders including local authorities like chiefs, NGO leaders, regulating agents and others;

• Trained all those who will be involved so that they are technically competent to jointly manage the project;

• Organized the costal communities to play key role in the conservation with leadership provided through the multi agency task force;

• Trained the communities and all relevant stake holders; and

• Ensured tangible benefits so as to enlist consistent ongoing community commitment and support.

The key lessons learnt in this case study is that local people will support the conservation of natural resources if:

a) They are recognized and respected as equal partners by conservation officers and are empowered to contribute effectively to the conservation process; and

b) They have ownership of the resource and are convinced of the benefits that the conservation of a particular resource will bring to them.

The use of community task force has been very effective in creating awareness of the turtle problem within the communities in Ghana. This is because the suspicion which they had in the past with government officers or outsiders is eliminated. The fact that the task force members are part of the communities made them readily acceptable to the communities and helped them to sell the turtle conservation ideas to the community more easily. In addition, the involvement of the local communities created an opportunity for the Ghana Wildlife Society to gain better insight and to understand the turtle problem from the perspectives of the local people. The partnership between the communities and the Society was therefore mutually beneficial due to the two-way transfer of knowledge from one to the other.

(For details of CBNRM project design, see NRM project planning and Management, in Chapter 7.)

Benefits of Community Based Natural Resource Management Projects

The potential of CBNRM to generate economic benefits for local people has been the key driver of efforts for its application, because such benefits create incentives for resource conservation and contribute to local economic development and poverty reduction (WRI, 2005). The possible impacts of CBNRM projects on livelihood components include the expansion of community and household assets, through reduction in illegal harvesting, sustainable harvesting, restocking and better local management and enhanced human capital through training and skill development (Center for Applied Research, 2003). Others include the accumulation of financial assets, building of social assets, for example, by the formation of effective community organizations and reduced conflicts; and establishment of physical infrastructure. Table 4.1 presents the main benefits associated with CBNRM approach.

Table 4.1: Benefits of CBNRM


Intangible Benefits

Capacity building and empowerment

■ Improved institutions and organizations

■ More accountable leadership

■ Defined membership

■ More open processes for making decisions and sharing information

■ Greater equality for weaker community members especially women

■ More cohesive social units

■ New skills

■ Confidence in dealing with outsiders

■ Greater self belief and increased sense of control

More secure livelihoods

■ Diversification and risk reduction

■ More secure access to resources

■ Ability to cope with change and surprise

Enhancement of cultural and aesthetic values

■ Revival of traditions and traditional knowledge

■ Awareness by outsiders of community world views and belief systems

Improvement to the natural resource base

■ Better management when communities and the state cooperate

Source: Fabricius et al., (2004)

Indicators of CBNRM Impacts

The aforementioned benefits are crucial for success of CBNRM projects. In Uganda, for example, the communities around Budongo forest are involved in cultivation of Ocimum kilimandscharicum, a medicinal plant, to relieve pressure on the forest (see Box 4.6)

Box 4.6: Budongo Forests Community Development Organization (BUCODO)

Factors Influencing Success of CBNRM

The main factors that determine the success of CBNRM projects are social, economic, political and bio-physical in nature as discussed in the sections below.

Social Factors

Social factors are important for achieving cohesiveness of communities, organizing and mobilizing efforts of the members to manage resources and agree on the sharing and distribution of the benefits. Among the social factors, leadership plays an important role in the distribution of benefits from a CBNRM project. If leadership is responsive to the needs of its members and fair, it is more likely that benefits will accrue to most community members rather than a select few. Critical is therefore, whether the leadership is responsive at all, and equally responsive to the needs of various community groups as defined by social status, gender or age.

Economic Factors

One of the strongest recurring issues in CBNRM is that the perceived value of the resource to be managed must be large enough for the community to enter into the rigorous process of mobilization, planning and implemention of CBNRM activities. The perception of relative benefits and costs depends on how the community assesses or values the efforts by, and benefits to, certain social groups.

The perceived value of the resource to the community depends on the extent to which the community has access to a market, market information and value addition (if the resource is tradable). However, the perception of the benefit/cost from CBNRM is not always straightforward to the communities. In addition, some communities tend to have high discount rates and they would much rather have small benefits now than larger ones in a distant future. Others do not, and tend to accept short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. Finally, the composite assessment of a community’s benefits/costs of CBNRM is often at odds with that of other stakeholders or potential partners, making negotiations difficult.

Policy Factors

Colonial legal frameworks on the use of natural resources did not explicitly grant rights or authority to local communities. However, governments in Africa have reformed their policies to allow for community participation. This has opened doors for CBNRM activities to be implemented. In some countries however the policies are not in use because they have not been taken to the communities. Some cases exhibit contradictions between policies on natural resource management and cross-cutting issues leading to inadequate policy guidance for CBNRM activities. The end results are conflicts that undermine the success of CBNRM.

Bio-Physical Factors

The focus is on resource manageability—the reciprocal of a community’s capacity to carry out CBNRM. Because of the type of access or tenure (e.g. common property rights as opposed to open access to resource), certain resources are easier to manage than others. Scale can be a factor (e.g. a large pond rather than a sizeable lake, or watershed), the extent to which the resource is mobile (marine fishery, wildlife) can also be important, relative to the size of the community or groups of communities. Sometimes, changes in NRM practices require significantly different modes of resource management and use (this relates to the social concepts of quality of labour pool, and capacity for innovation).

In some cases, the shift from the previous pattern of resource use to a more sustainable CBNRM approach is relatively simple. In other instances, the state of resources or other constraints force the community to undertake a major shift in knowledge, practices, mentality and patterns of resource use. Both biotic and abiotic factors have direct influence on natural resources and their management regimes. Climatic factors, rainfall for example has a direct influence on quality and quantity of vegetation resources. This has a bearing on accessibility of forage for pastoral communities. During droughts when the resources are scarce pastoralist communities are forced to defy territorial boundaries, resource use pattern and to some extent, governing institutions, which results in conflicts and disruption of any community-based natural resource management plans.

Conflicts Management in Community Based Natural Resource Management

Management of natural resources is embedded in social and power dynamics of the community where people have to negotiate their access to the means of livelihoods. This exposition implies that CBNRM operates on a contested terrain, where people are busy finding ways to justify their claims to natural resources in order to access, control and use resources for livelihoods. Failure to win the claim is a loss of both the resources and the benefits. It is this loss that results into conflicts. Conflicts, therefore, emerge from inequalities in access to and control over resources. Seen this way, conflicts are contending forces used by those in power as tools to maintain or restructure economic, social and political relations in the society (Peters, 2002). A section in Chapter 3 is dedicated to discussions on conflict management in INRM; sources of conflict, methods and tools for analysis, and strategies for conflict management

Causes and Types of Conflicts in CBNRM

The conflicts over natural resources could be ‘intra’, ‘inter’ and ‘supra’ in nature (Table 4.2). Intra-conflicts take place between members of the same community. These conflicts can manifest themselves as quarrels over shared resources. Intra-conflicts are frequent but less intensive such that members easily reconcile without outside intervention. When the conflicts are grave, members of a community can turn into ‘strangers’ and in some cases, fights or even death occur.

Table 4.2: Types of Conflicts Arising in CBNRM

Type of conflict



■ Disputes over land and resource ownership, eg between private and communal land owners;

■ Disputes over land boundaries between individuals or groups;

■ Disputes due to CBNRM projects/schemes being captured by elites and/or those who happen to own resources of a higher quality;

■ Breaking of common property resource (CPR) constitutional or operational rules, such as protection agreements for grazing areas, fish net sizes, forests, or misappropriation of funds etc.

■ Disputes over the unfair distribution of work and profits.


■ Conflict between ‘land owners’ and ‘resource users’;

■ Conflict between indigenous CPR groups, and more recent settlers;

■ Resentment built up due to lack of representation in village committees.


■ Cultural conflicts between community groups and ‘outsiders’;

■ Project management disputes between community groups and outside project-sponsors;

■ Disputes caused by political influence (national, provincial or local).

Source: Warner, 2000.

In most African communities, conflicts over natural resources are first referred to the court of elders for resolution. Although intra- conflicts are usually resolved by the lower courts, sometimes they reach the court of the chief. The land ‘grabbing’ case in Lake Chilwa Wetlands of Malawi (Box 4.7) is an example of intra-conflict over natural resources.

The lessons from this case are first, in natural resource management, the powerful actors may use power in their favour. Second, that at the local level, there are multiple institutions for resolving conflicts thereby allowing people to seek justice from a variety of platforms. However, some institutions are less impartial as they favour those in power. The key message in this case study is that for any CBNRM project to succeed, it must address the social and political inequalities inherent in customary institutions.

Box 4.7: Land Grabbing in The Lake Chilwa Wetlands, Malawi

Inter-conflicts occur among members of different communities in the same geographical area. These conflicts originate from the fact that most natural resources are customary in nature and belong to specific communities by default. Members of the communities that have customary rights of ownership are considered ‘insiders’ while those without are considered as ‘outsiders’. Conflicts occur whenever ‘outsiders’ claim ownership of the resource upon which they do not have customary rights (Box 4.8).

Community members use local histories to make claims about natural resources they want to control. Such histories range from those about chieftaincy to the question about who came first to settle in the area. When an inter-conflict is strong, communities seek justice from a variety of institutions. Initially, the case would be heard in the court of the senior community leaders before being referred to the formal courts.

Box 4.8: Conflict Over Water and Land in the Lake Chilwa Wetlands, Malawi

Supra conflicts take place between communities in a different geographical location or an organization, in this context, an implementing agency of a CBNRM project. Examples include conflicts between the government and farmers, where the latter refuses an irrigation scheme because of uncertainties about their livelihoods if the project is implemented. Some conflicts are between government and communities in protected areas such as national parks because people feel they have lost access to their means of livelihoods. In fisheries sector, conflicts exist among fishing groups or between government and fishermen.

Strategies for Conflict Management in NRM

Critical to the CBNRM is the emergence of institutions capable of efficiently resolving and managing conflict. The quest is for an alternative conflict management system neutral, efficient and fair in resolving conflicts at lower levels where natural resource management takes place. According to Warner (2000), key strategies for conflict management in CBNRM would include the following:

Use of force: Conflict can be managed through ‘force’ when one party has the means and inclination to win regardless of the consequences for the other party, and whether the process of winning causes damage to one’s personal or professional relationships. Not all will be able to use the same force. It will largely depend on the power that one party holds relative to the other. In some cases, recourse to the legal system is a form of ‘force’ in that one party can use their superior resources to ‘buy’ better advice or raise the stakes, for example, by taking a lost case to an appeal court;

The power of withdrawal: This approach is suited to those parties whose desire to avoid confrontation outweighs the goals they are trying to achieve. The power of ‘withdrawal’ can be used as a threat to force reluctant and sometimes more powerful parties to negotiate in a more consensual fashion. However, disadvantaged groups may also withdraw out of a feeling of helplessness;

Accommodation: There are occasions when one party values a strong and continuing relationship with one or more of other parties above the attainment of its own goals. In these cases, the party may opt to ‘accommodate’ the other parties, conceding to all or most of their demands. Although such outcomes may look as though they have been the result of ‘force’, the difference is that rather than losing outright, the accommodating party gains by way of securing good relations, accompanied perhaps by element of ‘good will’ and the option to achieve some greater goal at a future date;

Compromise: Compromise is often confused with consensus. To compromise in a negotiation may sound positive, but it means that at least one of the parties perceives that it has had to forgo something. Compromise as ‘trade-offs’—is now prevalent, spurred on by the perceived ‘tragedy of the commons’ and the need to make rational resource allocation decisions. Stakeholder analysis is an example of the compromise approach. The tool is used to analyze the potential distributional impact of a project between the various stakeholder groups, which is then integrated into project design so as to minimize sacrifice and trade-offs;

Consensus: In a consensus approach, the synergy of collaborative negotiations is used to widen the basis for decision-making. Negotiations are about engaging in trade-offs on a win-win approach.

In their study of conflict management in Uganda, Sanginga, et al., (2007) distinguished the following conflict management mechanisms used by communities to resolve their NRM related conflicts:

Avoidance: People don’t report problems, they try to solve them. Avoidance was often used when the conflict was trivial. The desire to avoid confrontation outweighs the need to bring conflicts into public domain;

Mediation and Negotiation: People usually rely on clan elders, relatives, neighbours and groups to solve conflicts;

Arbitration: People report problems to local government leaders also called village council;

Adjudication: People take problems to courts or are coerced to comply.

Most CBNRM conflicts are managed through community informal and customary mechanisms or through legal and formal mechanisms. Although some communities have long been known to effectively manage their conflicts from natural resources use. recent years have seen emergence of strict regulations or policies for sustainable management of natural resources. Table 4.3 presents different conflict management systems, their strengths and weaknesses. These are by-laws or negotiated rules, social norms and agreed behaviours that exist within communities to prevent and manage conflicts (Sanginga et al., 2007). Chapter 8 discusses in details some policy and governance issues in NRM.

Role of Indigenous Knowledge in CBNRM

Information and knowledge management systems are vital for planning, operation, monitoring, and evaluation of CBNRM processes. Rising awareness of the cross-border environmental dimensions of CBNRM has fostered networking between organizations as an approach to share information and knowledge and to engage in national as well as regional policy dialogue. Knowledge systems that facilitate the information and knowledge sharing through networking between organizations or nations play an important role in this context. In general, information sources range from existing information storage systems, to traditional regimes of knowledge dissemination. This chapter will focus mainly on indigenous knowledge system against the background on CBNRM.

Local and indigenous knowledge can serve as valuable basis for interpreting information and data, and for solving problems identified by scientists, policy makers and resource managers. This knowledge is, however, not well documented or easily accessible to others including those in the same area with similar problems and challenges. Frequently, large investments are made in a top-down approach to conserve natural resource systems, often in disregard of the local knowledge and experiences. One of the important challenges is to find ways and means that provide the linkages between traditional knowledge of land-use management systems and modern scientific methods and technologies. The development of information systems where indigenous and scientific knowledge is integrated into a single expert knowledge system will go a long way in contributing towards greater awareness, education, training and capacity building of stakeholders in agriculture and natural resource management and conservation.

Studies have shown that indigenous knowledge is the missing link between development agencies and the rural communities, and that CBNRM projects that recognize the local knowledge systems yield better results compared to those that undermine the knowledge and practices of the local communities. Recognition of traditional techniques and practices would not only restore the confidence of the local communities in their own traditional knowledge and skills but also lead to the preservation of unique indigenous knowledge. This should be done as a way of increasing the effectiveness, acceptability and success of CBNRM projects that are aimed at improving food security and livelihoods of the rural communities (Wasonga et al., 2003).

Table 4.3: Strengths and Limitations of Different Conflict Management Mechanisms

Conflict management systems


Limitations/ Weaknesses

Community based (customary) mechanisms

■ Encourages participation by community members and respect of local values and customs.

■ Provides familiarity of past experience.

■ Can be more accessible because of low cost, use of local language, flexibility in scheduling.

■ Decision-making is often based on collaboration, with consensus emerging from wide-ranging discussions, often fostering local reconciliation.

■ Contributes to a process of community self reliance and empowerment.

■ Not all people have equal access to customary conflict management practices owing to gender, class, caste, ethnic or other discrimination.

■ Courts and administrative law have supplanted authorities that lack legal recognition.

■ Communities are becoming more mixed, resulting in weakened authority and social relationships.

■ Often cannot accommodate conflicts among different communities, or between communities and government structures, or external organizations.

Legal and administrative systems (Policy)

■ Officially established with supposedly well-defined procedures.

■ Takes national interests, concerns and issues into consideration.

■ Decisions are legally binding.

■ Often inaccessible to the poor, women, marginalized groups and remote communities because of the cost, distance, languagebarriers, illiteracy and political discrimination.

■ Judicial and technical specialists often lack expertise, skills or interest in participatory naturalresource management.

Alternative conflict management systems (Synergy approach)

■ Promotes conflict management and resolution by building on shared interestsand finding points of agreement.

■ Processes resemble those already existing in many conflict management systems.

■ Low cost and flexible.

■ Fosters a sense of ownership in the solution and its process of implementation.

■ Emphasizes building capacity with in communities so that local people becomemore effective facilitators and handlers of conflict.

■ May encounter difficulties ingetting all stakeholders to the bargaining table.

■ May not be able to overcome power differences amongstakeholders if some groupsremain marginalized.

■ Decisions may not always be legally binding.

■ Some practitioners may try to use methods developed in other countries without adapting them to the local contexts.

Source: Sanginga et al., (2005)

What is Indigenous Knowledge?

Several terms are used synonymously with Indigenous Knowledge (IK), such as local knowledge, indigenous skills, traditional knowledge or cultural knowledge. Generally, these refer to the matured long-standing traditions and practices of certain regional, indigenous or local communities. Traditional or indigenous knowledge also encompasses the wisdom, knowledge, and teachings of these communities. Typically, such knowledge has been passed on orally from one person to another over generations. Most forms of indigenous knowledge are expressed through stories, legends, folklore, rituals, songs and even laws, or are obtained through experience and experimentation. This long-term experimentation and experience means that indigenous knowledge cannot be quickly replaced by other knowledge systems. It also encompasses the skills, experiences and insights of people, applied to maintain or improve their livelihoods (UNCCD, 1999).

There has been an attempt by social scientists to distinguish traditional knowledge from local knowledge. These scientists often place knowledge within a naturalistic framework, and emphasize the gradation of recent knowledge into knowledge acquired over many generations. These accounts use terms like ‘adaptively acquired knowledge’ and ‘socially constructed knowledge’, terms that emphasize evolutionary and social aspects of knowledge. Local knowledge and traditional knowledge may be thought of as distinguished by the length of time they have existed—decades to centuries versus millennia. Musimba and Nyariki (2003) argue that local technical knowledge may not necessarily be indigenous. It is knowledge developed or generated locally as opposed to Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK), which is principally ‘traditional’, again pointing to the time horizon involved in developing this knowledge.

In practical terms, traditional or indigenous knowledge can be defined as the ‘ideas, experiences, practices, and information that either have been generated locally or elsewhere, but have been transformed by the local people and incorporated in their way of life unique to their culture or society’ (Kellner and Bosch, 2003). Rai and Thapa (1993) simply refer to indigenous knowledge as ‘an organization or social activity that has been set up primarily as a result of local initiative’. Indigenous knowledge, then, refers to techniques that are ‘endogenously generated, enforced and maintained’ or those that result from the ‘local adaptation of methods from outside’. Indigenous knowledge can also be defined as local knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society (Nyariki et al., 2005). It forms the basis for local-level decision making in natural resource management and a host of other activities in rural communities.

As opposed to what the term may literally mean, indigenous/traditional or local knowledge is not necessarily simple. It is dynamic, changing through indigenous mechanisms of creativity and innovation, and, because it does not occur in a vacuum, it borrows a lot from the outside, and therefore, is ever evolving. The term indigenous system is used as opposed to a sponsored system. A sponsored system is initiated through an external intervention such as by government agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) are a complex set of knowledge, skills and technologies existing and developed around specific conditions of populations and communities indigenous to a particular geographic area, and are often in contrast with international knowledge systems generated by research centres and private firms (Häusler, 1995). They form the basis for local level decision-making in agriculture, food preparation, healthcare, education and training, natural resource management and a host of other activities in rural communities (Warren and Rajasekaran, 1993). According to Warren and Rajasekaran (1995), IKS are diverse and include:

• Adaptive skills of local people usually derived from many years of experience communicated through ‘oral traditions’ and learned through family members over generations;

• Time-tested agricultural and natural resource management practices, which pave the way for sustainable development;

• Strategies and techniques developed by local people to cope with the changes in the socio-cultural and environmental conditions;

• Practices that are accumulated by farmers due to constant experimentation and innovation;

• Trial and error problem-solving approaches by groups of people with an objective to meet the challenges they face in their local environments.

• Decision-making skills of local people that draw upon the resources they have at hand.

Indigenous systems for natural resource management invariably include ecological and biological management and the social arrangements by which access to the natural resources is regulated. Much of the indigenous knowledge is based on accurate, detailed and thoughtful observations, which are collected and passed on across many generations. It allows informed decisions to be made by combining information and techniques to maximize production and minimize risks. Therefore, potential disappearance of many indigenous practices could have a negative effect primarily on those who have developed them and who make a living through them (Nyariki et al., 2005).

Why Indigenous Knowledge?

Recently, there has been heightened interest in indigenous knowledge, especially in agriculture and natural resource management, for purposes of creating more appropriate and environment-friendly technologies, empowering people to have greater control over their destinies, and creating technologies that are more justifiable in their specific socio-economic situations. Indigenous knowledge is beneficial to sustainable agriculture and natural resource conservation because it is founded on a strong understanding of the local ecology, social structure, economy and culture of a community. This knowledge is normally a significant part of the lives of the rural poor, as their livelihood depends, for the most part, on specific skills and knowledge essential for problem-solving strategies, and therefore, for their survival. Furthermore, indigenous knowledge is relatively cheap, locally available, and less destructive to the local environment. However, according to Kellner and Bosch (2003), it is marginalized and even under attack for being backward, static and a hindrance to modernization. In fact, there are those who hold the view that indigenous or traditional knowledge is not ‘knowledge’ because it includes beliefs, values and practices. In the context of their argument, these elements are not considered ‘knowledge’ because they do not constitute ‘justified true belief’—the definition of ‘knowledge’.

The decline of indigenous peoples and their knowledge has often been associated with the neglect and marginalization of their practices and beliefs, frequently seen as inferior forms of knowledge to be replaced by ‘universal’ knowledge derived from western scientific culture. Attempts to apply western tradition universally without regard for indigenous knowledge systems have in many cases led to failure in sustainable natural resource use and the erosion of biological diversity. The level of contribution indigenous knowledge can make to the knowledge for conserving natural resources cannot be gainsaid, therefore. Unfortunately, the value of such knowledge has been recognized only recently, mainly due to international and donor project funding requirements (Kellner and Bosch, 2003).

Today, there is consensus on the need to see natural resource management in terms of long-term sustainability. This has led many people to argue that in order to ensure a more socially and ecologically sound approach to natural resource management, it is necessary to understand, respect and utilize the local knowledge systems. There is now an increasing awareness among development practitioners, extension workers and development agencies of the interrelationship that exists between conserving natural resources, food security and poverty alleviation in developing countries. Local people have a wide knowledge of the ecosystem they live in and ways to ensure that natural resources are used sustainably. Therefore, IK that has been accumulated over centuries has potential value for sustainable development. As observed by Ulluwishewa (1993), historical evidence shows that some communities have utilized natural resources over centuries without impairing their capability to support them and their successive generations. It follows then that the IK of resource management is capable of providing a valuable information base which could be used (with adaptations) in the management of natural resources for sustainable development.

IK represents the richness of the indigenous or traditional communities. It is a key element of the social capital of these communities; their main asset to invest in the struggle for survival, to produce food, to provide for shelter or to achieve control of their own lives. Any strategy to alleviate poverty should therefore recognize what the poor have, instead of what they do not have, and should transform their creativity into asset-creation. In Tanzania, the recovery of Shinyanga’s agropastoral economy on a scale of hundreds of thousands of hectares through an indigenous natural resource management system known as Ngitili (Box 4.9), attests to the role of traditional land management practices in nature conservation and socioeconomic development (Mlenge, 2004).

In Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, the local communities have successfully used traditional knowledge and institutions to conserve natural resource (Box 4.10).

Box 4.9: Ngitili System in Shinyanga, Tanzania

Box 4.10: Use of Indigenous Natural Resource Management in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia

The main lessons learned in this case study are as follows:

• Traditional forms of natural resource management are usually present and respond flexibly to changing situations such as increased pressure on resources;

• Indigenous Knowledge Systems are key in mobilizing rural people in environmental management. We must start from what the people know and what they appreciate;

• Forms of local democracy provide a forum to mobilize social capital around Natural Resource Management issues; such institutions are more likely to be effective if they are related with traditional community-based structures; and

• New institutions need mechanisms (such as tabia councils and social courts) to address externalities at catchment level, i.e. above the level of individual communities.

This combination of a form of local participatory democracy with more traditional, long-standing but flexible Natural Resource Management Systems is widely replicable, except perhaps in a highly stratified society.

Methods of Recording IK

Various methods have been used by researchers from various fields to collect data on indigenous knowledge. Some of the key ones, their purposes and values are outlined below as in IIRR (1996):

Identifying indigenous specialists: This employs informal questioning and diagramming to identify individuals with specific know-how. This method quickly generates a list of individuals with specific skills or characteristics;

Case studies: This helps to understand a situation, a sequence or procedure of activities to learn what, how and why it happened. It is useful for investigating processes such as documentation of activities from last to first step and investigates changes over time;

Field observation: It supports the collection of supplementary data, validate information gathered through other means to learn and record IK. It helps discover new IK and see familiar IK in practice;

In-depth interviews: These help uncover details about the who, what, where, when, how and why of practice, technologies and believes and tools. Interviews help draw out the perceptions and experiences of individuals, experienced in their own words;

Participant observation: It helps in the collection, understanding and validation of field data. It helps in learning and understanding IK and its advantages and problems from the community perspective;

Participative technology analysis: It gives an understanding of different elements of a technology or technique, their uses and the local peoples reasons for using them. It helps in recording and validating indigenous technique, and helps outsiders and insiders discover local technologies upon which to build;

Surveys: They help generate baseline and evaluation data and answer questions identified using other methods. They are useful when identifying and documenting IK practices and their cultural context;

Brainstorming: It helps to pool the knowledge of several people to collect as much information on a topic as possible, and can produce a quick overview or rough assessment of IK on a specific subject;

Games: It is used to build rapport, generate insights and encourage participation in discussions, and can be used to bring important concepts to the fore;

Group discussions: Help generate information and build consensus, and clarify information on documents. They can help facilitator learn local terms and concepts;

Role play: It captures movements, actions, sequence, roles and relationships of people, things and practices, and reveals to outsiders the what and how of IK;

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis: It helps the gathering, analyzing, evaluation of information and identifying strategic options facing a community, organization or individual at a given time. SWOT is used to learn how community members value their IK and how they can optimally use it.

When studying IK for both documentation and adoption purposes, there are important steps that are recommended. Figure 4.2 presents steps to follow in identifying IK relevant for a given CBNRM project.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Indigenous Knowledge in CBNRM

Strengths and weaknesses of IK have to be understood in order to know the conditions under which the knowledge can be used. The following are some of the strength, weaknesses and the challenges in using IK.


• As they use resources and daily interact with nature, local people have a lot of accumulated knowledge about natural resources which can be used to improve its management.

• Local systems of management of natural resources are cheap to implement because they make use of locally available resources and skills.

• Traditionally defined rights and locally promulgated rules foster community unity.

• Traditional natural resource management systems promote relatively equitable access to resources by weaker and poorer members of the society.

• Local knowledge systems and practices help in maintaining the cultural values of a community.


Figure 4.2: Steps in Identification of Appropriate Indigenous Knowledge

Source: IIRR, 1996


• IK is oral and is verbally transferred through generations, and therefore vulnerable to loss and distortion.

• Common property rights as used in most traditional land-use systems are often susceptible to abuse (tragedy of the commons) especially where the traditional institutions have collapsed.

• Indigenous practices often adapt slowly to new challenges and therefore may not deliver the much-needed sustainable development if not integrated with modern techniques.

• Despite its relevance and potential for wide application in CBNRM, IK faces a number of threats, among them, the following:

• Overemphasis of formal education at the expense of traditional education systems is one of the main obstacles to promotion of IK.

• In many cases, the IK local people refer to is often old with little or no relevance to current situations. Often, the older generation is being replaced by younger ones who have limited interest. As a result, some IK being passed on is not authentic.

• Globalization incorporates the indigenous and minority communities into the larger society, and this leads to loss of autonomy and with it much of the indigenous knowledge and practices.

• IK systems are currently at the risk of extinction because of rapidly changing natural environments (including desertification, climate change and loss of biodiversity), and economic, political and cultural changes on a global scale. The practices can vanish, as they become inappropriate for new challenges.

• Piracy of IK due to lack of awareness on intellectual property rights among the owners of indigenous skills and resources.

• Unwillingness to pass on IK by the experts. This is also because these skills are confined to a few people in certain families in a community. Lack of interest to record and conserve IK because some equate use of indigenous local knowledge to backwardness and not being scientific.


The term CBNRM is used in this chapter as an umbrella term that includes “co-management”, “collaborative management” and “community management”. While these concepts may represent slightly different ideas and approaches to natural resource management, they all tend to emphasize a strong role for communities in the control and management of productive natural resources. CBNRM represents a paradigm shift from the old orthodoxy and mainstream view on communal property right regimes across Africa. Many governments in Africa have adopted a participatory approach to conservation as a result of pervasive loss of wildlife species and the challenges of a “fences and fines” approach. A co-managed system is developed through negotiation among the various stakeholders and can be partly based on customary practices. A CBNRM design, therefore, take cognizant of the desired end product, which is a contract between the state, user groups and other stakeholders, a contract that also recognizes conflicts of interests and can be adjusted to changing circumstances. However, there is no single or universal design of a CBNRM that suits all situations. Conflicts emerge from inequalities in access to and control over resources. Seen this way, conflicts are contending forces used by those in power as tools to maintain or restructure economic, social and political relations in the society. Conflicts are better addressed through involvement and transfer of natural resource ownership to the communities. The four pillars CBNRM are sustainable conservation, mutual benefits to the community and governing agencies, empowerment of the community to manage their own resources, and transfer of ownership of natural resources to the community. Successful Community-Based Natural Resource Management requires a transfer of power to the community, not just the right to use certain products, or invitation to participate in natural resource management.CBNRM interventions are based on the experience that under certain conditions, local people have not destroyed but rather enriched biodiversity and landscapes and that their knowledge can help to maintain stable environmental conditions, and, at the same time, maintain or reinstitute their traditional rights to resources. Recording and use of IK is a key to conserving Knowledge and experience for the coming generation.

Learning Activities

Revision Questions

1. Explain the main concepts, theories, principles and frameworks of CBNRM.

2. Compare and contrast the various CBNRM approaches and draw conclusions.

3. Know tools to design CBNRM projects and be familiar on how to develop CBNRM projects.

4. Discuss the causes and consequences of various conflicts that arise from use or misuse of shared natural resources in given communities and design intervention measures.

5. Analyze the various CBNRM cases and draw lessons from them.

Further Reading

Agrawal, A. (2003). Sustainable Governance of Common-Pool Resources: Context, Methods, and Politics. Annual Reviews. 2003. 32:243-62.

Barrow, E. and Murphree, M. W. (2001). Community Conservation: From Concept to Practice. In African Wildlife and Livelihoods: The Promise and Performance of Community Conservation, Hulme, D. M.W. Murphree (eds.) Oxford:James Currey: UK; pp 24 - 37

Borrini-Feyerabend, G.; Farvar, M. T.; Nguinguiri, J.C.; Ndangang, V.A. (2000). Co-management of Natural Resources: Organizing, Negotiating and Learning by Doing. Yaoundé: International Union of the Conservation of Nature. Nyariki, D. M.; Kitalyi, A.; Wasonga, V.O.; Isae, I.; Kyagaba, E. and Lugenja, M. (2005). Indigenous Techniques for Assessing and Monitoring Range Resources in East Africa. World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi.

Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the Commons: the Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.,

Roe, D.; Nelson, F.; Sandbrook, C. (eds.) (2009). Community Management of Natural Resources in Africa: Impacts, Experiences and Future Directions, Natural Resource Issues No. 18. London: International Institute for Environment and Development.


Agrawal, A. (2003). Sustainable Governance of Common-Pool Resources: Context, Methods, and Politics. Annual Reviews. 32:243-62.

Archabald and Naughton-Treves (2001). Tourism Revenue-Sharing Around National Parks in Western Uganda: Early Efforts to Identify and Reward Local Communities. Environmental Conservation, 28:2:135-149.

Armitage, D. (2005). Adaptive Capacity and Community-Based Natural Resource Management. Environmental Management 35:703–715

Barrow, E. and Murphree, M. W. (2001). Community Conservation: From Concept to Practice. In African Wildlife and Livelihoods: The Promise and Performance of Community Conservation, Hulme, D. M.W. Murphree (eds.) James Currey: Oxford, UK; 24 - 37

Barrow, E. and Mlenge, W. (2004). Ngitili for Everything—Woodland Restoration in Shinyanga, Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: The United Republic of Tanzania Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and IUCN The World Conservation Union, Eastern Africa Regional Office.

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Borrini-Feyerabend, G.; Pimbert, M.; Farvar, M.T.; Kothari, A.; Renard, Y. (2004). Sharing Power. Learning-by-doing in Co-Management of Natural Resources Throughout the World. IIED AND IUCN.- CEESP/CMWG, Cenesta, Tehran

Borrini-Feyerabend, G.; Farvar, M. T.; Nguinguiri, J.C.; Ndangang, V.A. (2000). Co-Management of Natural Resources: Organizing, Negotiating and Learning by Doing. International Union of the Conservation of Nature.

Center for Applied Research (2003). Inception Report on Review of Community-Based Natural Resource Management in Botswana. Study carried out for the National CBNRM Forum and submitted to the Review Reference Committee 23rd May 2003. Gaborone, Botswana

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Hilhorst, T. and Aarnik, N. (1999). Co-managing the Commons. Setting the Stage in Mali and Zambia. Royal Tropical Institute. The Netherlands.

IIRR (International Insititue of Rural Reconstruction) (1996). Recording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual. Silang, Phillipines:IIRR,

Johnson, M. (1992). Lore: Capturing Traditional Environmental Knowledge. IDRC: Ottawa, Canada.

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Jones, B.; Murphree, M. (2001). The Evolution of Policy on Community Conservation in Namibia and Zimbabwe. In: Hulme, D.; M.W. Murphree (eds.). African Wildlife and Livelihoods. James currey, Oxford-UK.

Josserand, H. P. (2001). Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) in Africa – A Review for Rural and Agricultural Incomes with a Sustainable Environment (RAISE).

Kambewa, D. (2006). Access and Control in Lake Chilwa Wetlands: An Analysis of Social and Power Relations. PhD Dissertation, University of Malawi.

Kellner, K. and Bosch, O. J. K. (2003). The Value of Local and Indigenous Knowledge for the Development of Information Systems for Conservation Management. In: Conserving Biodiversity in Arid Regions, Lemons, J.; Victor, R. and Schaffer, D. (Eds.). Kluwer Academic Publishers, London.

LWF (2001). Tourism Development Programme – A Sustainable Future. LWF. development programme

Little, P. D. (1999). Living in Risky Environments: The Political Ecology of Pastralism in East Africa. A paper presented at a Symposium in Honor of Gwendolyn Cater: African Development in the 21th Century, Smith College, Northampton, MA, September 1999.

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Gender and Natural Resource Management

C. Ndungo, C. Masiga, I. Bekalo, W.O. Ochola and R. A. Mwonya


In a multiplicity of ways, whether in the realm of reproduction, production or income generation, men and women are differentially crucial to Natural Resource Management (NRM) in their pursuit of livelihoods. The implication of different engagements for men and women in resource use demands an appreciation of gender as key to understanding people—environment relationships and the prospects of sustainable natural resource governance. Gender identity is salient in NRM with regard to the context of culturally constructed roles and relations.

Women have unequal access to information and resources, and are under-represented in decision-making. Gender analysis in natural resources management focuses on the different roles that men and women or boys and girls play in relation to access, management and control in the use of natural resources. It particularly looks into the levels of participation in decision making by men and women. These relationships determine the benefits that women and men drive from natural resources which are important for their sustained engagement in protecting and sustainable use of these resources. In addition, gender analysis in the context of NRM determines how men and women are impacted together or differently by natural resources use or abuse.

Over the years, various tools to identify these gaps and the capacities have been developed which will be discussed in this chapter. In addition, this chapter looks into the various concepts and frameworks used for gender analysis in NRM. The chapter takes a particular view on the question of gender and natural resource management by exploring the specific concepts of gender differences. The chapter makes it possible to analyse livelihood pathways of communities and households by explicitly focusing on access to opportunities and workings of power. How gender difference is materialized through NRM practices is also presented in order to illuminate how gendered perceptions are defined and applied in NRM. The chapter presents a re-inscription of gender through case studies, historical reflections and learning activities depicting processes and practices in which gender comes to matter in people-environment relations at a variety of scales (household, community and beyond).

The overall objective of this chapter is to expose the reader to key gender issues and concerns that relate to management of natural resources in Africa and present useful approaches, tools and frameworks for undertaking specialized gender mainstreaming for sustainable NRM. Specifically, the chapter aims to help the reader to:

• Understand how natural resource management impacts differently on men and women;

• Gain knowledge, skills and understanding of tools to reinforce capacities of individual governments, civil societies and NGOs in gender responsive natural resources management;

• Understand the importance of sex disaggregated data to develop effective gender responsive policies and actions; and

• Understand the importance of women and men participating in decision-and policy- making process so that the needs and concerns of both sexes are represented equitably.

After reading the chapter, the reader is expected to:

• Demonstrate understanding of how the natural resource management impacts differently on men and women;

• Use knowledge and skill of gender disaggregated data in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluation of natural resource management;

• Explain the use of various gender analysis tools, frameworks and approaches;

• Appropriately elicit the participation of women and men in decision- and policy- making process of NRM programmes and projects;

• Guide the process of gender mainstreaming in community based natural resource management.

Why Gender in NRM?

In parts of Africa, the sustainable management of natural resources, including forests, water, land and biodiversity, requires the involvement of multiple social actors or stakeholders, especially the local resources users (both men and women). Decision-making processes and outcomes concerning the use, management and conservation of natural resources requires a careful analysis and appreciation of problems and opportunities and working together to reconcile and integrate any underlying social issues and concerns that may be conflicting or complementary. All NRM initiatives require consideration of both the ecological and sociological aspects of natural resource management dynamics. This usually means looking at larger landscape units, such as, a watershed or a micro-watershed, a community forest or rangeland. It requires dealing systematically with the changing, and often complex interactions among components of a natural resource system or a production system, such as farming, fishing, forestry, herding, collecting edibles or combinations of these. It also requires considering the historical, socioeconomic and political forces that influence these interactions. These forces in turn are defined by such variables as class, gender, age and ethnicity.

Gender relations, like all social relations, are multi-stranded: they embody ideas, values and identities; they allocate labour between different tasks, activities and domains; they determine the distribution of resources; and they assign authority, agency and decision-making power. This means that gender inequalities are multidimensional and cannot be reduced simply to the question of material or ideological constraint. Agrawal (2001) and Kabeer (2003) clarify that these relationships are not always internally cohesive. They may contain contradictions and imbalances, particularly when there have been changes in the wider socio-economic environment.

Women have unequal access to information and resources, and are under-represented in decision-making. They have little or no access to important resources that could have made a difference if women were allowed to make use of and protect them. In most cases, gender neglect in natural resources in many African countries has resulted in sustained conflict between resource managers and users. This in turn has led to the failure of well-intentioned efforts towards sustainable management. There is need to reflect on and integrate social and gender equity, particularly as it relates to participation, inclusion and exclusion, decision making and power relations. For instance, Agarwal (2001) draws attention to processes of exclusion in the case of the formation and operation of community forest groups by expressing the concern that “ostensibly set up to operate on principles of cooperation, such (community forestry) groups are meant to involve and benefit all sections of the community. Yet, effectively, they can exclude significant sections, such as women”.

Many studies such as Agarwal (2001) and Cornwall (2007) improve our understanding of these key social and political processes informed by gender and other variables. However, the practical and context-specific implementation of more socially sensitive NRM interventions remains a very difficult process for many. Most of the social and gender analysis in natural resource management is primarily at the conceptual level.

Who participates in development (research) interventions, projects, programmes, and policies? How exactly? Who benefits from them? Who remains excluded or isolated? These are becoming crucial questions to be considered and integrated into intervention strategies if the aim is to support the more equitable - and sustainable -use of natural resources and the derived benefits. The challenge of integrating gender into natural resources and biodiversity research are, therefore, many (Vernooy and Fajber, 2004). Let us sample a few:

• Knowledge of and experience in social science research among natural resource management researchers and research managers is limited;

• Social science components are not well integrated with natural science components in most research efforts;

• Researchers and research organizations have different starting points, interests and expertise in terms of social and gender issues;

• ‘Gender blindness’ or the refusal to acknowledge the importance of gender issues is common in research and research policy making;

• Short-term training has limited impact;

• Resources in the area of gender and natural resource management in Africa are not widely available.

Farnworth and Jiggins (2003) note: “One of the strong reasons why different men and women of different backgrounds, have different [varietal] preferences is because they relate to the nature in different ways, and often at different times and places.” It is important to develop a better understanding and awareness of the social and power relations that govern access to, use of and control over natural resources. This involves understanding the differences and the inequities of social actors and is dependent on the local contexts.

As pre-requisite, it is also important for facilitating the recognition of the social and gendered nature of technologies, policies and interventions targeting NRM. Policies and technologies are value-laden; women men, and different social groups are involved and affected differently. Gender-awareness in policy and planning requires a prior analysis of the social relations of production within relevant institutions of family, market, state, and community in order to understand how gender and other inequalities are created and reproduced through their separate and combined interactions (Kabeer, 1997). Further, integrating gender in NRM creates space for social actors (women and men) to manoeuvre and to enhance the bargaining and negotiating power of vulnerable groups. This leads to empowerment and transformation where they have more access to, control over and benefits from natural resources.

Gender Concepts and Perspectives in NRM

Defining Gender

What is Gender? There is a difference between sex and gender. Sex refers to the physical and biological or morphological differences between men and women, boys and girls. Gender refers to the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys (Cornwall, 2007). These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes. They are contextual, time-specific, and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a woman or a man in a given context. In most societies, there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities. Gender is part of the broader socio-cultural context. Other important criteria for socio-cultural analysis include class, race, poverty level, ethnic group and age.

Gender is also one of the principal influencing factors – alongside race and caste or class – used for distribution of privileges, prestige, power and a range of social and economic resources. Gender defines the differences and relationships that are socially formed which often vary from people to people and place to place. Understanding these differences and similarities is pivotal in dealing with the inherent complexities of managing natural resources since the roles of both men and women are perceived differently.

The significance of this in NRM is that the lives and experiences of women and men, including their pursuit for livelihoods, occur within complex sets of differing social and cultural expectations and relations. The term gender relations is concerned with the relationships between people and their broader community. These relationships vary with the sex of the people concerned. For example, the relationship between villagers in a given community and their local government entity is a gender relationship, if men and women experience different benefits and controls from it. Effective NRM requires participation of all members of communities which includes men and women at the centre. Understanding of these relationships will help to maximize the contributions of both sexes. The differences due to sex are universal and unchanging.

Gender roles and relationships are the assigned activities and relative position in society of men and women. They help to determine access to opportunities and resources based on local cultural perceptions of masculinity and femininity. Gender relations have been identified as important determinants of the capacity for collective action for NRM. Understanding gender differences in several aspects of social capital for NRM is crucial and should be ultimately mainstreamed in development planning. In NRM, gender analysis:

• Aims to achieve positive change for both men and women;

• Examines the differences in women’s and men’s lives, including those which lead to social and economic inequity for any gender group, and applies this understanding to NRM practice, policy development and service delivery.

Gender analysis in NRM is the process of assessing the differential impact of proposed and/or existing NRM initiatives on men and women of different characteristics. It makes it possible for natural resources to be managed with an appreciation of gender differences, of the nature of relationships between women and men and of their different social realities, life expectations and economic circumstances. It also enhances the understanding of social processes and for responding with informed and equitable options. Gender analysis recognizes that:

• Different strategies may be necessary to achieve equitable outcomes for women and men and different groups of women;

• The life experiences, needs, issues, and priorities vary for different groups of women dependent on age, ethnicity, disability, income levels, employment status, marital status, sexual orientation and whether they have dependants;

• Lives of women and men, experiences, needs, issues and priorities are different within and across;

• Women’s lives are not all the same; the interests that women have in common may be determined as much by their social position or their ethnic identity as by the fact they are women.

Gender analysis aims to achieve equity, rather than equality. Gender equality is based on the premise that women and men should be treated in the same way. This fails to recognize that equal treatment will not produce equitable results, because women and men have different life experiences. Gender equity takes into consideration the differences in the lives of women and men and recognizes that different approaches may be needed to produce outcomes that are equitable. Gender analysis provides the basis for robust analysis of the differences between women and men’s lives, thus removing the possibility of basing analyses on incorrect assumptions and stereotypes. Frameworks and tools for gender analysis are presented later in the chapter.

The Evolution of Gender Perspectives in NRM

The genealogy of gender and natural resources debates is well documented in the literature. According to Resurreccion and Elmhirst (2006) two key strands may be identified:

i) Liberal correctives to gender-blind scholarship within development policy and practice; and

ii) Relational perspectives that emphasize binary power relations between men and women. Common to both is a sense in which experiences of the NRM are differentiated by gender through the materially distinct daily work activities and responsibilities of men and women.

Consequently, men and women hold gender-differentiated interests in natural resource management through their distinctive roles, responsibilities and knowledge. Gender is thus understood as a critical variable in shaping processes of ecological change, viable livelihoods and the prospects for sustainable development. However, relational perspectives on gender purport to give greater emphasis to the dynamics of gender, emphasizing power relations between men and women over resource access and control, and their concrete expressions in conflict, cooperation and coexistence over environments and livelihoods.

In recent years, new work in this area has been influenced by feminist and postcolonial theories. These theories effectively destabilize ‘gender’ as a central analytical category. They explore multidimensional subjectivities, emphasizing how gender is constituted through other kinds of social differences and axes of power such as race, sexuality, class and place, and practices of ‘development’. The feminist approach to gender were intensified earlier on through the United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland) report in 1987, and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Brazil in 1992, where alliances amongst feminist activists from across the world were forged to produce the Women’s Action Agenda 21 (Leach, 2007). This effectively linked concerns with women and gender with environmentally sustainable development: both having been traditionally marginal issues on the development agenda (Dankelman and Davidson, 1988).

Aspects of eco-feminism and Women, Environment and Development (WED) posited natural connections between women and environmental resources, indicating that rural women are the unrecognized caretakers of the nature’s assets, and in whose care the Earth and its resources had better chances of surviving for future generations (Sontheimer, 1991). The logic of WED’ was that women were adversely affected by environmental degradation due to an a priori gender division of labour in which they are usually assigned reproductive roles. Both in terms of exploration of the ‘feminine principle’ in human nature relationships and in the analysis of gender divisions of labour in NRM, the emphasis had been clearly on women and women’s roles (Cornwall, 2007).

This feminist notion is clearly challenged from the viewpoint that women have fixed caretaker roles and that they may just end up being key assets to be ‘harnessed’ in resource conservation initiatives (Rocheleau, 1991). These challenges were also reflected in the advancement of Women In Development (WID) that saw women as a stand-alone homogeneous group with a set of static and predefined roles that translated into their disadvantaged social lives (Rathgeber, 1990). Over the years, there have been strong arguments for more context-specific and historically nuanced understandings of the relationship of specific groups of women with specific natural resources, especially as these are mediated by their complex relations with men, kin and other social actors. Many other schools of thoughts and perspectives have subsequently emerged with a focus on the dynamic nature of social and political relations and contextual analysis, rather than universal assumptions and essentialist views of men’s and women’s engagement with nature. Besides the gender analysis approach associated with Gender, Environment and Development (GED) Green, et al., 1998) emphasize the material aspects of the gender-environment nexus, in particular, gender divisions of resource-based labour and culturally specific gender roles.

Table 5.1: Key Conceptual Differences Between WID and GAD





Women and their exclusion from development initiatives.

The socially constructed relations between men and women, and the subordination of women.

Perceived core problem

Women’s exclusion

Unequal power relationships


Women’s inclusion and more effective development.

Equitable and sustainable development, appropriate participation and decision making.


Full integration of women in development process.

Empowerment and social change

Main strategies

Women’s projects; increasing women’s productivity and income; increasing women’s ability to look after the household.

Reconceptualising the development process taking gender and other inequalities into account; identifying and addressing practical needs of women and men; addressing women’s strategic interests; addressing strategic interests of the poor and marginalized.

Source: Adapted from Connelly et al., (2000).

As a response to the above concerns, the Gender and Development (GAD) emerged as an approach that allows space to comprehensively consider other kinds of gender relations that may be significant in people’s lives beyond conjugal partnerships. For example, seniority, status, co-sanguinity (Cornwall, 2007). In GAD, gender is seen as structuring people’s interactions with and responses to environmental change or shaping their roles in NRM. It also emphasizes the ways in which changing environmental conditions bring into existence categories of social difference including gender. In other words, gender itself is re-inscribed in and through practices, policies and responses associated with shifting environments and natural resource management, and whilst inherently unstable, through repeated acts, it comes to appear as natural and fixed. This approach moves away from single focus on women and individual gender groups in relation to nature. Table 5.1 summarizes the key conceptual differences between WID and GAD approaches. While Table 5.2 presents key milestones in the evolution of gender concept.

It is to be noted that some authors distinguish a third approach—Women, Environment and Development (WED), (Leach et al., 1995). The WED approach has portrayed women as key users and managers of natural resources based on a special (nurturing) relation with nature. As none of the six case studies exemplifies a WED approach, we do not provide further details.

Table 5.2: Major Milestones in the Evolution of Gender


Global actions


Mexico Conference for Women agreed on a women’s decade


Convention on Elimination of all Forms of discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)


Nairobi Looking Forward Strategy was held which brought about the Women In Development (WID) approach.


In 1992: The Rio Declaration which came up with Agenda 21 and has Chapter 24 focusing on women


Human Rights Conference in Vienna


The Cairo Conference on Population


The Beijing Conference


World Summit on Sustainable Development which came up with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)


Beijing+ 10 in New York

Basic Tenets of Key Gender Perspectives

Women In Development (WID): WID first came to prominence in the early 1970’s as an approach to include women in development. It emerged from a notion that women are untapped resources who can provide an economic contribution to development in their countries. Research and information collected throughout the UN Decade for Women (1975-85) highlighted the existing poverty and disadvantage of women and their invisibility in the development process. Different policy responses and interventions focused on women as a separate group. This resulted in women’s concerns being “added on” and being peripheral to mainstream development efforts. WID policies and interventions have in the main concentrated on women’s productive work. The failure to make an explicit link with their reproductive work often adds to women’s workload. Focusing on women in isolation means that unequal gender relations in various social and economic settings remain unaddressed. The proponents’ assumed that women do not have a contribution in the economy. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, women are the ones who take up agriculture but their reproductive roles are not put into consideration. In the context of NRM, WID focuses on the inclusion of women in NRM activities already designed and the approach does not go far enough to analyze the different roles men and women play in NRM.

Women and Development (WAD): WAD came up as a criticism of WID. This was brought about by developing world feminists. Hence, there was need to think of women away from the patriarchal structure and showing their contribution. The focus was equity. This approach was faced with strong resistance in most of the developing countries as being western and which did not respect traditional values and cultures.

Gender in Development (GID) : The GID emerged in the late 1980’s as an alternative to the prevailing Women In Development approach. Unlike WID, which focused on women only, and called for their integration into development as producers and workers, GID focuses on the interdependence of men and women in society and on the unequal relations of power between them. The GID approach aims for a development process that transforms gender relations in order to enable women to participate on an equal basis with men in determining their common future. The GID approach emphasises the importance of women’s collective organization for self empowerment.

Gender and Development (GAD): GAD looks at society holistically. This means not excluding the men. The ultimate goal of the GAD is empowerment. However, this has been potentially challenging with emphasis on Third World and women’s self reliance, and largely, unsupported by governments and agencies. It is meant to help countries achieve transformation, socialization and attitudes in the development process.

In addition to these perspectives, other concepts like empowerment, equity and equality have evolved and are in use in various aspects of social analysis of NRM. Empowerment refers to the “collective undertaking, involving both individual change and collective action.” It means developing an individual’s or community’s ability to collectively and individually take control over their own lives, identify their needs, set their own agendas and demand support from their communities and the state to see that their interests are responded to. In most cases, the empowerment of women and men in society requires transformation of the division of labour and of society (see Sarah Hlupekile Longwe’s Framework in Longwe, 1991).

Gender equity refers to fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men. The concept recognizes that women and men have different needs according to their roles and responsibilities as well as power, and that, these differences should be identified and addressed in a manner that rectifies the imbalance between the genders, especially in managing and distribution of benefits derived from natural resources. Gender equity is concerned with the promotion of equitable personal, social, cultural, political, and economic benefits for all.

The term gender equity emerged out of a growing recognition in society of pervasive gender inequities. Continuing traditions of stereotypical conceptions and discriminatory practices have resulted in the systemic devaluation of attitudes, activities and abilities attributed to and associated with girls and women. The negative consequences of stereotypical conceptions and discriminatory practices adversely affect males as well as females. However, in the short-term, greater emphasis in the gender equity initiatives need to focus on improving conditions and attitudes as they affect girls and women. In the long-term, these initiatives will also improve the situation for boys and men. In NRM, the gender equity concerns are related to equitable access to and control of natural resources by both men and women and boys and girls.

Gender equality refers to equal treatment of women and men in all aspects of development including laws, policies and opportunities as well as access to all resources and services in families, communities and society at large. It implies the absence of discrimination on the basis of the person’s gender with respect to opportunities and the allocation of resources or benefits. In the context of international human rights, the legal concept of gender equality is enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in the 1979 United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Convention which has been ratified by 100 countries, including Kenya, states clearly and unequivocally that “discrimination against women violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity.” The governments of the world reaffirmed their commitment in 1995 to “the equal rights and inherent human dignity of all women and men” in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Gender and Specific Natural Resources

Gender and Land

Food is the basic requisite for survival. Its absence disrupts the link between the environment and survival. Lack of food may be the result of a variety of factors ranging from the lack of land or infertile piece of land, lack of rain, lack of fuel to prepare it and others. These factors are essentially environmental and one could safely assert that environment crises automatically lead to food crises.

Food production is an economic activity which takes place within the natural environment sustained by natural resources. Deterioration of the environment threatens the provision of food. For instance, in Kenya the resource base has been affected by overstocking, water and soil pollution (Muia, and Otiende, 2004).

As land managers, women play a central role in food production. Their activities determine the amount of food available for consumption in the house and provide 60-80 per cent of the labour required in the country (Kameri-Mbote, 1992).

In Kenya, agricultural policy stresses food production with the aim of achieving self-sufficiency (Wanjama, 2004). The determining factor in this respect is women. Of the total Kenyan population, 75 per cent are to be found in the rural areas. Of this, 60 per cent are women who must ensure adequate food for their families regardless of the poor quality of the land (Kameri-Mbote, 1992). Unfortunately, women in Kenya and other African countries do not own land. Both modern land distribution systems and customary land ownership exclusively bestows land ownership to the male counterpart. It means that women cannot use such land as collateral to obtain credit facilities. This also means that women cannot invest on sustainable land management practices which limit their creativity and actions. There is an urgent need for legal and policy instruments to consider women as part and partial of new processes of natural resource management. If we are serious to accelerate promotion of sustainable livelihoods at the community level, women must be given the right to inherit land and have access to recourses and credit. In Kenya, the new constitution has recognised land ownership and inheritance by women.

Gender and Forests

All over Africa, women play a big role as managers of natural resources. Forests are important to subsistence farmers in many ways for which women assume primary responsibilities. Forests maintain atmospheric balance by protecting watershed; protect soil from erosion, attract rain, provide bio-fuel, food and medicine – vegetables, wild roots, medicinal leafs, tubers and honey – and provide grazing grounds. Through each of the above activities, women come in contact with forests daily and have been at the forefront of forest protection and a forestation programmes locally, nationally and globally. Unfortunately, they have not been involved in the decision making on the conservation of these forests.

Depletion of forest resources severely increases women’s labour, especially with regard to the time required to gather fuel-wood and the cost of purchasing it. Without adequate fuel-wood for cooking, household nutrition may be negatively impacted. Without access rights to trees and forests, women’s ability to survive is limited. Access to particular non-timber forest products, such as honey and fodder, is often guided by traditional and cultural norms, regardless of whether they are collected for subsistence or for market. Knowledge of trees and other forest products by both women and men should be incorporated in forest management and conservation plans. Including and applying this often heavily gendered traditional and indigenous knowledge can be critical to the success of a project.

Gender and Climate Change

It is becoming clear that vulnerability to specific impacts of climate change will be more severe when and where they are felt together with stresses from other sources.1 The UNEP GEO-4 report has highlighted the increase in human vulnerability caused by effects of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as water and food supply. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its fourth assessment report (IPCC, 2007) has further predicted that climate impacts will be differently distributed among different regions, generations, age, classes, income groups, occupations and genders and that the poor, primarily but by no means exclusively in developing countries, will be disproportionately affected, while the UNDP 2007 Human Development Report states that climate change is likely to magnify existing patterns of gender inequalities.

1 A fuller account of effects of climate change is discussed in Chapter 6.

One of the most apparent examples can be found in the agricultural sector in Africa, where women constitute a majority (70%) of the workforce (Todaro, 2003). As weather patterns change and extreme weather events are expected to increase in number and magnitude, women will be affected more. It will become increasingly difficult for women to follow the traditional growing and harvesting cycles and provide for subsistence of their families. For example, as wells and springs dry up because of droughts and climate change, both men and women suffer, but the ones who suffer most are women because it is women who walk long distances to fetch water. One way of addressing such issues is by involving women in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the above projects, because they are the ones who bear the heaviest burden when water is scarce.

Since men and women hold gender differentiated interests in natural resource management through their distinctive roles, responsibilities and knowledge, gender, therefore, must be understood as a critical variable in shaping processes of ecological change, viable livelihoods and the prospects for sustainable development. (Sontheimer, 1991).

Jackson (1993a, 1993b) was among the first to propose that gender analysis should focus on power relations between women and men and that women be treated as a disaggregated group of subjects as gender roles are socially and historically constructed are and being continually reformulated. He challenged the idea of women as a natural constituency for environmental projects, underscoring the contingent nature and fluidity of gender interests.2 It is also clear that various studies hold views that gender is relational (Meinzen-Dick and Zwarteveen, 1998; Agarwal, 1997; Guijt and Shah, 1998; Cleaver, 2003; Colfer, 2005; Momsem, 2007): involving the interaction of men and women, structured through norms and institutions, reconfigured through individual agency. This is an indication that gender is salient within policy and practice across a variety of scales, and within institutions central to natural resource management; from gendered property relations to the gendered positions of actors within organizations charged with governing or managing natural resources. This is the more reason gender-blind scholarship within development policy and practice is questionable. Expressing feminist environmentalism, Agarwal (1992, 1994) emphasizes the material aspect of gender, in particular, gender divisions of resource-based labour and culturally specific gender roles. His political ecology draws focus on resource access and control, and gendered construction of knowledge. This is a discussion that is geared towards capturing the gender-environment nexus in various geographical and resource use contexts, for instance, in forestry, land and agriculture, and water (Tinker, 1997; Cranney, 2001; Rocheleau, 1984; Leach, 1994; Sachs, 1996).

2 See Moser, 1993, for more details of practical and strategic gender needs in the wider field of gender and development.

Studies on the victims of climate-change-related-disasters both in developing and developed world have shown that it is the economically and socially weaker groups who suffer most. To a larger extent, this group consists of women (Todaro, 2003 p.230). The impact of environmental degradation on the economic and social well being of the world community has become very severe and is expected to deteriorate. We can no longer carry on business as usual. Each individual government and the world community as a whole, have to re-think the way it operates, or else, the timely achievement of the MDGs or Vision 2030 becomes increasingly unrealistic. Due to their gender differences, adaptive capacities of men and women also differ (Figure 5.1).


Figure 5.1: A Maasai Pastoral Woman (Left) Unable to Compete With Men (Right) in Securing Watering Rights for Livestock in Kajiado, Kenya.

Photo by W.O. Ochola, 2007

The gender differentiated impacts of environmental degradation exacerbated by climate change require the integration of gender perspectives in design and implementation of policies and laws to capture economic and social opportunities that have so far been neglected. For example, after the over exploitation of the woodland cover that led to lack of firewood in Kambiri area of Kenya, women’s project of re-forestation led to increased vegetation cover, increased soil fertility, availing firewood and reducing over exploitation of the nearby forest. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has acknowledged these initiatives as instrumental in addressing the consequences of the emissions of green house gases in Africa There are a number of factors that continue to constrain the development of gender responsive policies and strategies:

Firstly, for a full understanding of the connection between gender and the environment within the context of climate change, the collection of gender-disaggregated data in key sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, energy and water is mandatory. Secondly, to ensure that policies are truly gender responsive, the concept of gender has to feature throughout the life-cycle of a policy, i.e. design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, meaning that gender sensitive indicators have to be developed. Thirdly, both women and men should participate in decision and policy making process in order to ensure that their interests are equitably represented.

The argument for the increased participation of women in natural resource management is built upon a claim that women had privileged knowledge and experience of working closely with environment (Apusigah, Dec. 2009 pp.51-52). Since the early 1980s, considerable interest has been shown in the relationship between women and the environment. Efforts have been made to identify effects of the international environmental crisis on women worldwide. At one NGO workshop, which ran parallel to the first World Conference on Women in Nairobi (1985), the themes of women and environment were coupled for the first time at the policy level. Since then, the issue of women and environment has always played a role in the policies of both donors and developing countries. The process received a further boost in the early 1990s when the Women Action Agenda 21 was drawn up in the follow-up to the 1992 UN Conference on Environmental and Development (UNCED) (Sterling, 1999).

During the early years, the so called WED debate framed this discussion. Women’s network participated in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The policy document Women’s Action Agenda 21 and the Planet Femea event held at the Global Forum at Rio helped to infuse a gender perspective into the output of the Rio Summit. Because of these activities, gender is now an established item on the international environment and development agenda.

The above issue was highlighted further when 189 heads of states and Governments from the North and South, as representatives of their citizens, signed onto the Millennium Declaration at the 2000 UN Millennium Summit where special emphasis was drawn to promote Gender Equality and Empower Women as its seventh goal to be achieved by 2015. This Millennium Declaration gave a further boost to the issue of linking women and environment at the policy level to frame effective policies, which can be beneficial to all.

Gender and Fisheries

The role of women and men in the management and use of natural resource-based livelihoods such as fisheries in Africa has already been acknowledged but has rarely been valued on an equitable basis. In many fisheries, women have traditionally occupied the pre and post-harvest sector concentrating on financing the fleet, processing and marketing the catch. The many concerns in this sector are evident in many fish landing bays in the region. Further, women have also had to look after the household unit taking care of the family’s educational, health and dietary needs. It is increasingly becoming important to take a gendered view of natural resource management, although this view is still rare in the fisheries sector. The social space occupied by women in the fish industry has remained invisible to researchers, policy makers and other actors in the sector. This has been attributed to cultural stereotypes. The minimal documentation on women’s role in the sector can be explained by a number of factors.


Figure 5.2: Fishing as a Natural Resource Exploitation Activity Requires Understanding of Underlying Gender Issues.

Photo from Mzondwe Village- Mozambique (Credit: Henrich Böll Stuftung)

Firstly, the debate on fish catch and production goals and solving the ‘over-exploitation’ problem is dominated by men and continues to dominate national policy agendas. As a result, research attention continues to be focused on the catching sector (male dominated) rather than the processing and marketing sector (female dominated). Secondly, research which purports to be gender-neutral is often ‘genderblind’ and fails to see the bigger livelihoods picture. Gender roles in the fisheries sector are dynamic and have to change in relation to each other and their activities in order that livelihoods are protected and the ultimate goals of food provision, family security and socio-economic advancement can be attained. Box 5.1 summarizes a case of fisheries related gender issues in West Africa.

Box 5.1: Gender and Fishing in West Africa

Gender and Community Based NRM Institutions and Groups Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) is based on the premise that local populations have a greater interest in the sustainable use of resources than the state or corporate organizations. The local communities by virtue of their everyday practices have an enhanced knowledge of local ecological processes and that these communities are more able to effectively manage resources through local forms of access (Tsing et al., 2005). Interest in CBNRM has coincided with specific efforts to target gender equity in policy interventions through gender mainstreaming, which theoretically inserts gender concerns across policies and development practices at a number of levels (McIlwaine and Datta, 2003; Molyneux, 2004; Radcliffe, 2006). This institutionalization of gender should not lose its focus by slipping into a focus on women alone but this should be a tool to address messy politics of gender equality and equity.

The most appropriate strategy to reach and assist greater numbers of rural women is to integrate them in mainstream agricultural services and resources management. The integration of women in agricultural programmes can be achieved by specifically including them as target in all major agricultural and natural resource management components, such as credit, technological skills and other trainings, delivery of extension and inputs, access to expanding markets, agricultural research, natural resource management research and education and price support of agricultural products.

The changes needed to make existing policies; programmes and projects gender sensitive will require close monitoring and evaluation and are best achieved by pressure from groups within countries. The role of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Non-Govermental Organizations (NGOs) in leading and setting an example is now being recognised. The holistic approach, which forges links between all stakeholders, including the various ministries of governments, NGOs and CBOs, the private sector, the academic community and the broader civil society is over due. The management and social sustainability of CBNRM institutions is also gender-bound. According to Westermann and Ashby (2008), the different and complementary roles of women and men in social capital formation for NRM occur in different forms:

i) Women and men commonly depend on different kinds of social relations or networks;

ii) Women and men may value collaboration differently with women often having more everyday experiences of informal collaboration based on reciprocal relationships and higher dependence on social relations for access to household resources;

iii) Women are better able to overcome social division and conflicts because of their greater interdependency and their everyday experiences of collaboration.

Any examination of the complex causal relationships between gender and collective NRM through different gender-related stocks and usage of social capital requires an innovative three-dimensional framework that combines elements of gender analysis, collective NRM, and social capital based on previous frameworks developed for environmental collective action. Box 5.2 illustrates a case of gender complexities in management of CBOs.

Box 5.2: Gender Issues in CBO Management: Case of Nomadic Integrated Development and Research Agency (NIDRA)

Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks of Gender Responsive Natural Resource Management

Any given development process should focus at improving the standard of living of all people. This means that women, girls, men and boys should actively participate and benefit from any development programme meant to improve their socioeconomic status. Yet, many communities in developing countries discriminate against women especially in access to and control of natural resources resulting to girls bearing the largest and most direct costs of the inequalities in our society. These inequalities go unnoticed. For instance, in the agricultural sector, where according to the World Bank Report (1998); African women perform ninety per cent (90%) of the work of processing food, hoeing, weeding, storage and transport from farm to village; and sixty per cent of work of harvesting and marketing. Yet, inequalities in land ownership make it impossible for women to get agricultural credit to enable them improve their farms or take charge of the management of the same farms. This is further compounded by denying the girl-child the right to education in many communities which impacts on the range of expertise and skilled labour that she would use to improve the production capacity of the natural resources.

Traditionally, natural resource management and conservation has been the domain of men because of their earlier hunting activities and later on the preservationist-focused policies that were established during the colonial period (Tedla, 2007). The mutually supporting links between local communities and their environment and wildlife were broken as powerful leaders, influenced by western conservationist organizations, gave priority to the conservation of mega species rather than local livelihoods (Tedla,. 2007). People were alienated from policies and processes that had an impact on their land and access to natural resource. As the conservation movement strengthened, local communities increasingly found their access to land and natural resources curtailed and their role in decision-making diminished. Women played little role in the conservation processes, the movement itself being seen as a man’s domain and where this world interacted with communities, it did so through local male leaders (McClintock, 1995).

With time, conservation has moved from that based on protectionism to more community-focused and inclusive processes; the importance of including all natural resource users having become evident. Western, et al., (1994) and Rihoy (1995) say that Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) and CBNRM reestablished those broken linkages between conservation of natural resources and people’s development. Natural capital became an important factor in the success and sustainability of local livelihoods. Slowly, the value of women’s contribution is being recognised: Their knowledge and experience, together with their roles in both protecting and destroying the natural resources base is being valued.

As we have noted, emphasis on WED in the 1980s replaced the increasingly ineffective WID policies of the 1970s. However, women are still missing out with processes being inefficient in explaining the variety of interests, motivations and power relations in which women found themselves in regard to natural resources and the environment resulting in a lack of appropriate interventions. Gender became a priority and thinking shifted to GAD and GED. Seemingly, this had opened up more constructive opportunities for a better understanding and engagement with women, gender relations and environment. To achieve equity and equality both men and women must be involved and interventions developed based on a clear understanding of relations, roles, responsibilities, and participation in decision making processes etc (Tedla, 2007).

Gender-Related Differences in Natural Resource Management

Many aspects of life affect women and men differently. Even the natural resources that we have are used by women and men differently. For instance, both men and women utilize forests, wetlands and other ecological zones and their products differently. This may also vary with age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, location of forests, exposure and level of technology (Ghatak, 1995; Flintan, 2003; Flintan, 2004). For example, men may focus on the use of timber while women use medicinal plant or wild fruits for their economic needs.

Certain roles are specifically associated with different gender groups while others are not. Predominant male roles are construction, that is, building of houses in some communities, cultivation and charcoal making. Predominant female roles at household level include: drawing water, fetching firewood, and domestic chores like cooking, washing, cleaning and taking care of children. Cultivation, cutting grass and tree planting are shared roles, but in some traditions, women are not allowed to plant or cut trees.

Women tend to collect natural resources closer to home so that they can attend to house chores, while men travel long distances. Culture also plays a big role in influencing gender roles. For instance, Flintan (2004) in his research in Ethiopia says that cultural restrictions prevent women from collecting the wild cardamom and firewood. Their husbands collect them on their behalf so that women can only do the selling in the markets closer home or even use them at home. Such cultural taboos can serve as a hindrance for gender equitable division of labour. For instance, in some Kenyan communities, there are taboos that prevent married women from planting trees such as eucalyptus. It is believed that if this married women plants a tree that will be used for timber, the roots of this tree will grow towards the house and overturn it, (Mwangi, 1993). In other communities, women are prevented from planting trees along the boarders with neighbours for the fear that they may not know the exact boundaries.

These roles are learnt through socialization whereby boys and girls are taught what is expected of them when they grow up as women and men. Thus, the gender perceptions are culturally constructed by what is considered as the norm for different gender groups in the society. The roles that different gender groups play at household level are not different from the roles they play at the community level. Gender roles and relations are deeply rooted within the society that when in a village, a young man is seen carrying out a role that is perceived to be feminine, he is isolated by his age groups and at times, even warned by elders that he is developing a behaviour which is not masculine.

Such cultural practices give men certain advantages over their women colleagues. For example, men are more privileged to focus on certain planned activities which give them the opportunity to specialize and land on better economic incentive. As the result, they tend to be more involved in commercial activities and less concerned with the domestic ones. For example, charcoal making tends to be the responsibility of men, where as trading can be dominated by women, particularly those from near market places (Tedla, 2007). The irony is that although women do the marketing, they surrender the sale to their husbands. The reasons for these assigned roles and responsibilities vary from community to community and from culture to culture. For some, they say that they inherited these cultural beliefs and customs. Unfortunately, some of these practices were strengthen by the colonialists when they introduced cash crops predominantly produced by men while women participated in the subsistence production. Others linked to their religion beliefs that god designed men and women to play the roles they play, because they are inborn talents (Tekla, 2007).

Deeper into the pre-colonial societies, we find that even though there were different roles for women and men; women were equipped to manage their environment competently despite the limitations placed on them. Checks and balances existed in these societies to ensure that women were protected against abuses by men (Kameri-Mbote ed. 1992). For instance, while the woman was expected to grow certain crops, her husband was supposed to avail to her the land suitable to grow crops. Although public and political positions were the preserve of men, women had institutions where they could question what they did not like in the society, in which case, women were not totally powerless, because they were able to participate and question the actions of men (Kameri-Mbote, 1992). In this set up, natural resources like land were common properties owned by a community. But even then, land was traditionally owned by men. Women had usufructuary rights through their male relatives. The situation may not have been ideal but was dynamic in as far as gender was concerned. Colonial period drew boundaries apportioning responsibility, authority and wealth. They redefined and re-established modes of access to natural resources, thereby creating antagonism between men and women.

Privatization of land and colonialism in general eroded women’s autonomy in decision making regarding what crop to grow. This was due to the competing needs for land and labour.

Gender Mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming is a systematic inclusion of gender concerns in all aspects of the organizations life such as programmes, policies, budgets, skills, financial and human resource systems. This can be achieved more effectively through an organization and not through isolated individual efforts. Support for women organizations is a key strategy to promoting women’s empowerment. Women must empower themselves, and women organizations are an important part of women’s individual and collective empowerment. Women organizations that are effective are perquisites for women’s empowerment their support may be financial, but must also involve helping to create networks, and establish connections between autonomous women organizations and those in key positions of power. Funding mechanisms which minimize the bureaucracy in funding women initiatives need to be further developed.

Promoting women empowerment also involves examining organizational culture, political will and accountability of its leadership. Structural and process that constraint and cause conflict with women empowerment goals in the organizational must be identified and dealt with. Increased flexibility in funding procedures and greater transparency in relationships with communities are key for success. Mainstreaming, a gender perspective in all policy work, is fundamental, because it assesses the implication of women and men in all planned actions and at all levels. It is also a strategy for making men as well as women’s concerns and needs an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that men and women benefit equally and the impunity of inequity is done away with.

Presently, donor agencies have come to see women as vulnerable: “their responsibilities as day-to-day environmental managers…make women both victims of and contributors to the natural environment’s degradation and pollution” (World Bank, 1991). On the other hand, awareness, gradually grew of many grassroots success stories of women fighting to conserve local resources such as those described in “Power to Change” (Women’s feature Service, 1994). This then led to women being viewed as major local assets to be harnessed in the interests of better environmental management (Braidotti et al., 1994).

The problem of this new approach – Women being seen as ‘assets to be harnessed in the interests of better environmental management – is that it is not always honoured in practice. Firstly, projects intentions can be subverted, leaving environmental management to community level institutions. The most cited examples, are the projects promoted by the Aga Khan Programme in Northern Pakistan. These projects do not guarantee women’s access to project resources. The aim of involving women in all stages of the project cycle often translates into demands on women to do voluntary work, without giving them a fair share of project benefits.

Secondly, compared to a gender analysis of the underlying problems, environmental projects promote a limited set of aims. The policy documents (e.g. World Bank, 1991) acknowledge that lack of property rights reduces women’s capacity to conserve environmental resources. The ‘new approach’ does not address this issue..

Thirdly, investors in NRM still promote the practice of women access to credit to help them manage resources and build up assets. But this is naïve because it assumes that traditional male control over land and other assets will not extend to newly acquired natural resources. Trying to give women authority within isolated projects without taking into account their restricted property rights is almost bound to fail. We must try to find a way of strengthening women’s control over natural resource management. For instance, legal changes that guarantee women independent property rights and increased political representation would go a long way in solving this problem. This can be done at the national and local levels by building up women’s capacity to claim the new rights attained.

Another approach suggested for environmental projects for instance, the Aga Khan promoted projects that we have seen above, is support for collective actions by women (Agarwal, 1994). Women have more chances of exercising rights as a group than as individuals, and this has the potential to confer inalienable use rights over natural resources. Examples are given of ‘wasteland development projects in India, such as the Bankora projects in west Bengal, which have successfully supported women groups’ efforts of regenerating forests to improve land productivity. They also build on women’s greater use rights over common property than on privatised lands.

Support of women’s collective actions in addressing natural resource management problems is one instance of a general strategy to strengthen women’s bargaining power in relationship with their male counter parts. This could be developed into a policy to help overcome environmental problems affecting women in the management of natural resources.

Spurred by the foregoing views, on an extensive scale; Governments, International and National donor agencies, NGOs and Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) should design natural resource management programmes and projects that focus on forest conservation and social forestry, soil conservation and improvement, water capture and distribution and water shed management. Even if the long-term development goal of the above projects is increased productivity, the importance of both distributional equity and resource stewardship will be enhanced.

There is also an increasing consciousness that management of natural resources takes place in an ecosystem context, in which consequences may not be measurable or even discernable during a normal project cycle. In the same way, interventions designed to improve the status of women take place in the context of a human ecology- in their household relationships, their community relationships and their relationships with the environment around them. This shows us that no single sector can be successfully isolated in any development project. Focus must be put on both inputs and outputs, which inevitably yield unexpected results felt economically, socially and environmentally.

As we mentioned earlier, gender equality and equity are matters of fundamental human rights and social justice and, a pre-condition for sustainable development. In the use, management and conservation of natural resources; women and men have different roles and responsibilities that vary greatly from region to region. Women often make their contributions to the family, community and society with an equal access to, control over and benefits from resources and resource use. This inequality often exists in a context.

Gender Integration in the Natural Resource Management

Integrating gender concerns in natural resource management has to be understood in the context of gender mainstreaming. U.N. Economic and Social Council (1997:28) observes that mainstreaming a gender perspective is a process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes in all areas and at all levels. Department for International Development (DFID) (2002:9) provides a more comprehensive definition,

“A commitment that women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences are integral to the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all legislation, policies and programmes so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. Gender mainstreaming is integral to all development decisions and interventions; it concerns the staffing, procedures and culture of the development organizations as well as their programmes: and it forms part of the responsibility of all staff”

DFID’s gender manual recognizes four key steps in gender mainstreaming:

• Sex disaggregated data;

• Gender analytical information;

• Women as well as men influencing the development agenda;

• Context specific working definition of gender mainstreaming.

The following diagram illustrates these points.


Figure 5.3: DFID Gender Mainstreaming Strategy

As illustrated in Figure 5.3, the goal of gender mainstreaming is to attain gender equality. This can happen by having a strategy that integrates the concerns of both men and women in policies and programmes. There is also a need to develop specific activities aimed at empowering women.

The Gender Analysis Frameworks

Gender analysis is a sub-set of socio-economic analysis. It reveals the connections between gender relations and the development problem to be solved. Its purpose may be two-fold: (i) to “surface” the fact that gender relations are likely to have an impact on the solution to the problem, and (ii) to indicate exactly what that impact is likely to be, and alternative courses of action. Gender issues are significant to the policy area, and play a determining role in policy outcomes.

It is extremely important to perceive that we live in societies that are permeated by gender differences and gender inequalities. There is no country in which the outcomes of public policy are equal for men and women, but the dimensions of these inequalities are often so deeply embedded that they are difficult to perceive. Gender analysis reveals these differences, and the fact that in such a social context, any gender interventions that profess to be gender-neutral will in fact reflect and probably reinforce the imbalances that exist. Gender analysis of various kinds is, therefore, required to bring these inequalities the attention of people who can make a difference, so that their decisions are taken in a manner that is sensitive to and reflects the outcome of gender analysis.

Gender Analysis Frameworks are step-by-step tools for carrying out gender analysis, which help to raise questions, analyze information, and develop strategies to increase women’s and men’s participation in and benefits from projects and programmes. It is the systematic way of exploring roles and responsibilities of women and men and their access to and control over resources and benefits within a particular setting, project, household or community.

Gender analysis in NRM involves looking at different impacts of development programmes and projects on women and men because women and men perform different activities in society and NRM policies and plans affect them in different ways.

Gender Analysis Frameworks refers to methods of research and planning for assessing and promoting gender issues in institutions. The frameworks were developed to address different aspects of gender equality and hence are used for different policy priorities. They are designed to explore division of labour between men and women in agriculture and in more urban settings (Harvard and Moser, 1993 Frameworks, respectively), gender mainstreaming in institutions (Levy Framework), gender differentials in the impact of projects at community level (Gender Analysis Matrix (GAM) Framework), and assessment of the contributions of interventions in all sectors to the empowerment of women (Longwe Framework) among others. The Frameworks are used to integrate gender considerations in development programmes and development activities or research. They provide qualitative and quantitative information on gender relations, creates understanding and awareness of the existing gender issues at the level of development workers, community researchers and planners. They enhance the understanding of the implications of the different development activities for both men and women.

Gender analysis recognises that:

• Women and men’s lives and, therefore, experiences, needs issues and priorities are different especially in regard to natural resource management;

• Women’s lives are not all the same; the interests that women have in common in the Management of Natural Resources may be determined by other factors such as their social position, ethnicity and the fact that they are women;

• Women’s life experiences, needs, issues and priorities are different for different ethnic groups especially in Africa where the issues of Natural Resource Management are concerned;

• The life experiences, needs, issues and priorities vary for different categories of women dependent on age, ethnicity, disability, income levels, employment status, marital status, sexual orientation and whether they have dependants;

• Different strategies in the Management of Natural Resources may be necessary to achieve equitable incomes for women and men

Figure 5.4 illustrates the different aspects of gender analysis that may be involved in designing NRM project with gender dimensions while Box 5.3 summarizes the rationale for gender analysis in NRM.

Box 5.3 Why Gender Analysis in NRM?

Gender Analysis for Projects

The gender analysis framework has four parts in projects and is carried out in two main steps. First, information is collected for the activity profile and the access and control profile. Then this information is used in the analysis of factors and trends influencing activities, access and control, and in the project cycle analysis.

The Harvard Analytical Framework

The Harvard Analytical Framework is also called the Gender Roles Framework or Gender Analysis Framework. It was developed by the Harvard Institute for International development in collaboration with the WID office of United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This is based on the WID efficiency approach and is one of the earliest frameworks designed for gender analysis and planning for women and men. The framework is a tool to understand differences between men and women in relation to their participation. This enables project planners and policy makers to make an economic case for allocating resources to women as well as men. It is used in adopting a sustainable livelihoods approach to poverty reduction. It is also used for analysis of productive work.


Figure 5.4: Project-Based Gender Analysis Framework

The framework emphasizes that both men and women are involved in development as actors and as beneficiaries. As such, there is economic sense in allocating resources to both. The framework helps planners to design projects that are more efficient and which improve overall productivity.

According to Overholt, et al., (1984), the framework consists of four interrelated components or tools:

• Activity profile;

• Access and control profile;

• Analysis of determinant factors;

• Project cycle analysis.

Activity Profile

This component categorizes the activities undertaken viz: productive, reproductive and community, then outlines who does them, when and where. It has been adapted to reflect community activities and also to look at how and why the activities are done. This process helps to understand the gender division of labour and how it comes about. Productive Activities are the activities that produce goods and services which have an economic gain or monetary value. These could include, wage employment, trade, and marketing to mention just a few. Both men and women are involved in productive activities. Women’s productive work is often less valued because in most cases, there is no monitory value attached to it. Reproductive Activities are done for generation and maintenance of human life. They include child bearing and rearing, household work, cooking, washing clothes utensils, etc. This type of work is usually not recognized, nor is it accounted for in the Gross National Product (GNP). To a large extent, women and girls are involved in carrying out reproductive work in most parts of this world.

The Access and Control Profile

The access and control profile, identifies the resources used to carry out the work identified in the activity profile, and access to and control over their use, by gender. It indicates whether men or women have access to resources, who controls their use and who controls the benefits of a household or community use of resources. The person who controls a resource ultimately makes decisions on its use including whether it can be sold. In gender analysis, it is often found that whereas women have wide access to resources and benefits, the control of those resources largely rests with men, thus shifting gender power relations in men’s favour.

Figure 5.5 is an example of a participatory assessment tool for gender analysis information on access and control of resources related to camel among the Rendile tribe in northern Kenya.


Figure 5.5: Access and Control Profile for Camel Resource among the Rendile in Kenya

Source: Ochola et al., (2008)

Analysis of Determinant Factors

A number of factors influence how the Harvard framework is used. They include but are not limited to culture/tradition, education, religion, politics, economics, environment, wars, legal, demographic trends, exposure, etc. For proper targeting and strategizing, planners need to understand these factors and the extent to which they are amenable. The purpose of identifying these influencing factors is to consider which ones affect women or men’s activities or resources and how they in turn can respond to them.

The Project Cycle

The project cycle analysis examines a project or intervention in light of gender-disaggregated information and captures the different effects of the social change on men and women. Key questions are asked at each stage of the project cycle: identification, design, implementation, and evaluation.

Uses of the Framework

• Best suited for project planning, rather than programme or policy planning.

• As a gender-neutral entry point when raising gender issues with constituents resistant to considering gender relations and power dynamics.

• For baseline data collection.

• In conjunction with Moser’s framework, to draw in the idea of strategic gender needs.

Strengths of the Harvard Framework

• It is practical and hands-on.

• Once the data have been collected, it gives a clear picture of who does what, when and with what resources. It makes women’s role and work visible.

• It distinguishes between access to and control over resources.

• It can be easily adapted to a variety of settings and situations.

• It is relatively non-threatening, because it relies on “facts” only.

This framework is useful for collecting and organizing information that can then be used at any stage of the project cycle. It provides clear information on the gender division of labour and makes women’s work visible. It makes a distinction between access and control over resources. The framework is more useful for projects than for programmes as it depends on micro-level analysis. It can be adapted and used, for example, with the Moser Framework tools for practical and strategic gender needs assessment. It can be useful as a gender neutral “entry point” for introducing discussions on gender issues, especially where there may be resistance.

By reviewing the question of control over resources, this framework is useful as the basis for a preliminary discussion of power relationships, although this was not its original intention.

Limitations of Harvard Analytical Framework

The Harvard Analytical Framework has a perspective which is efficiency rather than equity oriented, focusing on allocating new resources in order to make a programme more efficient than addressing unequal gender relations. It tends to focus on material resources rather than on social relationships. The analysis can be carried out in a non- participatory way without the involvement of women and men from a community. In summary, the limitations are:

1) Based on WID (efficiency) rationale, which aims at increasing project/programme efficiency. It does not delineate power relations or decision-making processes. Therefore, the framework offers little guidance on how to change existing gender inequalities. It tends to result in gender-neutral or gender-specific interventions, rather than those that can transform existing gender relations;

2) Tends to oversimplify, based on a somewhat superficial, tick-the-boxes approach to data collection, ignoring complexities in the community; may result in lost opportunities for change;

3) Is basically a top-down planning tool, excluding women’s and men’s own analysis of their situation;

4) Ignores other underlying inequalities, such as class, race and ethnicity, encouraging an erroneous view of men and women as homogeneous categories;

5) Emphasizes separation of activities and resources based on sex or age, ignoring connections and co-operative relations across these categories. This can result in projects that may not tackle women’s strategic gender needs;

6) The profile yields a somewhat static view of the community, without reference to changes over time in gender relations.

Women Empowerment Framework by Sarah Longwe

This framework was developed by Sara Hlupekile Longwe as a method of analysing development projects (Williams et al., 1994). The aim of the framework is intended to help planners question what women’s empowerment and equality means in practice and assess critically to what extent a development intervention is supporting this empowerment.

The framework is based on five ‘levels of equality’. The extent to which they exist in social or economic life determines the level of women’s empowerment. The framework also allows gender and development workers to analyse development organizations, degree of commitment to women’s equality and empowerment. March et al., (1999) outline the two main tools of Longwe’s Framework:

Tool 1: Levels f Equality

The Longwe Framework’s five ‘levels of equality’ indicate the extent to which women are equal with men, and have achieved empowerment. The levels of equality are:

Control: This term refers to women’s control over the decision making process through conscientisation and mobilisation, to achieve equality of control over the factors of production and the distribution of benefits. Equality of control means a balance of control between men and women, so that neither side dominates;

Participation: The framework considers women’s equal participation in the decision making process, in policy-making, planning, and administration. It is a particularly important aspect of development projects, where participation means involvement in needs-assessment, project formulation, implementation, and evaluation. Equality of participation means involving women in making the decisions by which their community will be affected, in a proportion which matches their proportion in the wider community;

Conscientisation: This is a conscious understanding of the difference between sex and gender, and an awareness that gender roles are cultural and can be changed. ‘Conscientisation’ also involves a belief that the sexual division of labour should be fair and agreeable to both sides, and not involve the economic or political domination of one sex by the other;

Access: This is defined as women’s access to the factors of production on an equal basis with men; equal access to land, labour, credit, training, marketing facilities, and all public services and benefits. Longwe points out that equality of access is obtained by applying the principles of equality of opportunity, which typically entails the reform of the law and administrative practice to remove all forms of discrimination against women;

Welfare: Longwe defines this as the level of women’s material welfare, relative to men. Do women have access to resources such as food supply, income and, medical care?

In this Framework, the levels of equality are hierarchical. March et al., (1999) suggests that if a development intervention focuses on the higher levels, there is greater likelihood that women’s empowerment will be increased by the intervention. If the intervention focuses only on welfare, it is very unlikely that women will find the project empowering.

Tool 2: Level of Recognition of ‘Women’s Issues’

Longwe suggests that it is important to establish whether women’s issues are ignored or recognised by identifying the extent to which project objectives are concerned with women’s development. In this context, women’s issues relate to all issues concerned with women’s equality in any social or economic role, and involving any of the levels of equality. That is, an issue becomes a women’s issue when it considers the relationship between men and women, rather than simply at women’s traditional and subordinate sex-stereotyped gender roles (March, et al., 1999). This tool assumes that women’s empowerment is the concern of both women and men. March, et al., (1999) describes the three levels of recognition (defined by Longwe) in project design as:

Negative Level: the project makes no mention of women’s issues. Experience has shown that the project is likely to be detrimental to women (i.e. women are very likely to be left worse by the project);

Neutral level: Project objectives recognise women’s issues, but concerns remain that the project intervention does not leave women worse off than before;

Positive level: the project objectives are positively concerned with women’s issues, and with improving the position of women relative to men.

Moser Framework

The Moser Framework (gender planning) was developed as a planning tradition in its own right. It takes the view that gender planning, unlike other mainstream planning, is “both technical and political in nature”. It assumes conflict in the planning process. It involves transformative processes and it characterises planning as a “debate.” There are six tools in the framework that can be used for planning at all levels from project to regional planning.

Tool 1: Gender Roles Identification/Triple Role

This tool focuses mainly on the gender division of labour. Gender roles identification involves mapping out all the activities of men and women (including girls and boys) in the household and community at large in reference to national resource management. It highlights the productive work, reproductive work, and community management roles.

Productive work: This is work that produces goods and services for consumption by the household or for income and is performed by both men and women. Women’s productive work is often carried out alongside their domestic and childcare responsibilities (reproductive work) and tends to be less visible and less valued than men’s productive work.

Reproductive work: This work involves the bearing and rearing of children and all the tasks associated with domestic work and the maintenance of all household members. These tasks include cooking, washing clothes, cleaning, collecting water and fuel, caring for the sick and the elderly. Women and girls are mainly responsible for this work which is usually unpaid.

Community roles: Women’s activities in the community include the provision and maintenance of resources which are used by everyone, such as water, healthcare and education. These activities are undertaken as an extension of their reproductive role and are normally unpaid and are carried out in their free time. In contrast, it is mainly men who are involved in politics at the community level. This work may be paid or unpaid but can increase men’s status in the community.

Tool 2: Gender Needs Assessment

The Moser Framework further assesses the gender needs of men and women in the community in reference to NRM using the gender needs assessment tool.

Moser developed this tool from the concept of women’s gender interests which was first developed by Maxine Molyneux in 1984. Women have particular needs because of their triple role as well as their subordinate position to men in society. Triple role refers to women’s productive, reproductive and community tasks. Women’s needs differ from men’s needs. A distinction is made between practical gender needs and strategic gender interests or needs.

Women and men have different roles and responsibilities and therefore have different interests and needs in the management of natural resources. These are called gender interests and needs, practical and strategic. Practical and strategic gender interests and needs should not be seen as separate, but rather as a continuum. By consulting women on their practical gender interests and needs, an entry point to address gender inequalities in the longer term (strategic gender interests and needs) can be created.

Practical Gender Needs: These are gender needs that women and men can easily identify, as they relate to living conditions. Women may identify safe water, food, health care, cash income, as immediate needs which they must meet while men may identify care, sex, security and money. Meeting women and men’s practical gender needs is essential in order to improve living conditions, but in itself, will not change the prevailing disadvantaged (subordinate) position especially on the part of women. It may, in fact, reinforce the gender division of labour for example, education, information and possession of skills which are instrumental to natural resource management. For example, do men and women have the capacity to study environmental changes that may impact negatively on their livelihoods?

Strategic Gender Interests and or Needs: Strategic gender interests and needs are those women identify because of their subordinate position to men in their society. They relate to issues of power and control and the gender division of labour. Strategic interests and needs may include changes in the gender division of labour, that is, women to take on work not traditionally seen as women’s work, men take more responsibility for child care and domestic work, legal rights, an end to domestic violence, equal wages, and women’s control over their own bodies. They are not as easily identified by women themselves as their practical interests and needs; therefore, they may need specific opportunities to do so.

Tool 3: Disaggregating Control of Resources and Decision-Making Within a Household

This tool is used to find out who has control over resources within the household, who makes decisions about the use of these resources, and how they are made. It links the allocation of resources within the household with the bargaining processes. For example, in many communities men control the productive resources such as land, the market depending on the context. For example, in Northern Nigeria, men control the market while in Lagos women control the markets. Generally, women control the local markets while men control the national, regional and global markets. Control of resources is influenced by the rules governing the decision making process in a particular community. It is, therefore, important to examine the regulations and policies and levels of control that men and women possess over particular resources. It is evident that market forces are determined by the supply and demand but the decision making process is dependent on rules imposed by the society. In that regard, women will focus on subsistence production while men will confine themselves to cash crop production.

Tool 4: Balancing of Roles

This relates to how women manage the balance between their productive, reproductive and community tasks popularly known as “the triple role”. A researcher or a practitioner should ensure that a planned intervention does not increase a woman’s workload in one role with consequence for her other roles.

Tool 5: WID/GAD Policy Matrix

The WID /GAD policy matrix provides a framework for identifying and evaluating the approaches that have been (or can) be used to address the triple role, and the practical and strategic gender needs of women in programmes and projects. Five different approaches can be identified:

i) Welfare: Earliest approach, predominant 1950-1970. Its purpose was to bring women into the development as better mothers. Women are seen as the passive beneficiaries of development. It recognises the reproductive role of women and seeks to meet Practical Gender Needs (PGNs) in that role through a top-down handout method of food aid; measures against malnutrition and family planning. It is non-challenging, and therefore still widely popular;

ii) Equity: The original WID approach, emerged in the 1976-85 during the UN Women’s Decade, in the context of the predominant “growth with equity” development paradigm. Its purpose is to gain equity for women who are seen as active participants in development. It recognises the triple role, and seeks to meet Strategic Gender Needs (SGNs) through direct state intervention giving political and economic autonomy and reducing inequality with men. It challenges women’s subordinate position. It is criticised as western feminism, is considered threatening and is unpopular with governments especially in the third world countries;

iii) Anti-Poverty: The second WID approach, a toned-down version of equity, adopted from 1970’s onwards in the context of Basic Needs approaches to development. Its purpose is to ensure that poor women increase their productivity. Women’s poverty is seen as a problem of underdevelopment, not of subordination. It recognises the productive role of women, and seeks to meet their practical and strategic needs to earn an income, particularly in small scale income generation projects. It is still very popular with NGOs;

iv) Efficiency: The third and now predominant WID approach was adopted particularly since the 1980’s debt crisis. Its purpose was to ensure that development is more efficient and effective through women’s economic contribution, with participation often equated with equity. It seeks to meet PGNs while relying on all the three roles and an elastic concept of women’s time. Women are seen principally in terms of their capacity to compensate for declining social services by extending their working day. This is considered a very popular approach;

v) Empowerment: This approach seeks to empower women through greater self- reliance. Women’s subordination is expressed not only in terms of male oppression but also in terms of colonial and neo-colonial oppression. It recognises the triple role and seeks to meet SGNs indirectly through bottom- up mobilisation of PGNs. It is potentially challenging, although its avoidance of western feminism makes it unpopular except with third world women NGOs.

Tool 6: Involving Women, Gender Aware Organizations and Planners in Planning

The aim of this tool is to ensure that practical and strategic gender needs are identified by women ensuring that “real needs” as opposed to perceived needs are incorporated into the planning process.

The framework looks at the separate activities of women and men rather than how these activities interrelate. Not everyone accepts the concept of the triple role, particularly in relation to community roles. Other forms of inequality such as race and class are not addressed. It is argued by some that a strict division between practical and strategic gender needs is unhelpful as there is often a continuum from practical to strategic. Moser does not consider the strategic gender needs of men. There are arguments for and against their inclusion. In adapting Moser’s work the Development Planning Unit (DPU), London University, has included men’s practical and strategic needs in its framework.

Selecting a Gender Analysis Frameworks for NRM

When selecting a framework, it is important to consider that the selected framework answers some key questions. The following are some.

i) To what extent does the framework incorporate an analysis of social relations which goes beyond issues of gender? Gender relations are context-specific; they vary considerably depending on local setting. Relationships between people, including economic status, race, ethnicity, or disability can greatly influence the outcome of a given analysis.

ii) How flexible are different gender frameworks? With time and technology, other factors, gender roles and relations change. Sometimes, specific events such as conflict or economic crisis cause certain aspects to change rapidly or dramatically. A good framework must be flexible and adaptive to these changes.

iii) Does the framework mainly analyze social roles or social relations or both? There are gender analysis frameworks which focus primarily on gender division of labour and distribution of resources. On the other hand, a gender analysis framework which focuses on relations sees a community mainly in terms of how members relate to each other: the kind of bargains they make, what bargaining power they have and what they get in return; when they act with self-interest, when they act altruistically, and so on. The Harvard Analytical Framework can be considered as a method of gender-roles analysis; whereas the Social Relations Approach is a method of gender-relations analysis

iv) What is the Role of Gender Framework? Does it focus on efficiency or empowerment? Gender-analysis frameworks concentrate on certain factors in women and men’s lives. The chosen focus reflects a set of values and assumptions on part of the framework’s designers. When you use a framework, these values and assumptions will ultimately influence the type of development interventions you select.

The efficiency approach to women in development is based on the understanding that it is inefficient to ignore women in planning and distribution of resources. This approach lies behind the Harvard and People Oriented Planning (POP) Frameworks. Although this approach seems very sensible, there are times when it can come into conflict with wider issues of justice or women’s empowerment. As a consequence, the efficiency approach has been heavily criticised as follows:

• This approach does not challenge existing gender relations but it tends to lead to gender-neutral or gender-specific policies or interventions;

• Since resources, not power, are seen as central, it can also further tip the balance of power in the favour of men. For example, further resources will be allocated to men if it is judged efficient, even if this is to the detriment of women;

• Similarly, if it does not make a project more efficient to involve women, then following the logic of the efficiency argument, you should not do so, and ignore issues of justice;

• This approach can be particularly problematic in countries where women are involved in production outside the house.

Other gender frameworks explicitly have the aim of empowerment. They emphasise the transformation of gender relations, through women’s self-empowerment. (Kabira and Muthoni (Eds.), 1994).

Of course, it is perfectly possible to use the gender frameworks, or parts of them, in a way to subvert their stated goals. For example, the Moser Framework could be used to design projects which address women’s practical needs only, with no attempt to support women’s self-empowerment.

Implicit in each Framework is the planner’s own view of his or her role, which can range from being top-down planner to the planner as facilitator only. One gender framework – the Social Relations Approach – explicitly requires the planners to examine their own institutions and understand how the institutions bring biases into the planning process. The gender-analysis frameworks are not intended to plan interventions which target men or boys, but it should be used to plan interventions, because they all have a potential impact on gender relations of both sexes.

There is an increasing awareness that gender identity traverses other identity issues, including race and class, to affect men’s and women’s roles in the gender division of labour. Most of the gender frameworks – except the Women’s Empowerment Framework – look at the gender roles and relations of both women and men, and so could be used for projects which target men as well. Gender analysis frameworks have been designed for different purposes. These purposes may range from designing initial research, planning, monitoring an intervention and to evaluating the achievements.

Gender frameworks have sometimes been designed for use in a particular context. For instance, if you are working in emergency situations, there are two gender frameworks specifically designed for this (the People Oriented Planning Framework and the Capacities and Vulnerabilities Framework). When deciding which framework to use for any particular situation, it is important to consider what aspects are appropriate to your work, and what purpose you are trying to achieve.

In summary, a good analysis should provide:

Gender Awareness: Understanding of Gender Relations and their implications for development policy and implementation;

• Analysis of the Division of Labour: Activities, Access and Control;

A Review of Women’s Priorities: Restraining and Driving Forces;

• Recommendations to Address Women’s Practical Needs and/or Strategic Interests.

The purpose of a gender analysis is to identify the specific dimensions of each of these issues, in a given socio-economic context. A good gender analysis will provide precise information in all or most of these categories, in such a way as to be easily incorporated into programming and other decision-making processes.

A gender analysis should provide the following broad types of information:

Gender and Policy Implications in Natural Resource Management

The challenge for governments is to structure a response to the fundamental changes taking place at global, national and local levels and to ensure that gender concerns are not lost in the flux of changing priorities. In endeavouring to meet these challenges, it is useful to consider different types of development policies.

Isolated small women-specific agricultural and rural development programmes are not usually successful in effectively reaching and assisting large numbers of rural women. The reasons for this are many; financial support allocations are limited because most resources are channelled into mainstream development programmes or women-specific agricultural projects are poorly designed and often staffed with persons less skilled in agriculture and natural resource management. These small women-specific projects can be of some limited value. However, it is important to demonstrate the feasibility of particular types of programmes targeted at women and to provide specific skills training to them to enable them participate effectively in mainstream agricultural and natural resource management programmes.

There are different dimensions of policies that can help or hinder in the advancement of gender goals. These policies are divided into three categories depending on the extent to which they recognise and address gender issues. Gender- blind policies fail to distinguish between women and men. Policies are biased in favour of existing gender relations and, therefore, are likely to exclude women. Gender-sensitive policies: recognise that women as well as men are actors in development and that they are often constrained in a different way to men. Their needs, interests and priorities may differ and at times conflict. Gender-sensitive policies can be sub-divided into two policy types:

Gender-neutral policies which use the knowledge of gender differences in a given context to target and meet the practical needs of both women and men. Gender-neutral policies do not disturb existing gender relations;

Gender-specific policies use the knowledge of gender differences in a given situation to respond to the practical gender needs of either women or men. These policies do not address the existing division of resources and responsibilities;

Gender-redistributive policies aim to transform the existing distribution of resources and responsibilities in order to create a more equal relationship between women and men. Women and men may be targeted or one group alone may be targeted by the intervention. Gender-redistributive policies focus mainly on strategic gender interests, but can plan to meet practical gender needs in a way which have transformative potential (provide a supportive environment for women’s self empowerment). This is illustrated in the diagram below.

Gender in NRM Research

This section addresses the appropriate means of gathering and generating gender related information and undertaking research in Natural Resource Management from a gender perspective. Gender Focused NRM Research Methods takes into account the situations and realities of men and women in a given context and time. The conventional research, which is predominantly qualitative, excludes sex and gender variables. They fail to disaggregate data based on sex and fail to analyze sex disaggregated data and, hence, fail to report in a sex disaggregated format. Exclusion of sex and gender are serious omissions that leads to problems of validity in the generalizations. As a result, recommended interventions may not address needs of men and women.

Methods of data collection must involve both men and women as equal participants and capture women and men’s experiences within social hierarchy. Some of the participatory methods that can be adapted to collect gender sensitive data include; Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), in-depth interviews, seasonal calendars, wealth ranking, resource mapping, observations and life histories.

When gathering information from women, one must think of the following issues:

• There may be resistance from husbands or men;

• There is need to have a woman as interviewers;

• It is critical that the venue and time will be friendly to women;

• Women may be easily distracted especially by children or their multiple roles;

• Strong women may dominate the interview;

• Women are more easily intimidated and they may not offer information freely;

• Illiterates women may understand better a diagrammatic explanation through illustrations to respond more effectively; this requires patience and skill;

• Key informants in a community are usually men and it requires deliberate effort on the part of the researcher to ensure that women are included as key informants.

Gender focused research methods represent human diversity. This is critical in carrying out research in natural resource management. Strategically planned and executed research that takes into account women and gender issues will result in thorough participatory and relevant results. Women are essential contributors to NRM. They impact on them differently with men. Gender sensitive research that takes this into account can in turn lead to a more effective NRM, which can in turn lead to a more sustainable development process, policies and programmes. An array of gender analysis tools are available (Table 5.3). Most participatory rural appraisal tools can be engendered for use in NRM research.

Table 5.3: An Overview of Participatory Tools for Gender Analysis


Specific Tool

General tool

Issues of NRM related labour, tasks and responsibilities

■ daily activity profile

■ seasonal calendar

Review of secondary data\Direct observation Semi-structured Interviews individual or key informant interviews household interviews (focus) group interviews

Decision-making power

■ decision-making matrix

■ household budget

Access to and control over natural resources

■ household budget

■ transect walk

■ household resource flow diagram, benefits chart, mobility map,

External factors

■ organizational linkages diagram (Venn diagram)

■ trend line

■ critical incident analysis,

Constraints, problems and opportunities

■ problem drawing

■ ranking and scoring matrices

■ problem tree – objective tree,


The sustainable management of natural resources including forests, water, land and biodiversity, requires the involvement of multiple social actors or stakeholders especially the local resources users–both men and women). All NRM initiatives in Africa require consideration of both the ecological and sociological aspects of natural resource (management) dynamics.

Chapter 5 has clarified that a sound understanding of social differences and social inequality is key to finding answers to the questions outlined in the previous chapters. This is because gender relations, like all social relations, are multi-stranded: they embody ideas, values and identities; they allocate labour between different tasks, activities and domains; they determine the distribution of resources; and they assign authority, agency and decision-making power.

Women in particular, have unequal access to information and resources, and are under-represented in decision-making. In any NRM undertaking, it is important to address the questions: Who participates in development (research) interventions, projects, programmes, and policies? How exactly? Who benefits from them? Who remains excluded or isolated? These are becoming crucial questions to be considered and integrated into intervention strategies if the aim is to support the more equitable – and sustainable – use of natural resources and the derived benefits.

Gender is more than the biological differences between men and women as it includes the ways in which those differences, whether real or perceived, have been valued, used and relied upon to classify women and men and to assign roles and expectations to them. Gender analysis, the process of assessing the differential impact of proposed and/or existing NRM initiatives on men and women of different characteristics, makes it possible for natural resources to be managed with an appreciation of gender differences. By carrying out gender analysis, we enhance our understanding of social processes and for responding with informed and equitable options.

Over the years, many perspectives of gender have emerged. As a response to the concerns of feminism in many other approaches such as Women In Development (WID) and eco-feminism, the Gender and Development approach (GAD) emerged as an approach that allows space to comprehensively consider other kinds of gender relations that may be significant in people’s lives beyond conjugal partnerships, for example, seniority, status, co-sanguinity. In GAD, gender is seen as structuring people’s interactions with and responses to environmental change or shaping their roles in Natural Resource Management. There are specific gender considerations, in particular, natural resources. The chapter has elucidated the gender perspectives with regard to land, forests, climate change, fisheries and water resources. The management of community based organizations and NRM projects are also gender dependant and a clear integration of gender is key to success.

Chapter 5 shows that gender mainstreaming is the systematic inclusion of gender concerns in all aspects of the organizations life such as programmes, policies, budgets, skills, financial and human resource systems. This can be achieved more effectively through an organization or in an NRM project and not through isolated individual efforts. Important to this process is gender analysis. Gender analysis aims to reveal the connections between gender relations and the development problem to be solved. Gender Analysis Frameworks refers to methods of research and planning for assessing and promoting gender issues in institutions. The Frameworks were developed to address different aspects of gender equality and hence are used for different policy priorities. They are designed to explore division of labour between men and women in agriculture and in more urban settings (Harvard and Moser respectively), gender mainstreaming in institutions (Levy), gender differentials in the impact of projects at community level (GAM), assessment of the contributions of interventions in all sectors to the empowerment of women (Longwe) among others. The Frameworks are used to integrate gender considerations in NRM interventions.

When selecting a Framework, it is important to consider that a selected framework answers some key questions:

i) To what extent does the Framework incorporate an analysis of social relations which goes beyond issues of gender?

ii) How flexible are different gender Frameworks?;

iii) Does the Framework mainly analyze social roles or social relations or both?; and

iv) What is the role of the gender Framework? Does it focus on efficiency or empowerment?

The chapter has also demonstrated how impacts of global changes like climate change poses differential implications to vulnerabilities and opportunities for various gender groups. Women and men are differentially impacted by climate changes due to the current power relations and their differentiated roles in these communities. Women have access to but not control over natural resources and other property rights. Additionally, women do most of the reproductive and part of the productive work, while men are only responsible for productive work. The thread that runs through the whole of this chapter is that if our society achieves sustainable management of Africa’s natural resources for development, gender must be mainstreamed in NRM in an effort to achieve the goal of gender equity and sustainable NRM.

Learning Activities

Revision Questions

1. Discuss the key factors that determine the differential impact of natural resource management impacts on men and women.

2. Name and explain the tools for enhancing the gender responsive capacities of individual governments, civil societies and NGOs for effective natural resources management.

3. How does sex disaggregated data to help in developing effective gender responsive policies and actions.

4. Is it important to involve both women and men in decision -and policy -making process in order that the needs and concerns of both sexes are represented equitably.

5. Define the terms gender, gender roles and gender relationships as used in NRM. What is the main aim of gender analysis in NRM?

6. Describe the historical basis for the developments of Women In Development (WID), Women and Development (WAD, Gender in Development (GID), and Gender and Development (GAD).

7. Differentiate between gender equity and gender equality giving examples from specific NRM initiatives.

8. Explain how you would provide policies makers with gender sensitive guidelines/recommendations for sustainable management of the following natural resources or issues:

i) Land

ii) Forests

iii) Fisheries

iv) Climate change adaptation

9. Compare and contrast the main frameworks for gender analysis useful in NRM.

Further Reading

Africa Leadership Forum (2002). Preliminary Report of the Regional Conference on African Women and NEPAD, 3-5 February 2002. Ota (Nigeria) and Paris: ALF and UNESCO,

Centre for Democracy and Governance, Technical Publication Series, Decentralization and Democratic Local Governance Programming Handbook (2000). http://www.usaid. gov/our_work/democracy_and_governance/publications/pdfs/pnach300.pdf

Centre for Development and Environment, Tackling Gender Issues in Sustainable Land Management (2002).

Commission on Sustainable Development, 16th Session, Discussion Paper submitted by Major Groups: Contribution by Women (2008).

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), The Convention on Biological Diversity: Ensuring Gender Sensitive Implementation (2002).

GEO Year Book 2004/5, Feature Focus Gender, Poverty and Environment.

Hemmati M. and Gardiner R., Heinrich Boll (2002). Foundation, Gender and Sustainable Development.

Longwe, Sara (1991). Gender Awareness, The Missing Element in the Third World Developmen Project, in Tina Wallace and Candida March (Eds), Changing Perceptions: Writings on Gender and Developmen. Oxford: Oxfam,

Longwe, Sara (1991). The Evaporation of Policies for Women’s Advancement in Noeleen Heyzer et al., (Eds), A Commitment to the Worlds Women, UNIFEM, New York.

Longwe, Sara, (1997). Education for Women’s Empowerment or Schooling for Women’s Subordination? In Carolyn Medel-Anonuevu (Ed), Negotiation and Creating Spaces of Power, UNESCO Institute for Education, Hamburg.

MacLean M. (2003). Developing a Research Agenda on the Gender Dimensions of Decentralization: Background Paper for the IDRC 2003 Gender Unit Research Competition.

OECD (2008). Gender and Sustainable Development: Maximizing the Economic, Social and Environmental Role of Women,.

The Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) (2008). Gender, Climate Change and Human Security, Lessons from Bangladesh, Ghana and Senegal.

The World Bank, Gender and Development Briefing Notes, Water, Sanitation and Gender, (2007).

Torheim S., Tengberg A., Gender and Sustainable Land Management.

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2003) Mainstreaming Gender in Water Management,.

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2004). Gender and Energy for Sustainable Development: A Toolkit and Resource Guide,

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2007). Gender Mainstreaming in Practice, 3rd edition.

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2007). Mother Earth, Women and Sustainable Land Management.

United Nations (2006). Gender, Water and Sanitation: Case Studies on Best Practices.


Agarwal, B. (1992). ‘The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India’; Feminist Studies 18,1: 119-158

Agarwal, B. (2001). Participatory Exclusions, Community Forestry, and Gender: An Analysis for South Asia and a Conceptual Framework. World Development 29, 10: 1623–48.

Agarwal, B. (2003). ‘Gender and Land Rights Revisited: Exploring New Prospects via the State, Family and Market’, Journal of Agrarian Change 3,1/2: 184-224

Bennett, E. (2005). Gender, Fisheries and Development. Marine Policy 29 (2005) 451–459

Bernadette P., ELmhirst R. (2006). Gender and Natural Resource Management: Livelihoods, Mobility and Interventions. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, London: Routledge.

Butler, J. (2004). ‘Gender as performance: An Interview With Judith Butler’, Radical Philosophy 67: 23-39.

Candida, M., Ines, S. and Maitrayee, M. (2000). A Guide to Gender-Analysis Frameworks, London: An Oxfam Publication.

Cleaver, F. (2003). ‘Reinventing Institutions: Bricolage and the Social Embeddedness of Natural Resource Management’. In T. A. Benjaminsen and C. Lund (eds.) Securing Land Rights in Africa, London: Frank Cass, pp.11-30.

Colfer, C. J. P. (ed.) (2005). The Equitable Forest: Diversity, Community and Resource Management, Washington DC: Resources for the Future.

Connelly, P., T. Murray Li, M. MacDonald and J.L. Parpart (2000). Feminism and Development: Theoretical Perspectives. In J.L. Parpart, M.P. Connelly and V.E. Barriteau, eds, Theoretical Perspectives on Gender and Development, pp. 51–159. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.

Cornwall, A. (2000). Making a Difference? Gender and Participatory Development. IDS Discussion Paper 378: Sussex: .Institute of Development Studies.

Farnworth, C. R. and J. Jiggins (2003). Participatory Plant Breeding and Gender Analysis. PPB monograph no. 4, Cali.: Participatory Research/Gender Analysis Programme.

Howard, P., ed. (2003). Women and Plants: Gender Relations in Biodiversity Management and Conservation. London: Zed Books.

Kabeer, N. (1997). Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought. London and New York: Verso.

Kabeer, N. (2005) “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Critical Analysis of the Third Millennium Development Goal’. Gender and Development 13, 1: 13-24

Kabeer, N. (2003). Gender Mainstreaming in Poverty Eradication and the Millenium Development Goals: A Handbook for Policy-Makers and Other Stakeholders. London: Commonwealth Secretariat; Ottawa: International Development Research Centre; Hull: Canadian International Development Agency.

Kameri-Mbote, P. (ed.) (1992). African Women as Environment Managers, Nairobi: African Center for Technology Studies.

Leach, M., Joekes, S. and Green, C. (1995). Editorial: Gender Relations and Environmental Change. IDS Bulletin, 26,1: 1–8.

Longwe, S. (1991). Gender Awareness, The Missing Element in the Third World Developmen Project, in Tina Wallace and Candida March (eds), Changing Perceptions: Writings on Gender and Development,. Oxford: Oxfam.

Molyneux, M. (1985). ‘Mobilization without Emancipation? Women’s Interests, the State and Evolution in Nicaragua’, Feminist Studies 11,2 227-254.

Moser, C. (1993). Gender Planning and Development: Theory, Practice and Training, London: Routledge.

Muia, D. M. and Otiende, J. E. (eds.) (2004). Introduction to Development Studies for Africa, Nairobi: Acacia Publishers.

Ochola, W. O., Mitoko, G., Simbowo, H. (2008). Gender, livestock and livelihoods: Issues and concerns from communities living in Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya: A Report of Gender Screening Study. ASAL Based Livestock and Rural Livelihoods Support Programme. Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries development/African Development Bank (AfDB). Nairobi.

Röling, N. (2002). Beyond the Aggregation of Individual Preferences: Moving from Multiple to Distributed Cognition in Resource Dilemmas. In C. Leeuwis and R. Pyburn, (eds,) Wheel-barrows Full of Frogs: Social Learning in Rural Resource Management, pp. 25–47. Assen, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Van Gorcum.

Shiva, V. (1989). Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Survival in India, London: Zed Books

Sontheimer, S. (ed.) (1991). Women and the Environment: A Reader, London: Earthscan Publications.

Tedla, S. and Flintan. F. (eds.) (2007). Gender and Social Issues in Natural Resource Management Research for Development, Addis Abba: Organization for Social Science Research in East and Southern Africa (OSSREA).

Todaro, M. and Smith, S. (2003). Development Economics, 8th ed., London- New York: The Addison Wesley Series.

Vernooy, R. and Fajber, L. (2004). Making Gender and Social Analysis Work for Natural Resource Management Research: An Umbrella Programme for Building Researcher Capacity. In Gender Mainstreaming in Action: Successful Innovations from Asia and the Pacific, pp. 208–23. Washington: InterAction’s Commission on the Advancement of Women and Silang; Cavite: International Institute of Rural Reconstruction.

Wanjiku, M. K. and Wanjira, M. (eds.) (1994). The Road to Empowerment, Nairobi: African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET).

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Natural Resource Management in the Context of Climate Change

P.Z. Yanda, T. Yatich, Washington O. Ochola and N. Ngece


In this chapter, an attempt has been made to synthesize the state of knowledge on climate change as well as mitigation and adaptation using Natural Resource Management (NRM) as an entry point. Climate change governance and re-orientation of national level institutions to effectively bridge local and global level mechanisms are also discussed. The existing knowledge gaps have been expressed in learning activities. This is aimed at shaping the direction of bridging scales and expanding the frontiers of climate change knowledge. Case studies presented are linked to how the frontiers of knowledge have been expanded as well as the role of communities in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The chapter exposes the reader to the science of climate change in relation to Natural Resources Management with the aim of understanding, acquiring and applying tools, knowledge, approaches, methodologies and skills on the phenomenon of climate change and associated impacts on natural resource management. Specifically, the Chapter enables the reader to:

i) Apply tools, approaches and methodologies on climate change phenomena and natural resource management;

ii) Acquire expertise and design mitigation and adaptation programmes and projects to climate change;

iii) Advocate and create awareness on climate change at different levels through provision of information, tools and approaches; and

iv) Work with communities through organizing, information provision and capacity building on climate change and NRM to promote collective learning and action.

The learning outcomes of this chapter include inter alia:

• Use of the synthesis provided to understand, apply and design mitigation and adaptation measures;

• Use of the tools, approaches and methodologies to contribute and further fill the knowledge gaps on climate change impacts, vulnerability, mitigation and adaptation;

• Adoption of an inter-disciplinary approach in addressing climate change and variability impacts; and

• Creation of awareness and working with governments and other stakeholders to provide relevant tools, and methodologies for mainstreaming climate change into sectoral and development planning.

Climate Change

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. It has elicited action at local, national and global scales. Climate change is predicted to exacerbate the intensity and magnitude of extreme weather events like flooding, cyclones and droughts. These will negatively affect natural and social systems. Human livelihoods, especially those of nature-based economies, will be adversely affected. Changing precipitation and temperature patterns and trends will affect ecosystems’ productivity and thus the availability and distribution of goods and services. Understanding, mitigating and adapting to climate change is urgent if ecosystems are to continue providing critical goods and services. This includes focusing on the improvement of the resilience and adaptive capacity of natural and human systems. An important question is, “how can this be realized?” The answer lies in the way NRM is undertaken now and in future.

Communities dependent on natural resources have had less to do with climate change and yet that is where the action lies. There have been attempts to localize global level initiatives and decisions. This lies in how Natural Resource Management is viewed and undertaken in the light of climate change responses at global, regional and national levels. It is expected that with climate change, Natural Resource Management at different levels will dynamically facilitate the design and implementation of mitigation and adaptation strategies that will enhance resilience and adaptive capacities of natural and social systems. In order to bridge global, regional, national and local level divides, climate change science is critical. Appropriate tools, approaches and methodologies are, therefore, critical in advocating for mitigation and adaptation strategies. It has been argued that the physical science basis of climate change is fairly well settled. Greenhouse gases are major contributors of climate change.

Controversies persist on precipitation and temperature patterns and trends and quantification of their impacts on natural resources. However, questions abound, for example, on how plausible the glacial melting rates in the Himalayas are, the connection between severe weather storms and climate change. As regards mitigation of climate change, an array of measures, including financing mechanisms, have been piloted and scaled up in different landscapes. Questions on environmental justice and adequacy of payments to sustain smallholders’ interests have been raised. Some of the mitigation mechanisms, Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) are seen as excuses not to reduce emissions from industry. These controversies are likely to be addressed as the frontiers of knowledge get expanded. Universities, especially graduate students, have a role to play in addressing these knowledge gaps and controversies.

Definitions and Concepts

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007) defines climate change as changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties that persists for an extended period, typically, decades or longer. It is a statistically significant decadal variation in either the mean state of the climate or in its variability. Climate variability refers to the variations in the mean state and other statistics (such as standard deviations, the occurrence of extremes, etc) of the climate on all temporal and spatial scales beyond that of individual weather events. Variability may be due to natural internal processes within the climate system (internal variability), or to variations in natural or anthropogenic external forces (external variability). Another definition of climatic variability is by Zhou et al., (2004) who say it refers to Climate variability short-term fluctuations around the mean climate state within an averaging period, typically, 30 years (Hare, 1985). In this Chapter, climate variability is treated as an integral and inherent aspect of climate change. This is because climate change is attributed to natural variability or to human activities and therefore, the need to discuss them together.

Climate change is a gradual process that builds over time while climatic variability are short-term fluctuations that lead to extreme events like droughts and floods. It is predicted that with climate change, there will be increased frequency, intensity and magnitude of extreme events like flooding and droughts. Climate change impact is defined as consequences of climate change on natural and human systems. Depending on the consideration of adaptation, one can distinguish between potential and residual impacts. Potential and residual impacts differently impact on natural and human systems.

There are varying definitions of vulnerability. Fussel and Klein (2006), define it as the degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude, and rate of climate variation to which a system is exposed, its sensitivity, and its adaptive capacity. Vulnerability, according to the IPCC definition, is an integrated measure of the expected magnitude of adverse effects to a system caused by a given level of certain external stressors (IPCC, 2007). Here, vulnerability includes an external dimension represented by the ‘exposure’ of a system to climate variations, as well as an internal dimension, which comprises its ‘sensitivity’ and its ‘adaptive capacity’ to these stressors. Exposure refers to the nature and degree to which a system is exposed to significant climatic variations.

It has been argued that climate change can be managed through mitigation and adaptation. In the context of climate change mitigation Chandler et al., (2002) sees it referring to human interventions to reduce the “sources” of greenhouse gases or enhance the “sinks” to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This in no way ignores what communities have done over the years to adapt to extreme climatic events. Local communities have used a wide range of strategies to deal with climatic hazards such as drought. Coping strategies are short-term responses that are utilised to face a sudden, unanticipated climatic risk while adaptation is a more long-term process that often entails some socio-economic and institutional changes to sustain livelihood security (Orindi and Eriksen, 2005). Adaptation is adjustments in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderate, harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. Various types of adaptation can be distinguished as anticipatory and reactive adaptation, private and public adaptation, and autonomous and planned adaptation. Coping strategies, mitigation and adaptation are aimed at enhancing the resilience and the adaptive capacities of natural and social systems. Adaptive capacity refers to the ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences.

In this Chapter, these concepts are used in line with the definitions presented above, but this does not in any way ignore different perspectives or dimensions that have been advanced by different stakeholders depending on contexts.

Historical Account of Climate Change

There is no doubt to the proposition that the root of climate change is global warming caused by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other greenhouse gases (Collier et al., 2008). IPCC (2007) concluded that it is more than 90% certain that the current global warming is the result of human activities, particularly related to industrial, consumption and land-use practices. Climate change is attributed to 30 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry, and other changes in land uses. Deforestation is seen as a major source of emissions. The world has warmed by an average of 0.76°C since pre-industrial times and the global average temperature is projected to increase further by 1.8°C to 4°C if no action is taken. For example, in the Arctic, average temperatures have increased at almost twice the global average rate in the past 100 years. Sea ice extent has shrunk and temperatures at the top of the permafrost layer have generally increased (IISD, 2008; IPCC, 2007d: 7–9).

Over the past century, the Earth’s average surface temperature has increased by almost 0.74°C. The consequences of this alteration are starting to become more visible as climatic conditions and ecosystems begin to change. This warming trend is projected to continue, rising another 1.1°C to 6.4°C over the next 100 years (IPCC, 2007a). At present emission rates, a 2°C rise in temperature is highly probable and possibly inevitable (Stern, 2006). At this level of global average temperature increase, up to 30% of all plant and animal species will likely be at increasing risk of extinction; most corals will likely be bleached; cereal productivity in low latitudes likely to decrease and millions more people will likely experience coastal flooding (IPCC, 2007b; IISD, 2008). Natural variability of the climate will be altered leading to changing rainfall and temperature patterns and trends. These are likely to have adverse impacts on natural and human systems. Figure 6.1 illustrates the trends in global mean surface temperature based on dataset and method by Hansen et al.,(2006) while Figure 6.2 shows the mean surface temperature changes from the year 2000 to 2009 relative to the average temperatures from the year 1951 to 1980.


Figure 6.1: Global Mean Surface Temperature Difference Relative to the 1961–1990 Average

Source: Hansen et al., (2006)


Figure 6.2: Mean Surface Temperature Change for the Period 2000 to 2009 Relative to the Average Temperatures From 1951 to 1980

Source: Hepburn and Stern (2008).

Ultimately, the increasing temperature, greenhouse gas accumulation in the global atmosphere and increasing regional concentrations of aerosol particulates are now understood to have detectable effects on the global climate system (Santer et al., 1996). While these effects are evident at regional scales, they are differentiated by the technological and economic power of respective regions (Giorgi & Francisco 2000; Hulme, 2001; Mitchell & Hulme, 1999). The changing climate at global scale has been considered to be more sensitive due to numerous human activities, which are directly linked to climate. In this respect, adapting to climate variability and the effects of climate change has always been a challenge for humankind. In particular, extreme weather events have always significantly affected human societies through famines, migrations, epidemics, and in some instances, the complete disappearance of communities or civilizations (Fluet et al., 2009; Collier et al., 2008).

The climate landscape has fundamentally changed since the Kyoto Protocol3 in 1997. Human-induced climate change is increasingly being observed (IPCC, 2007a) and there is greater confidence in long-term climate projections suggesting that significant, and largely adverse change will take place within this century (IPCC, 2007b). In addition, the growing number of extreme weather events throughout the world in recent years has increased sensitivity to the potentially dramatic social and economic impacts of climate change for all countries. In this respect, economic analyses have raised awareness of the substantive additional technological and financing need to prepare for these impacts (IISD, 2008). In addition, these climate change trends call for ambitious local and global mitigation and adaptation efforts to lessen and improve the local capacity of communities and ecosystems in the face of potential and dramatic changes in the global climate system and their consequent impacts on societies, economies, livelihoods and ecosystems (IISD, 2008).

3 The Kyoto Protocol (1997) is an agreement to a 5.2 % reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by about 2010 (relative to 1990), and constant emissions thereafter. These targets relate to the annex 1 countries. These are 38 highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy.

Given the potential impacts of climate change and inherent natural variability, progress has been made to provide the evidence base for decision-making. There is a growing consensus on the understanding of the natural and human processes that govern climate change, and their associated socio-economic impacts. As a result, there has been increasing attention on global and regional efforts to cope and curb the increasing and projected impacts from changes (IPCC, 2007; Bosetti et al., 2009). Climate change challenge has become a public policy priority, and is now ranked high in the political agenda of many countries. Climate change is no longer treated as an environmental issue alone; but rather a national development agenda with links across sectors (Bosetti, et. al., 2009). Consequently, there have been two types of response to these changes. First, efforts to reduce the extent to which our climate is altered. This is known as climate change mitigation. The second is to learn to live with the inevitable changes. This is known as adaptation to climate change impacts (Reid, 2004).

The significance of climate change vulnerability has aggravated normal planning motives in the 21st century (Orindi and Murray, 2005). While impacts are projected to increase and reduce coping capacities of poor countries, there is continuous industrialisation leading to the release of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere, with subsequent changes in the Earth’s temperature and weather systems (Collier et al., 2008; Orindi and Murray, 2005). Already, global warming has led to changes in temperature, distribution of rainfall, frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and sea-level rises. Eventually, many human systems are affected by these changes, particularly agriculture, water resources, industry and human health (Murray, 2005). In addition, significant disruption of existing ecosystems is expected to take place as global climate change proceeds (Murray, 2005).

Climate change is attributed to the greenhouse gas effect. According to Treut et al., (2007), roughly one-third of the solar energy that reaches the top of Earth’s atmosphere is reflected directly back to space. The remaining two-thirds are absorbed by the surface and, to a lesser extent, by the atmosphere. To balance the absorbed incoming energy, the Earth must, on average, radiate the same amount of energy back to space. Because the Earth is much colder than the Sun, it radiates at much longer wavelengths, primarily in the infrared part of the spectrum (see Figure 6.3). Much of this thermal radiation emitted by the land and ocean is absorbed by the atmosphere, including clouds, and re-radiated back to the Earth. This is called the greenhouse effect.

Without the natural greenhouse effect, the average temperature at Earth’s surface would be below the freezing point of water. Thus, Earth’s natural greenhouse effect makes life, as we know it, possible. However, human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have greatly intensified the natural greenhouse effect, causing global warming. Adding more of a greenhouse gas, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), to the atmosphere, intensifies the greenhouse effect, thus warming Earth’s climate.

The amount of warming depends on various feedback mechanisms. For example, as the atmosphere warms due to rising levels of greenhouse gases, its concentration of water vapour increases, further intensifying the greenhouse effect. This in turn causes more warming, which causes an additional increase in water vapour, in a self-reinforcing cycle. This water vapour feedback may be strong enough to approximately double the increase in the greenhouse effect due to the added CO2 alone.


Figure 6.3: An Idealized Model of the Natural Greenhouse Effect

Source: Adapted from Treut et al., (2007) and IPCC (2007)

Additional important feedback mechanisms involve clouds. Clouds are effective at absorbing infrared radiation and therefore exert a large greenhouse effect, thus warming the Earth. Clouds are also effective at reflecting away incoming solar radiation, thus cooling the Earth. A change in almost any aspect of clouds, such as type, location, water content, cloud altitude, particle size and shape, or lifetimes, affects the degree to which clouds warm or cools the Earth. Some changes amplify warming while others diminish it. Much research is in progress to better understand how clouds change in response to climate warming, and how these changes affect climate through various feedback mechanisms (Treut et al., 2007).

The Greenhouse Gas (GHS) effect causes global warming as well as affects the state of the ozone layer which shields natural and social systems from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. If the sun’s ultraviolet rays are not shielded, there would be potential consequences like skin cancer, cataracts, and damage to the immune system. Thinning of the ozone layer is also predicted to alter the DNA of plants and animals. The greenhouse effect is responsible not only for heating the lower atmosphere, but also for cooling the upper atmosphere. The cooling poses problems for ozone molecules, which are most unstable at low temperatures. Shindell et al.,(1998) argues that the build-up of greenhouse gases could chill the high atmosphere near the poles by as much as 8 to 10 degrees centigrade and that the maximum ozone loss would occur between the years 2010 and 2019. The greenhouse effect has different impacts on the different layers of the atmosphere leading to ozone depletion by influencing the interactions between ozone and Human-Created Greenhouse Gases (GHGS).

Future Projections on Climate Change

According to regional projections for Africa, warming rate and magnitude are predicted to be larger than the global average (IPCC, 2007). Climatic parameters, specifically rainfall and temperature, are predicted to vary across different ecological zones in all seasons, with drier subtropical regions warming more than the moister tropics. Annual rainfall is likely to decrease in much of Mediterranean Africa and northern Sahara, with the likelihood of a decrease in rainfall increasing as the Mediterranean coast is approached. Rainfall in southern Africa is likely to decrease in much of the winter rainfall region and on western margins. In East Africa, there is likely to be an increase in annual mean rainfall (IPCC, 2007). Such predicted changes will have varying impacts on natural and social systems. Figure 6.4 depicts predicted global warming levels with the assumption of current economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions trajectories.

Climate variations are attributed to a small number of climate patterns, such as El Nino–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), Arctic Oscillation (AO), Northern Annular Mode (NAM), Southern Annular Mode (SAM), Pacific-North American Pattern (PNA) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Changes in the fluctuations of these climate patterns will likely have effects on the distribution and the extent of monsoonal rains, a decrease of subtropical precipitation due to the poleward movement of the transition zone and possibly more and stronger tropical storms. The extent to which these patterns can be described accurately with today’s generation of climate models is limited and remains an area of intense research, but several 20th Century changes can be viewed as alterations of these distinct climate patterns (IPCC, 2007). Ocean temperatures and teleconnections, for instance, cause temperature anomalies. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), has been observed to influence South Asian monsoon as well as weather in East Africa and the western part of Indonesia. In the ‘IOD+’ mode, there are abnormally warm sea surface temperatures in the western Indian Ocean, with long dry seasons in Indonesia and heavy rainfall over East Africa. When the ENSO and IOD patterns coincide, which is not always the case, extreme droughts and flooding may be the result, as in the 1997/8 period. There is reason to believe that global warming effects on the western Indian Ocean have increased IOD variability and that this may have replaced the ENSO as the major driver of climate patterns over the Indian Ocean region.


Figure 6.4: The Geographic Distribution of Surface Warming During the 21st Century Calculated by the Hadcm3 Climate Model if a Business as Usual Scenario is Assumed for Economic Growth and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In this Figure, The Globally Averaged Warming Corresponds to 3.0 °C (5.4 °F).

Source: Hansen et al., (2006)

Box 6.1: The El Niño Phenomenon


Figure 6.5: Schematic Representation of the Effect on Extreme Temperatures When the Mean Temperature Increases, for a Normal Temperature Distribution.

Source: IPCC, 2007.

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as droughts or floods is important in making decisions on natural resource management. Extreme weather events are responsible for the majority of direct climate impacts and can have disastrous effects on human health and wellbeing and on the economy. No individual extreme event can be directly attributed to climate change because there is limited knowledge (records generally date back no more than 150 years) about how extreme weather events have been in the past. In some cases, it is possible to assign the probability with which an event has been affected by climate change. Figure 6.5 illustrates how a fairly small shift could affect weather events at the upper and lower end of the Probability Distribution Function (PDF).

The recurrence of extreme weather conditions have been linked to various ocean temperature gradients and circulation patterns. The search for periodicities in extreme weather events is still poorly linked to underlying biophysical understanding. The failure to understand climatic variability of rainfall and temperature at local scales affects planning, management and preparedness. Therefore, empirical tools to pick signals and explain rainfall variability relative to global phenomena are critical. One such approach is the ‘wavelet analysis’ that has been used to show links between climatic variability to IOD and ENSO, among other factors (Jevrejeva et al., 2003; Grinsted et al., 2004). Following the approach of Torrence and Compo (1998), seasonal time series of rainfall data for the Nyando and Yala River Basins were subjected to wavelet analysis to identify repetitive cycles of high rainfall, temperature or malaria incidences. Using the Continuous Wavelet Transform (CWT), evidence emerged for repetitive cycles at quasi biannual scale, the ENSO time series and the solar cycle.

These repetitive cycles can be correlated with rainfall anomalies to show their relationship thereby establishing rainfall behaviour. Questions, however, abound on the level of different global scale phenomena influence on rainfall behaviour, links to climate change as well as impacts on the constituents of human well-being (Roy and Duraiappah, 2003).

Changing rainfall patterns will devastate the health of ecosystems, associated services and human well-being. The availability and distribution or overlaps of different goods and services provided by different ecosystems will also be affected either positively or negatively. Increased rainfall will lead to increased productivity of both crops and pasture in arid and semi-arid environments. This will not be without impacts on human settlements, increased disease (e.g. malaria, cholera, diarrhoea etc) prevalence, and disruption of transport and communication infrastructure. East African highlands, which are seen as safe havens, are slowly becoming malaria infected with climate change and variability. The hypothesis that the re-emergence of highland malaria in East African highlands is attributable to climate change and variability is still controversial despite emerging credible evidence. Nevertheless, re-emergence of highland malaria still remains a challenge irrespective of whether it is attributed to either climatic change, variability or land use and land cover changes.

The cause of climate change is Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), particularly Carbon Dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and Hydro-Fluorocarbons (HFCs), through consumption and production that have been observed to accelerate these environmental changes (Hepburn and Stern, 2008). Although Africa’s GHG emissions are negligible compared to the rest of the world (Figure 6.6), it is worst hit by the impacts of climate change due to the continent’s great reliance on natural resources. These flows of emissions accumulate into stocks of GHGs in the atmosphere. However, the rate of accumulation depends upon the Earth’s ‘carbon cycle’, whereby carbon dioxide is reabsorbed into the oceans and land. Over time, the accumulated GHGs trap heat and result in global warming. As the planet warms, the climate changes, which affect human and natural systems through rising sea-levels and increased frequency and intensity of storms, floods, and droughts (Hepburn and Stern, 2008). Climate change represents a new threat and challenge to many households and social groups with limited capacity to adapt. Furthermore, household adaptive capacities are weakened by other non-climate factors (e.g. high levels of poverty, diseases, poor governance, conflicts) (Eriksen et al., 2009) thus worsening the existing situation.


Figure 6.6: Total Green House Gas Emissions by Country in 2000 Including From Land Use Change.

Source: Hepburn and Stern (2008).

Strategic changes at the management level of natural resources will see the mainstreaming of climate change into policy development and national level planning and development. With variations in the availability, distribution and or overlaps of ecosystem goods and services, resulting tradeoffs will need to be managed with different management approaches adopted for each landscape exhibiting different characteristics. Multi-functional landscapes can be sustained through supporting multi-functionality by adopting different management approaches.

Climate Change – Ecosystem Linkages

Natural resources are inextricably linked to climate changes. This is based on the grounds that climate change affects natural resources such as land and biodiversity; and changes to natural ecosystems affect climate parameters (Mansourian et al., 2009; Reid et al., 2004; Reid, 2004). For instance, land use changes that lead to biodiversity losses can cause increased greenhouse gas emissions. Since forests are a major store of carbon, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and when forests are cut down or burnt. For instance, continuing deforestation, mainly in tropical regions, is currently thought to be responsible for annual emissions of 1.1 to 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon per year, or approximately one-fifth of human Carbon dioxide emissions (Reid, 2004). Understanding lateral flows and sink areas at landscape level is important in any spatial planning that is aimed at adapting and mitigating to climate change. Spatial planning provides a systematic approach to developing appropriate watershed plans and involves:

i) carefully delineating the watershed;

ii) identifying critical areas within the watershed; and

iii) calibrating and validating hydrological, climatic and socio-economic models.


Figure 6.7: Schematic Framework Representing Anthropogenic Drivers, Impacts of and Responses to Climate Change, and their Linkages.

Source: IPCC, 2007

The climate change-ecosystems linkages are reflected in Figure 6.7. The feedback mechanisms between the different systems are either clockwise or counterclockwise. The clockwise linkages show climatic changes and impacts from socio-economic information and emissions. With increased understanding of these linkages, IPCC (2007) observes that it is possible to assess the linkages also counterclockwise, i.e. to evaluate possible development pathways and global emissions constraints that would reduce the risk of future impacts that society may wish to avoid.

Sasumua Watershed

In an ongoing study in Sasumua Watershed, 100 miles North of Nairobi and providing 20 percent of Nairobi’s water demand, an integrated approach has been adopted in scoping Rewards for Ecosystem Services (RES). RES can therefore be seen as providing an integrating approach. In Sasumua watershed, the scoping adopted a modular approach encompassing catchment delineation, land use, land cover change analysis, land tenure analysis, land degradation assessments, hydrological modelling, water quality assessment, environmental auditing, socioeconomic assessment and carbon stock measurements. A modular approach brings the different elements associated with a specific problem together. The rationale for adopting this approach is to reduce sediment flow and water contamination of the Sasumua Reservoir through shift from the current land uses to more appropriate land use systems. The land uses to be adopted are expected to be an income stream for communities through linking farmers to the voluntary market.

This linkage acknowledges that effective biodiversity conservation and management can lead to higher levels of carbon sequestration and hence climate change mitigation. For example, forest management activities such as increasing rotation age, low intensity harvesting, reduced impact logging, leaving woody debris, harvesting which emulates natural disturbance regimes, avoiding fragmentation, provision of buffer zones and natural fire regimes, can simultaneously provide biodiversity and climate benefits. This is also true for certain agroforestry, revegetation, grassland management and agricultural practices such as recycling and use of organic materials.

Integrated watershed management can conserve watershed biodiversity in addition to increasing water retention and availability in times of drought; decreasing the chance of flash floods and maintaining vegetation as a carbon sink (Reid, 2004).

In Africa, rural poor communities depend on natural resource base for their daily needs. Natural resources reflect those actual and potential forms of wealth supplied by nature, such as coal, oil, water, power, arable land (Peck, 1999). Natural resources, therefore, encompass the individual elements of the natural environment that provide economic and social services to human society.

Traditionally, natural resources are considered to be limited to resources providing quantifiable economic products such as industrial minerals, energy sources, timber, and agricultural land (Raymond and Smith, 1993). However, in recent decades, there has been a growing recognition that natural resources, as ecosystems, provide a larger array of services to society than merely as a source of industrial raw materials. As these services have come to be recognized, the definition of natural resources has expanded to include ecological elements and the services derived from ecosystem processes (Peck, 1999). We can therefore say that they are benefits freely provided by nature.

Provisioning and supporting ecosystem services can rightly be classified as natural resources. Regulating and cultural ecosystem services influence, in various ways, the use, nature, and patterns of provisioning and supporting services. This provides the need for an integrated approach in examining the links between climate change and natural resource management. Climate change regulation is dependent upon health of ecosystems and their associated provisioning and supporting services. This is an outcome of the different typologies of the management of natural resources, interests, norms and values at different scales.

While acknowledging the goods and services natural resources provide for community livelihoods, there is no doubt that future climate shifts will damage such resources (Hepburn and Stern, 2008). Many of the impacts will be felt in the distant future, but it is also likely that serious impacts will be felt by many people currently alive (Hepburn and Stern, 2008). Projected effects include the rising of sea levels, dramatic changes in weather patterns, accentuation of tropical disease patterns and a wide variety of accelerated biodiversity losses (Stuart and Costa, 1998). Given such trend of impacts from the changes of climatic parameters, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that there is no doubt that the climate is changing and that there is 90% certainty that humans are the cause of climate change (IPCC, 2007). The IPCC also made it clear that even strong actions to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions will not prevent the climate from continuing to change for many decades to come. Thus, adaptation must be part of the response to climate change, as is mitigation (Lempriere, 2008).

The resource base of the rural poor is defined by multiple livelihood sources which are affected differently by climate change. As a result of this dependency, any impact that climate change has on natural systems threatens the livelihoods, food intake and health of poor people (Smith and Troni, 2004; Reid, 2004). When climate change and variability alters the distribution, availability and access to some of their livelihood systems, the rural communities tend to change their livelihood options. Consequently, these further degrade ecosystem integrity and enhance green house gas emissions.

Conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecosystem integrity may be a key objective towards improving the adaptive capacity to cope with climate change. Functionally diverse systems may be better able to adapt to climate change and climate variability than functionally impoverished systems. A larger gene pool will facilitate the emergence of genotypes that are better adapted to changed climatic conditions. As biodiversity is lost, options for change are diminished and human society becomes more vulnerable (Reid, 2004).

Climate Change Impacts and Vulnerability

Impacts of Climate Change on Natural Resources

Climate change is projected to impact broadly across ecosystems. The different ecosystems and associated ecosystem services are likely to be threatened by climate change and variability. In terms of physical and biological impacts, climate change is modifying the distribution of natural resources such as marine and freshwater species. In a warmed world, ecosystem productivity is likely to be reduced in most tropical and subtropical oceans, seas and lakes and increased in high latitudes. Increased temperatures will also affect fish physiological processes; resulting in both positive and negative effects on fisheries and aquaculture systems depending on the region and latitude (Cochrane et al., 2009).

Climate change impacts are already being detected in a variety of ecosystems, particularly in southern African ecosystems, at a faster rate than anticipated. Climate change, interacting with human drivers such as deforestation and forest fires, are a threat to Africa’s forest ecosystems. Changes in grasslands and marine ecosystems are also noticeable. It is estimated that, by the 2080s, the proportion of arid and semi-arid lands in Africa is likely to increase by 5-8%. Climate change impacts on Africa’s ecosystems will probably have a negative effect on tourism as, according to one study, between 25% and 40% of mammal species in national parks in sub-Saharan Africa will become endangered (Boko, et al., 2007).

Climate change is one of the main emerging threats facing biodiversity. There is evidence that climate change is already leading to losses of aquatic biodiversity. For example, in Lake Tanganyika, there is evidence of aquatic losses of about 20% with a 30% decrease in fish yields (O’Reilly et al., 2003). Up to a quarter of mammal species (IPCC, 2002) are at risk of global extinction because of climate change. Climate change is expected to cause species to migrate to areas with more favourable temperature and precipitation. There is a high probability that competing, sometimes invasive species, more adapted to a new climate, will move in. Such movements could leave some protected areas with a different habitat and species assemblage than they were initially designed to protect (Mansourina et al., 2009).

The effects of climate change on river ecosystems are no longer just speculation (Ormerod, 2009). Rivers and lakes have been sensitive to two indirect consequences of climate change. First, many are impaired already by other pressures with which climate interact. These include eutrophication, organic pollution, sediment release, acidification, abstraction, impoundment, urbanisation, hydropower development, flood-risk management and invasion by exotic species (Ormerod and Durance, 2009). Second, climate changes affect river and lake conditions and processes indirectly by changing the human use of river catchments, riparian zones and floodplains, possibly profoundly (Ormerod, 2009).

Water-related problems that already exist in the world are likely to worsen as a result of climate change. Intense rainfall events will increase the incidence of flooding in many areas. However, reduced runoff overall will exacerbate current water stress, reduce the quality and quantity of water available for domestic and industrial use, and limit hydropower production. Access to water in the Nile basin countries is dependent on runoff from the Ethiopian highlands and the level of Lake Victoria, both of which are sensitive to variations in rainfall. While the impact of climate change on water scarcity may be relatively minor compared to socioeconomic changes such as increased demand, land cover change and economic growth strategies, it may have international consequences and become a source of conflict (Eriksen et al., 2008).

Sea level rise represents another threat to the region through saltwater intrusion and coastal erosion, although these effects will only be felt toward the end of the 21st century. Some of these climatic changes may have devastating effects where they add to existing stresses such as water scarcity and climatic variations such as decadal drying events. In addition, uncertainty regarding the direction and magnitude of changes in precipitation, river flows and lake levels in particular represents a challenge for adaptation to climate change (Eriksen et al, 2008).

Climate change and biodiversity loss are both major environmental concerns, yet the links between them often go unrecognised. Not only does the science of climate change and biodiversity share similar characteristics, but climate change both affects, and are affected by biodiversity. Diversity confers far greater resilience on natural systems, thus reducing their vulnerability – and the vulnerability of the people that depend upon them – to climate change. Yet climate adaptation and mitigation strategies that are blind to biodiversity can undermine this natural and social resilience. Ignoring the links between biodiversity and climate risks exacerbates the problems associated with climate change and represents a missed opportunity for maximising co-benefits (Roe, 2006).

Climate change is likely to have a number of impacts on biodiversity – from ecosystem to species level. The most obvious impact is the effect that flooding, sea level rise and temperature changes will have on ecosystem boundaries, allowing some ecosystems to expand into new areas, while others diminish in size. As well as shifting ecosystem boundaries, these changes will also cause changes in natural habitat – an outcome which will have a knock-on effect on species survival. A growing body of research indicates that, as a result, climate change may lead to a sharp increase in extinction rates. In addition, literature shows that for many species, climate change poses a greater threat to their survival than the destruction of their natural habitat (Reid, 2004).

The impact that floods, sea level rise and changes in climate are likely to have on natural habitats means that some protected areas may no longer be appropriate for the species they were designed to conserve (Reid, 2004). Global warming is also causing shifts in the reproductive cycles and growing seasons of certain species. For example, higher temperatures have led to an increase in the number of eggs laid by the spruce budworm, already one of the most devastating pests in North America’s boreal forests. However, the impacts of climate change on biodiversity will vary from region to region. The most rapid changes in climate are expected in the far north and south of the planet, and in mountainous regions. These are also the regions where species often have no alternative habitats to which they can migrate in order to survive.

Other vulnerable ecosystems and species include small populations or those restricted to small areas such as coral reefs. Coral reefs have already shown devastating losses as a result of increased water temperatures (Reid, 2004; Glynn, 1993; Brown, 1997a; Wilkinson, 2000). “Bleaching” describes the loss of symbiotic algae by the coral or other host. Most of the pigments in the usually colourful corals depend on the presence of these plant cells. The living tissue of coral animals without algae is translucent, so the white calcium carbonate skeleton shows through, producing a bleached appearance. Bleaching is a general stress response that can be induced in both the field and the laboratory by high or low temperatures, intense light, changes in salinity, or by other physical or chemical stresses. Bleaching is the extreme case of natural variation in algal population density that occurs in many corals (Fitt et al., 2000 & 2001).

Three types of bleaching mechanisms are associated with high temperature and/or light: “animal stress bleaching,” “algal-stress bleaching,” and “physiological bleaching” (Fitt et al., 2001). Although all are important to understanding climate-coral interactions, two are particularly relevant to present concerns: algal-stress bleaching, an acute response to impairment of photosynthesis by high temperature coupled with high light levels; and physiological bleaching, which reflects depleted reserves, reduced tissue biomass, and less capacity to house algae as a result of the added energy demands of sustained above-normal temperatures. A rising baseline in warm-season sea-surface temperatures on coral reefs (Fitt et al., 2001; Lough, 2001) suggests that physiological bleaching is at least partly to blame in some bleaching events. Such chronic temperature stress may also underlie some less obvious causes of reef decline, such as low rates of sexual reproduction (Mendes and Woodley, 2002). Box 6.2 explains these relationships by analogy with drought in terrestrial forests.

Box 6.2: A Coral Reef – Terrestrial Forest Analogy

Increasing mean annual temperatures might initially promote greater forest productivity. As temperatures continue to rise though, evaporative demand is expected to increase while soil moisture decreases, leading to an increase in the frequency and intensity of drought. These changes are expected to impact each tree species differently. Some will be able to cope; others will not. Drought-stressed forests will be more susceptible to damage from insects and disease; climate change may lead to an increase in the frequency and intensity of insect, disease and fire events (FAO, 2009). Despite forests contribution in the enhancement of resilience capacity to both human and natural systems, forest ecosystems may not be able to adapt to the rate of temperature change or the intensity of weather events and other effects such as fires or floods (IIED4, 2009).

4 IIED International Institute for Environment and Development

Finally, land management will increasingly be affected by climate change and its many socio-economic consequences. These include global food security, fuel security, water scarcity, population displacement and management for carbon sequestration will drive agricultural change, intensification, forestry practice, water resource development and other land-use patterns over extensive areas. Not only will the direct demands on land use and management change per se in areas already under production, but also the geographical distribution of land uses will change as water scarcity increasingly limits options. In particular, arid and highly populated areas of the world that are unable to increase water supply or agricultural production will increase their demands for food exports from other regions (Ormerod, 2009).

Climate Change Vulnerability

Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change and variability, a situation aggravated by the interaction of ‘multiple stresses’, occurring at various levels, and low adaptive capacity. Africa’s major economic sectors are vulnerable to current climate sensitivity, with huge economic impacts. Climate change vulnerability is exacerbated by existing developmental challenges such as endemic poverty, complex governance and institutional dimensions; limited access to capital, including markets, infrastructure and technology; ecosystem degradation; and complex disasters and conflicts. These in turn have contributed to Africa’s weak adaptive capacity, increasing the continent’s vulnerability to projected climate change (Boko, et al., 2007).

Climate change impacts will be more pronounced in arid and semi-arid parts of the developing world. Such areas will become hotter and drier, with less predictable rainfall. These climate-induced changes will negatively affect crop yields, water availability, and range conditions. Likewise, ecosystem boundaries and species’ ranges will dramatically change, and thus, influence poor people’s livelihoods. Such communities are vulnerable partly because they live in areas prone to extreme events (e.g. flooding and droughts), and are heavily dependent on climate sensitive sectors such as fisheries and agriculture. In essence, such communities have little capacity to adapt to such shocks. This is partly attributed to countries limited financial, institutional and human capacity to anticipate and respond to the direct and indirect impacts of climate change (Walter and Simms, 2002; Huq et al., 2003; Sperling, 2003; Tyler and Fajbar, 2009).

Climate Change Mitigation

Role of Forests in Climate Change Mitigation

Forests cover 30% of the total land surface of the world (FAO5 2007). Forests in the ten most forest rich countries account for two-thirds of total forest area, while 57 countries have less than 10% of their land area in forests (ibid). However, many existing forests are experiencing impacts of climate change (FAO, 2007). In the context of climate change, mitigation refers to a human intervention to reduce the “sources” of greenhouse gases or enhance the “sinks” to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (Chandler et al., 2002). These efforts of reducing carbon emission are mainly focused on enhancing absorption channel by conserving and restoring forest resources. The carbon capture and storage service provided by forests is illustrated in Figure 6.8.

5 FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


Figure 6.8: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an Approach to Mitigation. Emissions may be Sequestered from Fossil Fuel Power Plants, or Removed During Processing in Hydrogen Production. When Used on Plants, it is Known as Bio-Energy With Carbon Capture and Storage.

Source: World Bank (2010)

Mangrove forests, for example, play a vital role in climate change mitigation, but are often undervalued in many coastal communities. In addition to mitigating coastal erosion, salt spray incursion and coral siltation, they provide protection from storm surges and provide important habitats for a wide variety of bird, crab and shellfish species. Likewise, mangroves form important habitats and nurseries for numerous pelagic and coastal fish species, many of which form a vital source of protein for island communities and coastal dwellers (ibid). In relation to climate change mitigation, forests can play a role in adaptation by helping human societies to stabilise resilience capacity in adapting to climate change impacts. It is estimated that adaptive management of forests contributes to sustaining the livelihood of over two billion people worldwide (FAO, 2007).

Although ecosystems play a significant role in regulating global climate; changes in ecosystem can affect this regulatory system. Forests, for example, are both a source and sink of carbon. Carbon dioxide is fixed through photosynthesis but released into the atmosphere if forests are felled or burned (Roe, 2006). While it is apparent that forests, and sustainably managed forests in particular, can play an important role in climate change mitigation through increased uptake and storage of carbon dioxide, several important hurdles will have to be cleared before forests can fulfil their potential. These challenges range from developing effective forest carbon sequestration rules to compliance requirements and market considerations (Siry et al., 2009). Another important issue is that of permanence. While carbon may be stored for decades in forests and wood products, eventually it will be released. Although it is possible to develop large forest projects which in due time will allow tree mortality and harvest to be offset by regeneration and growth, resulting in a steady state, non-declining carbon pool, this may not be a very efficient approach to land use management (Siry et al., 2009).

Although the Kyoto Protocol6 clearly recognizes the role that forests and forest management play in reducing Carbon dioxide emissions; it also places several restrictions on how this can be achieved. These restrictions are related to the principles of baseline, permanence, additionality and leakage. The Protocol also requires that forest carbon capture projects demonstrate additionality. A carbon emission reduction is additional only when it was developed exclusively for the purpose of climate change mitigation. Projects implemented under business as usual or required by other laws and regulations are not considered additional. Determining what are usual management practices in the real world often are quite difficult (Siry et al., 2009). Further, the Protocol assumes and requires that carbon emission reductions are permanent. This reflects that carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere forever. As has already been pointed out, forest carbon sequestration by its very nature is temporary (Siry et al., 2009). Another question is how carbon should be valued and how harvesting and wood product manufacturing should be treated. Carbon can be stored in wood products for many years, but many carbon schemes do not consider tree harvests nor do they allow credit for carbon stored in forest products. The answer to this question is critical for managed forests and the role they may assume in climate change mitigation (Siry et al., 2009). All these requirements may seem reasonable at first, but in practice, they effectively remove managed forests from climate mitigation efforts.

6 The Kyoto Protocol (1997) is an agreement to a 5.2 % reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by about 2010 (relative to 1990), and constant emissions thereafter. These targets relate to the annex 1 countries made up of 38 highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing transition to a market economy

While managed forests will continue to sequester carbon and provide certain storage benefits, their true potential to increase carbon sequestration above the current, natural (without extra management effort) levels may never be realized (Siry et al., 2009). Furthermore, assessing how much deforestation is being “avoided” can be a complex and controversial endeavour, which relates to social and economic aspects of a particular region. Often, government policies induce pressure on standing forests by specifically encouraging forest utilisation. Some countries view conservation as patrimonial and an affront against a nation’s sovereignty. As such, there has been some negative bias among potential funders against the idea of resource “lock-ups”, although several programmes have combined conservation with sustainable utilisation and other economic activities (Stuart and Costa, 1998).

Recently, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) established that over 1 billion hectares of agricultural land globally or 43% have more than 10% tree cover, and these areas are home to almost a third of the 1.8 billion people who live on agricultural land. It further states that some 0.6 billion hectares of agricultural land have more than 20% tree cover, and 160 million hectares more than 50% (ICRAF, 2009). Agroforestry carbon sequestration potential is higher than those of different land uses (Figure 6.9).


Figure 6.9: Carbon Sequestration Potential of Different Land Use and Management Options

Source: ICRAF, 2009

Carbon Trade

Modalities for rewarding farmers to adopt specific land uses to enhance the production of environmental services are service specific, but with influence on the quality or quantity of other environmental services. The planting of trees for global benefits in the long run provides watershed as well as biodiversity. Deforestation not only leads to increased sedimentation and water contamination of reservoirs for urban water supply, but also leads to habitat loss. Farmers continue to degrade agricultural landscapes because they do not see the reason for conserving or planting trees.

The shift toward payment or reward mechanisms is premised on the potential of market-based approaches to induce behavioural change among ecosystem stewards toward achieving the twin goals of poverty reduction and ecosystem conservation. Experience from Latin America and Southeast Asia has shown that poor farmers living adjacent to forested ecosystems, if recognized and appropriately rewarded, are likely to adopt land uses that have positive effects on ecosystem services available to the larger society. Market-based approaches are widely viewed as having the potential to defray conservation costs, meet social objectives and match the demand of environmental services with the short-term demands of land users within pastoral and agricultural landscapes. Two of the main ways that reward schemes vary are in terms of conditionality and voluntarism: reward mechanisms differ in terms of the explicitness of conditionality and the voluntary nature of the agreement on the part of ecosystem stewards and ecosystem service beneficiaries.

Payment modalities are being worked out for carbon trade. This will be based on carbon sequestration (deriving from the net absorption of carbon dioxide in planted trees) or by protecting carbon stocks – which would otherwise be emitted – in natural forests. In Africa, carbon trading is still incipient, but there are cases that can provide useful lessons and experiences for the design and implementation of payment schemes for carbon sequestered. The Uganda Ecotrust case of paying farmers for planting trees provide useful lessons and experiences in carbon trade and payment for environmental services (PES) (Box 6.3).

Box 6.3: Tree Planting as an Income Stream as Well as Mitigating Strategy for Climate Change

If providers of ecosystem services can be fairly rewarded, there is good chance of reducing tropical deforestation and mitigating greenhouse gas production. These ideas are being implemented in pioneering efforts around the world. The challenge ahead is to replicate, scale up, and sustain these pioneering efforts. This requires major advances in the scientific understanding of natural capital, as well as in the design and implementation of finance mechanisms and supporting policies and institutions (Bond et al., 2009). Accordingly, international cooperation to assist developing countries in preventing deforestation through carbon trading is now regarded as one essential vehicle for mitigating the impacts of global warming (Stern, 2006; Hall, 2008). While no panacea, it is increasingly seen as one viable policy option if appropriately conceived and implemented. Yet, neither should Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), such as the Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) be viewed as a plain success. Many problems must be overcome if its potential is to be realised (Hall, 2008). Decisions taken at the 2007 Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bali (COP 13) reopened the possibility for REDD to become part of a post-2012 global climate regime. Consequently, a number of developed-country governments and international development agencies have forged high-level partnerships and allocated substantial new funds to help prepare countries for participation in a REDD regime, including support for capacity-building, pilot demonstration activities, and other policies and measures to achieve reduced forest emissions (Bond et al., 2009).

While debate grows over the international architecture of a REDD mechanism and negotiations continue in various UNFCCC fora, more attention has been focused on how performance-based payments and other approaches to REDD would operate at national and local levels; the priorities for up-front investment to strengthen country capacity to implement REDD; and how REDD mechanisms can be designed to maximise co-benefits for forest-dependent communities and biodiversity conservation (Bond et al., 2009). In developing appropriate management strategies involving forests, managers are increasingly expected to consider a wide range of issues and indicators, including the impacts of their actions on the greenhouse gas balance (Larsson et al., 2007). For instance, appropriately designed CBFM7 policy can provide means to sustain and strengthen community livelihoods and at the same time avoid deforestation, restore forest cover and density, provide carbon mitigation and create rural assets.

7 CBFM, Community Based Forest Management

Channelling carbon investment funds into CBFM projects can make both development and conservation economically viable and attractive for the local communities to maintain biodiversity and integrity of nature (Singh, 2008). Forest conservation for carbon sequestration purposes can be either direct or indirect. Direct interventions essentially require the “locking up” of threatened land resources into untouchable preserves. Indirect interventions comprise a far wider range of possibilities, including increasing agricultural productivity (thus lowering the need for cyclical slash and burn cropping), the development of agroforestry to meet fuel wood needs, and the opening of markets for indigenous forest products (Singh, 2008).

Existing literature indicates that forests sequester store large amounts of carbon in biomass and soils. Management practices, including afforestation, reforestation, and harvest, can substantially influence carbon sequestration potential of the land. Therefore, forest mitigation strategies may involve eliminating forest land conversions (especially in the case of tropical deforestation), postponing harvests, reducing burning or increasing carbon uptake through intensified forest management and conversion of agricultural land to forestry (Alig, 2003). Appropriate management approaches are currently in place and technologies are moderately available (Siry et al., 2009). It is widely acknowledged that CBFM micro-planning exercise at the decentralized and site-specific level calls for involving the indigenous communities and their prescriptions for managing and restoring forests. It can simultaneously be used to overcome proximate threats of fragmentation and degradation and at the same time manage forests in such a way that the resilience and resistance of forests to climate change is enhanced. By protecting and restoring biodiversity, providing connectivity, mimicking nature in plantations and controlling man-made fires, CBFM is an effective way of managing forests during climate change (Singh, 2008). In addition, there are other mechanisms that can be useful in minimising carbon emission through proper management of forests. The suppression of forest fires is one option to reduce unnecessary carbon emissions. Along with the crucial need to address the policy causes, a combination of ground-based practices of fire prevention and control has great potential for reducing the frequency and extent of forest fires (Stuart and Costa, 1998).

Bio-fuel Production and Biodiversity

In recent years, biofuels have rapidly emerged as a major issue for agricultural development, energy policy, and natural resource management. Growing demand for biofuels is being driven by recent high oil prices, energy security concerns, and global climate change. In Africa, there is growing interest from foreign private investors in establishing biofuel projects. In Tanzania, biofuel production has the potential to provide a substitute for costly oil imports (currently US$ 1.3-1.6 billion per year, 25% of total foreign exchange earnings). Biofuels also have the potential to provide a new source of agricultural income and economic growth in rural areas, and a source of improvements in local infrastructure and broader development. Although many biofuel investments involve large plantations, biofuel production can also be carried out by smallholder farmers as well as through ‘out-grower’ or local contracted farmer arrangements (IIASA8, 2009; Keeney and Nanninga, 2008; Sulle and Nelson, 2009).

8 IIASA - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

For African countries, bio-fuel investment is leading to growing interest from Western and Asian private investors in biofuel projects, as well as growing support from bilateral and multilateral donors for incorporating biofuels into government policies and development plans. For countries in Africa which are non-oil producers, biofuel production has the potential to provide at least a partial substitute for costly oil imports, which are one of the major uses of foreign exchange and sources of inflation in African economies. Biofuel crops such as oils (palm, coconut, jatropha, sunflower) may provide important new opportunities for improving the returns from agriculture, including on relatively unproductive or infertile lands (Sulle and Nelson, 2009).

External interest in biofuel production in African countries is driven largely by the low cost of land and labour in rural Africa (Cotula et al., 2008). Investors are targeting many areas of land which are perceived as being ‘unused’ or ‘marginal’ in terms of their productivity and agricultural potential. With interest in allocating such areas for increasing biofuel, the security of land tenure and access or use rights on the part of local resident communities across rural African landscapes is potentially at risk (Sulle and Nelson, 2009).

The spread of biofuels in different parts of the world has also raised concerns from civil society organizations, local communities and other parties. This concern has been attributed to the fact that the environmental impact of biofuel plantations could involve water scarcity and deforestation, particularly in coastal areas (Sulle and Nelson, 2009). Considerable concern has been expressed about the impacts of biofuel development in terms of environment and biodiversity outcomes, food security locally and nationally, and local access and rights over land (Kamanga, 2008; Gordon-Maclean et al., 2008). Some of the actual and potential agronomic and ecological threats include impacts on the soil and water. For example, biofuel plantations that involve the clearing of areas with high levels of biodiversity, or that replace natural habitats such as Miombo woodlands; large biofuel plantations that can block wildlife migratory routes in parts of the country, especially in areas surrounding or near to wildlife conservation areas (Sulle and Nelson, 2009).

The reduction in global biodiversity has emerged as one of the greatest environmental threats of the 21st century due to climate change and climate change mitigation strategies like the use of bio energy for reducing carbon emission. Urban and subsistence agricultural developments have traditionally been primary drivers of encroachment on important, biodiversity-sustaining ecosystems. But a new agricultural trend, the use of plant biomass to provide liquid fuels, is exacerbating agriculture’s impact on biodiversity. These fuels, called biofuels, are changing land-use patterns in many regions around the world, including some of the most diverse and sensitive regions on the planet (Keeney and Nanninga, 2008).

The first pathway for biodiversity loss is habitat loss following land conversion for crop production, for example, from forest or grassland. As the CBD (2008) notes, many current biofuel crops are well suited for tropical areas. This increases the economic incentives in countries with biofuel production potential to convert natural ecosystems into feedstock plantations (e.g. oil palm), causing a loss of wild biodiversity in these areas. While oil palm plantations do not need much fertilizer or pesticide, even on poor soils, their expansion can lead to loss of rainforests (FAO, 2008). Although loss of natural habitats through land conversion for biofuel feedstock production has been reported in some countries (Curran et al., 2004; Soyka and Engel, 2007), the data and analysis needed to assess its extent and consequences are still lacking. Nelson and Robertson (2008) as cited in FAO (2008) examined how rising commodity prices caused by increased biofuel demand could induce land-use change and intensification in Brazil, and found that agricultural expansion driven by higher prices could endanger areas rich in bird species diversity (FAO, 2008).

The second major pathway is loss of agro biodiversity, induced by intensification on croplands, in the form of crop genetic uniformity. Most biofuel feedstock plantations are based on a single species. There are also concerns about low levels of genetic diversity in grasses used as feedstocks, such as sugar cane, which increases the susceptibility of these crops to new pests and diseases. Conversely, the reverse is true for a crop such as jatropha, which possesses an extremely high degree of genetic diversity, most of which is unimproved, resulting in a broad range of genetic characteristics that undermine its commercial value (FAO, 2008).

When forests or grasslands are converted to farmland, be it to produce biofuel feed stocks or to produce other crops displaced by feedstock production, carbon stored in the soil is released into the atmosphere. The effects can be so great that they negate the benefits of biofuels, and lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions when replacing fossil fuels (FAO, 2008). Biofuel production can affect habitat for biodiversity. For instance, habitat is lost when natural landscapes are converted into energy-crop plantations or peatlands are drained. In some instances, however, biofuel crops can have a positive impact, for instance, when they are used to restore degraded lands. In order to ensure an environmentally sustainable biofuel production, it is important that good agricultural practices be observed, and measures to ensure sustainability be applied consistently to all crops. Moreover, national policies will need to recognise the international consequences of biofuel development (FAO, 2008).

A difference can be made between direct and indirect impacts of biofuels on biodiversity. However, there exists much vagueness with regard to the boundary line between direct and indirect impacts. In relation to impacts on biodiversity: indirect impacts mostly refer to saving species by climate change mitigation (e.g. biofuels decrease carbon emissions and thus reduce climate change, and climate change therefore has a reduced consequential impact on biodiversity); whereas direct impacts refer to interferences in ecosystems (e.g. the direct removal of existing high biodiversity value forests for palm oil plantations). From this point of view, the impacts described here mainly reflect direct effects. Although indirect impacts certainly deserve attention, there has already been an emphasis in the current debate on indirect impacts while direct impacts have received less consideration (Biemans et al., 2008).

Until recently, many policy-makers assumed that the replacement of fossil fuels with fuels generated from biomass would have significant and positive climate-change effects by generating lower levels of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Bioenergy crops can reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions by directly removing carbon dioxide from the air as they grow and storing it in crop biomass and soil. In addition to biofuels, many of these crops generate co-products such as protein for animal feed, thus saving on energy that would have been used to make feed by other means (FAO, 2008).

Despite these potential benefits, however, scientific studies have revealed that different biofuels vary widely in their greenhouse gas balances when compared with petrol. Depending on the methods used to produce the feedstock and process the fuel, some crops can even generate more greenhouse gases than do fossil fuels. For example, nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with a global- warming potential around 300 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, is released from nitrogen fertilizers. Moreover, greenhouse gases are emitted at other stages in the production of bioenergy crops and biofuels: in producing the fertilizers, pesticides and fuel used in farming, during chemical processing, transport and distribution, up to final use (FAO, 2008).

Good practices aim to apply available knowledge to address the sustainability dimensions of on-farm biofuel feedstock production, harvesting and processing. This aim applies to natural-resource management issues such as land, soil, water and biodiversity as well as to the life-cycle analysis used to estimate greenhouse gas emissions and determine whether a specific biofuel is more climate-change friendly than a fossil fuel. In practical terms, soil, water and crop protection; energy and water management; nutrient and agrochemical management; biodiversity and landscape conservation; harvesting, processing and distribution all count among the areas where good practices are needed to address sustainable bioenergy development (FAO, 2008).

Conservation agriculture is one practice that sets out to achieve sustainable and profitable agriculture for farmers and rural people by employing minimum soil disturbance, permanent organic soil cover and diversified crop rotations. In the context of the current focus on carbon storage and on technologies that reduce energy intensity, it seems especially appropriate. The approach also proves responsive to situations where labour is scarce and there is a need to conserve soil moisture and fertility. Interventions such as mechanical soil tillage are reduced to a minimum, and inputs such as agrochemicals and nutrients of mineral or organic origin are applied at an optimum level and in amounts that do not disrupt biological processes. Conservation agriculture has been shown to be effective across a variety of agro-ecological zones and farming systems. Good farming practices, coupled with good forestry practices, could greatly reduce the environmental costs associated with the possible promotion of sustainable intensification at forest margins. Approaches based on agro-silvo-pasture-livestock integration could be considered also when bioenergy crops form part of the mix (FAO, 2008).

Although the multiple and diverse environmental impacts of bioenergy development do not differ substantively from those of other forms of agriculture, the question remains of how they can best be assessed and reflected in field activities. Existing environmental impact-assessment techniques and strategic environmental assessments offer a good starting point for analysing the biophysical factors. There also exists a wealth of technical knowledge drawn from agricultural development during the past 60 years. New contributions from the bioenergy context include analytical frameworks for bioenergy and food security and analytical frameworks for bioenergy impact analysis for bioenergy impact analysis (FAO, 2009); work on the aggregate environmental impacts, including soil acidification, excessive fertilizer use, biodiversity loss, air pollution and pesticide toxicity (Zah et al., 2007). Also, work on social and environmental sustainability criteria, including limits on deforestation, competition with food production, adverse impacts on biodiversity, soil erosion and nutrient leaching (FAO, 2008).

Climate Change Coping Strategies and Adaptation

Farmers have minimised or spread risks by managing a mix of crops; crop varieties and sites; staggering the sowing/planting of crops; and adjusting land and crop management to suit the prevailing conditions (Blench, 2003; Eyzaguirre and Iwanaga; 1996; Tengberg et al., 1998; van Oosterhout, 1996). Pastoralists have also developed useful strategies including: transhumance (strategic movement of livestock to manage pasture and water resources); distributing stock among relatives and friends in various places to minimise the risk of losing all animals if a drought strikes one particular area; and the opportunistic cultivation of food and cash crops to meet some of their needs (Paavola, 2004; Orindi and Eriksen, 2005).

Implications of Climate Change Response on Natural Resources

Adaptation to climate change is concerned “with adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities” (IPCC, 2007). Given the current extreme impacts of climate change, adaptation to environmental variability has been undertaken (to varying degrees of success) by people for millennia. Farmers’ adaptation to their environment, livelihood diversification and coping strategies to deal with the overall variability of their social and natural environment are well documented (Grist, 2008).

Throughout the world, adaptation to the effects of climate change has become increasingly evident. Several researches have raised awareness of the challenges that climate changes process poses, particularly for poor developing countries (Tyler and Fajbar, 2009). This awareness has resulted in increased commitment to support for adaptation at the global and international level (ibid).

In addition, available studies have identified the most vulnerable countries and regions; adaptive capacity has been assessed and improved; and national action programmes have been initiated in many countries. Despite these achievements, climate change adaptation has not been adequately integrated into planning and policy in key natural resource management sectors (ibid)

Currently, a number of innovative responses are already taking place at the local level to tackle the dual agendas of poverty alleviation and resource sustainability. These responses provide a base on which to enhance resilience to future impacts of climate change, and are in many cases already responding to climate variability. Positive local efforts include strengthening production systems, building economic assets, improving access to markets and information, diversifying to less climate-sensitive livelihoods, reducing disaster risks through local planning and preparation, and building foundations for all of these initiatives through more effective institutions of local governance and resource management (ibid)

Technical approaches to Strengthening production systems are widely recognized as necessary but not sufficient to enhance resource sustainability and equity (Sayer and Campbell, 2004). Attention to more equitable tenure arrangements and access to productive resources is essential for sustainability and for poverty reduction. Ultimately, community-based resource management institutions (water, forests, rangelands) strive for more participatory and locally responsive planning, and aim to be inclusive of the voices of the poor and marginal groups. As well, innovative approaches to co-management have supported more equitable tenure arrangements, and addressed conflicts between different pastoral and sedentary groups (Tyler and Fajbar, 2009).

Local adaptation strategies have adopted integrated planning at the local level, across sectors and with attention to livelihoods as well as resource sustainability. Integrated management strategies that employ ecosystem and landscape approaches has been one step towards these frameworks and practices that recognize the interdependencies of land and water resources, and the need to consider these resources more holistically (ibid)

Also, the concept of sustainable adaptation has emerged from an awareness that adaptation can have unintended negative effects both on peoples and on the environment and that there is a need to qualify exactly what types of adaptation are desirable (Eriksen, 2009). The environmental sustainability aspect emphasises that adaptation needs not endanger the environmental or economic integrity, neither for other groups at present or for future generations. Therefore, mitigation of greenhouse gases becomes an important part of sustainable adaptation criteria. In high emission societies in particular, adaptation to climate change needs to take place in a way that does not increase emissions and hence aggravate the vulnerability of others. Increased use of air conditioning as a response to rising temperatures may not be a sustainable form of adaptation, for example. From focusing on local level development type measures, sustainable adaptation has come to have global significance (Eriksen, 2009).

Forests conservation depict a significant link between biodiversity and climate change, as they represent a defence against atmospheric Carbon dioxide built up as well as a repository of the genetic heritage of the world’s flora and fauna. From this perspective, reforestation of degraded forests is a remedy to solve climate change problem. Several studies have demonstrated increased tolerance to environmental extremes and greater temporal stability and recovery potential as species richness increases. Species richness enhances stability by redundancy provided by multispecies membership in critical functional groups (Singh, 2008).

A functional group with more diverse membership can maintain its role in the ecosystem despite fluctuations in its member species. With interest in availability of a wide diversity of resources within their resource catchments, indigenous people also contribute to restoration of biodiversity in depleted landscapes. Where a stake is created for them as is done in CBFM, their detailed knowledge of succession and habitat preferences of different species greatly contributes to such a process (Singh, 2008). If biodiversity is maintained, long-term viability increases in case of global climate change because out of a multitude of native species, at least some individuals may respond better than the others (ibid).

Role of Forests in Climate Change Adaptation

Forests also serve as a source of resilience by absorbing harmful carbon dioxide emissions, providing resources to local populations, and through forest-landscape design to protect communities from increasingly erratic weather. Hence, it is acknowledged that forests have substantial contributions to national and global mitigation portfolios designed to reduce the rate of Carbon dioxide (CO2) increases in the global atmosphere (Larsson et al., 2007). The reduced GHG concentration would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a time frame sufficient enough to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that the food production is not threatened and economic development proceeds in a sustainable manner. Although, there is no legal requirement that carbon dioxide be stabilized at this acceptable level;, bringing the concentration as close as possible to the pre-industrial level is what the society must aim at in the long run (Pandey, 2002; Singh, 2008). Since carbon (C) emissions from deforestation and degradation account for about 20% of global anthropogenic emissions; deforestation has been accounted as the single largest source of land-use change emissions, resulting in extreme carbon emissions. Estimated net annual decline in the forest area globally in the 1990s was 9.4 million hectares (Mha), representing the difference between the annual deforestation of 14.6 Mha and the annual afforestation of 5.2Mha (FAO, 2001; Singh, 2008). Hence, the Stern Review (2006) reinforces the finding that forest conservation, afforestation, reforestation and sustainable forest management can provide up to 25% of the emission reductions needed to effectively combat climate change. The Review concludes that curbing deforestation has the potential to offer significant emission reductions fairly quickly in a highly cost-effective manner (Singh, 2008).

Apart from Carbon sequestration, agroforestry can increase smallholders’ income as well as provide other ecosystem services including inter alia fodder, fruit and nuts, gums, resins, medicines and reduced sediment flow. Agroforestry also helps to prevent soil erosion, restore soil fertility, provide shade, and sequester carbon as well as offsetting some of the effects of climatic change. Agroforestry also diversifies farmers’ sources of income especially in the case of extreme events like droughts and floods. Different innovative market-based approaches are being explored to facilitate carbon trading as an alternative income stream for smallholder farmers. This is commonly referred to as payments for environmental services.

Community Adaptation to Climate Change

Whilst mitigation is important and should be addressed, the potentially devastating impacts of climate change on natural resources, livelihoods and economies in Africa make adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change, a top priority for the region. Adaptation is an immediate as well as on-going long term challenge. The needs for adaptation are overwhelming and adequate resources and science basis is needed through policy reforms and improved planning by integrating climate change into their development planning (climate proofing development), NAPAs and community engagement. The implementation of national level adaptation plans including NAPAs, should integrate:

• Promotion of technologies for the implementation of adaptation actions at local level, including natural resource conservation systems;

• Support of the development and implementation of regional medium and long term adaptation strategies and activities;

• Addressing of the concerns of all vulnerable groups, whose adaptive capacity is low, particularly women, the elderly, physically challenged and children who are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change;

• Infrastructure investment through the use of climate change proofed technologies;

• Development of Climate related Disaster Risk Reduction and management as an adaptation tool which should be emphasized in the negotiations;

• The protection of ecosystems including trans-boundary ecosystems, which are particularly vulnerable such as the coastal, marine, wetlands and fresh water ecosystems.

Adaptation challenge for Africa paired with a growing acknowledgement that successful adaptive practice must take into account local practices and engage with local institutions (Agrawal and Perrin 2009). There is also potential of indigenous knowledge (which is often transmitted orally at very local scales and not formally documented) for adaptation.

The impact of climate change is going to affect the poorest communities the most, so the focus is shifting to formalising Community-Based Adaptation to climate change. Even with the best of intentions and lots of resources made available by the international community towards adaptation to climate change, it will only trickle down to the poorest and most vulnerable (UNFCCC, 2007). There is a clear distinction between adaptation to climate change and adaptation to climate variation. Climate variability refers to the variations in the mean climate statistics, while climate change refers to long-term significant change in average weather, including climate variability. Any adaptation measures to each of them must incorporate this distinction. Effective knowledge management is critical to community based adaptation (Ochieng, 2009).

For Africa, community based adaptation is critical. Building on the recognition of the need for a bottom-up approach, some more recent programmes/projects have started to employ a more local-level strategy to climate-change adaptation. The approach focuses on enhancing the capacity of communities and organizations to link local adaptive capacity to climate change to local interventions, by including climate-change risks as part of the initial assessment process to define development work at community level. community based adaptation builds on the practice of starting the process of local intervention by asking people what their problems are, and what exactly they need help with. There is need to understand the role of enhancing local capacity as a means to deal with climate change, as the starting point for an “innovative adaptive community”.

Climate Change Governance

Africa has hitherto made little contribution to the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Data for per capita emissions of carbon dioxide, excluding land-use change, indicate that in most African countries, emissions are less than 0.5 tonnes per capita. This is equivalent to one-twentieth that of the United Kingdom (Collier et al., 2008). Surprisingly, sub-Saharan Africa, with 11% of the world’s population, accounts for just 3.6% of world emissions of Carbon dioxide, reflecting low levels of income and of energy consumption (ibid). Although current estimates indicate variations between countries, there is evidence to show that most developing countries will become significant polluters in the near future. Some of the developing countries already contributing to greenhouse gas emissions include Brazil, India, Indonesia, China, South Korea, South Africa and Mexico. This has been due to scientific and economic evolutions taking place to compete with developed countries. These countries have experienced phenomenal economic growth, which has been matched by a rise in aggregate GHG emissions (IISD, 2008). For instance, China is reported to have surpassed the United States in total emissions in 2006 (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2007; IISD, 2008). In addition, China alone is close to surpassing the USA in terms of emission rates and was projected to be responsible for almost 40% of global increases in emissions between 2004 and 2030 (IEA 2007: 81; IIED 2008). Overall, Brazil, India, Indonesia, China, South Korea, South Africa and Mexico in 2005 had Carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to over 90% of the top five Annex I emitters (see Table 6.1) (IISD, 2008). By 2012, if current trends continue, developing countries as a whole will overtake the OECD9 (mainly developed countries) as global emitters of carbon dioxide, with China and India contributing the lion’s share.

9 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Table 6.1: Major Developing Country Emitters and Annex I Five Biggest Carbon Dioxide

Emitters by 2005



Carbon Emissions (Million tonnes)

Carbon Emission Per Capita (Million tonnes /Carbon dioxide/ Population

(Gross National Income (GNI) per Capita



























United kingdom*










South Korea*















South Africa














Note: Annex 1 countries marked with an asterix, *

Source: IEA, 2007a:48–57; World Bank, 2007: 288–289.

However, compared with many Annex I parties, the major developing countries emitters are still developing, with significantly lower economic indicators and commensurately lower GHG emissions per capita (see Table 6.1). Moreover, much of the rest of the developing world is still in the same position in relation to the OECD countries as they were when Kyoto Protocol was negotiated. Notwithstanding, the world will be much different again in 2012, after three more years of economic growth. In this respect, an effective post-2012 regime will require flexibility to be able to account for such changes (IISD, 2008).

While it is recognized that Annex I Parties have a responsibility to support developing countries with their adaptation efforts, the basis upon which this support is provided (assistance or compensation; voluntarily or compulsory) and the level of funding to be provided is a matter of considerable discussion. For example, as of September 2007, the United States had not contributed funding to either the Least Developed Countries Fund or the Special Climate Change Fund. In contrast, contributions to either or both of these funds had been received from 18 other developed countries, as listed in Annex 1 (GEF, 2007b; IISD, 2008).

Although actions and discussions to date under the UNFCCC have focused on technology transfer, this has proven to be a controversial topic. The controversy stems from the differing perceptions of what drives technology transfer; developing countries have called on developed countries to increase financial and technical support, focusing on the removal of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and the creation of a new fund to buy patents. Developed countries have argued that the intellectual property does not belong to governments, but to the private sector and have pointed to the need for incentives for private companies that own the technologies (IISD, 2008).

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) also contribute financially, with the World Bank (2006) reporting that over the five year period to 2005, the World Bank Group (WBG), the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Inter- American Development Bank invested over US$17 billion in projects that directly or indirectly contribute to lowering carbon emissions in the developing countries. The EIB has invested close to US$30 billion in similar projects in the EU, European Free Trade Association and the EU accession countries. The World Bank notes that this is still a small portion of the overall resources required for clean energy.

The Stern Review (2006 estimates that the costs of reducing GHG emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year. Without action, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year and estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more if a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account (IISD, 2008). In the absence of mitigation and adaptation efforts, the economic damage caused by climate change will potentially be in the trillions of dollars per year. In the near term, a temperature rise of 2°C to 3°C (as is expected to take place within the next 50 years) is projected to result in a permanent economic loss of up to 3% of global GDP (Stern, 2006). Planned adaptation measures can reduce these costs. The scale of investment required to undertake these measures, however, is highly uncertain. This uncertainty reflects existing limitations in our knowledge of the type, magnitude and timing of climatic changes and their consequent impacts, as well as the long time horizons involved. However, some initial estimates provide an indication of the expected scale of financing that could be needed:

• The UNFCCC has estimated that in 2030, between US$49 and $171 billion dollars in additional investment and financial flows will be needed globally for adaptation; of this amount, US$28 to $67 billion will be needed by non-Annex I Parties (UNFCCC, 2007a).

• The estimated additional cost of climate-proofing new infrastructure and buildings in OECD countries could be between US$15 and $150 billion per year (or 0.05 to 0.5 per cent of GDP; Stern, 2006).

• The World Bank (2006a) has estimated that approximately 20 to 40% of activities financed by Official Development Assistance (ODA) and concessional finance are sensitive to climate risks and that the annual cost of addressing this risk would be US$1 to $8 billion.

• Additionally, the Bank has estimated that between US$9 and $41 billion will be needed annually to “climate proof” new investments globally (World Bank, 2006a; IISD, 2008).

• Oxfam has estimated that US$50 billion per year will be required each year to assist developing countries with their efforts to adapt to climate change (Oxfam, 2007a).

• The cost of adaptation priority activities identified in 16 of the first 17 National Adaptation Programmes of Action submitted by LDCs to the UNFCCC amounts to US$292 million (UNFCCC, 2007a; IISD, 2008).

Although these estimates are generally derived from basic calculations and make a number of assumptions, they suggest that tens of billions of dollars in additional funding will be required each year to help countries prepare for and respond to unavoidable impacts of climate change. These funds will need to be provided through a combination of national and local government expenditures (in developed and developing countries), private sector investments, and the transfer of funds from developed to developing countries (IISD, 2008).

Tirpak and Adams (2007) report that there is a considerable gap between current public funding and projected financing requirements for energy technology. While most of this gap may be filled by private capital, public funding, particularly grants, will be needed to reduce the risks associated with the introduction of new technologies and to encourage developing countries to implement more environmentally friendly, but more costly options (IISD, 2008).

The increasing sustainable energy investments and growing international technology cooperation to deal with climate change are laudable. Yet there is much work to do. In practical terms, very little transfer of hard technologies has taken place and technology cooperation agreements to date have not yielded substantial results (Ott, 2007; Murphy et al., 2005; Republic of South Africa, 2006 in IISD, 2008) – certainly not enough to kick-start the deep reductions needed to stabilize Carbon Dioxide emissions at a safe level. Much remains to be done to promote the development and diffusion of climate-friendly technologies and an effective post-2012 agreement will need to include provisions to stimulate technology in developed and developing countries, far beyond what has taken place to date (IISD, 2008).

Climate Change Governance at National levels

Climate change and variability is cross-sectoral and dynamic. The gradual shifts associated with climatic change and variability requires dynamic processes that engages all sectors, gender and underpinned by policies, legislation and institutional arrangements. The design and implementation of payments for carbon sequestration needs clarity on land and tree tenure, gender, and their influence on use of accrued benefits at household or community level. Addressing climate change and variability, therefore, requires institutional adaptation that includes sector-based planning, integration and mainstreaming, decentralization and devolution. Such approach must consider cross scale linkages. Many countries in Africa are already developing National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) (See Box 6.4 for an excerpt from Mozambique NAPA). NAPAs seek to provide a basic framework for communicating “the urgent and immediate adaptation needs of the country. NAPAs are intended to be action-oriented, country-driven, and widely endorsed.

Box 6.4: Summary of The Mozambique National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA)

Institutional adaptation to climate change

Current institutional architecture does not match the dynamism of climate change and variability. Developing countries lack strategic policy formulation to deal with emerging threats of climate change and food crises. Existing policies and laws are sectoral, some outdated and duplicative in nature. Despite these weaknesses, it is worth noting that policy domains steer government interventions, influence markets and market transactions, concern the immediate needs and decisions of consumers, and have important impact on the behaviour of interested and affected groups within different policy domains.

The pursuit of a vertical policy approach limits linkages across different policy domains. Addressing, promoting and balancing feedbacks across the different domains would be the best planning approach. Integration and mainstreaming of different innovations, including those aimed at adapting and mitigating climate change in the face of differing mandates of the different sectors, is a challenge. The existing opportunities for underpinning climate change and variability at the national level include:

i) Formulation of cross-sectoral policies and laws: what happens in the agricultural sector affects other agriculture related sectors like forestry, wetlands, water, fisheries, livestock, energy, trade and wildlife. Framing climate change interventions across sectors will not only promote uptake, but provide a platform for addressing some of the policy constraints. A cross-sectoral policy framework provides opportunities for reducing potential negative effects of one policy domain on the others and promotes spinoffs. This ensures that what happens in each sector is informed by what is happening in other sectors and lessons and experiences are shared across different policy domains. Cross-sectoral planning as opposed to sectoral planning facilitates proper allocation of meagre resources, sharing of lessons and experiences, identification and replication of best bets across sectors. However, advocating for cross-sectoral policy formulation and implementation frameworks is complicated by different mandates of policy domains, power relations, conflicts and rivalries between different sectors and perceived level of influence between and among different policy domains.

ii) Decentralization and devolution: Decentralization finds expression in numerous policy and legal instruments. In East Africa, the tendency is to move away from more or less exclusive state competencies to stronger management responsibilities and property rights in local governments and communities. Unfortunately, provisions in law for decentralization are often not implemented and hence, disconnects between what the laws say (‘the spirit of the law’) and the common practice. In Mali, for example, the Forestry Code of 1995 advocates for sustainable access, use and management of native tree species by communities to achieve social, economic, cultural and ecological objectives. In contrast, the government uses permits and license to control access, use and management of native tree species (Yatich et al., 2008). Such a scenario is replicated across East Africa and is likely to disincentivize farmers. It is worsened by land resource tenure, which is vested in the state. In Uganda, for instance, environmental management has been devolved to lower levels of government. However, the implementation of decentralized natural resource management faces a challenge of limited capacities and resources in the districts. It is no wonder that many of the decentralized functions have not been carried out.

iii) Nested and subsidiarity relative to sector-based policy domains: Multilayered governance systems are complicated by feedback mechanism between different levels. Ellinor Ostrom (1990), cited by Marshall (2007), observed that collective action problems faced by larger groups are decomposable into smaller problems that can be handled by subunits of the larger group. Such smaller groups can be nested as part of larger inclusive organizational units. Smaller groups, argues Marshall (2007), become part of an inclusive system without giving up their autonomy. Multi-layered governance systems provide opportunities and disincentives for nesting climate change interventions in the different sectors as well as promoting cross-sector work. Multi-layered governance systems with links with ‘informal’ institutional frameworks at different levels will also act as platforms for building consensus and buy-in for the adoption of adaptation and mitigation measures. Such platforms are expected to be smaller than different layers of governance. Within a larger complex system, nested units can function and capitalize on benefits of the multi-layered system. Nesting allows for decentralized decision making (Ostrom et al., 1999), enhanced access to local knowledge, and increased likelihood of informal infrastructures. Nesting also has its challenges. Young (2002), identified two problems with nested systems: assigning governance tasks across the different levels and dealing with cross-level interactions or ‘vertical interplay’ arising from any assignment. These weaknesses can be addressed by the ‘principle of subsidiarity’ which argues that any particular task should be decentralized to the lowest level of governance with the capacity to implement satisfactorily (Marshall, 2007).

iv) Integration and mainstreaming of climate change: Different integration and mainstreaming modes have been discussed in Yatich et al., (2008). With regards to climate change, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each of these modes and the entry points would be useful in taking the right decisions as illustrated in Figure 6.10:


Figure 6.10: Relationships Between Different Domains and How Nested Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) Could be Addressed Through Interactions Between Action Institutions and Knowledge Systems

Source: Yatich et al., (2008)

The national level sub-unit is charged with policy formulation and implementation facilitation. Lower level sub-units are mainly responsible for translating policy provisions into actions with lessons and experiences feeding into the national level policy formulation sub-unit. In the case of climate change, national level lessons and experiences feed into regional and international level negotiations and decisions. Policy, plans, projects and programmes implementation at different regime structure levels are often not informed by research undertaken by different organizations at different levels. Implementation of policies, plans, projects and programmes is also affected by complexities associated with multilevel governance systems (Figure 6.10). Regional-level initiatives influence and are shaped by what is happening at the national-level domain. Discussions at the international level on several policy areas and collective learning and action initiatives influence what is happening at the national and country-level domains. International level negotiations and collective action are also influenced by what is happening at the regional and national levels. Climate change adaptation or any other large-scale environmental problems are then nested in the different levels of governance providing opportunities of learning lessons across different levels.

Climate Change Scenarios

Climate change and its impacts on NRM and human well-being are uncertain. Addressing them requires an understanding of future plausible trends and implications. Climate change as the main socio-economic driver of environmental change is global in scope and inherently unpredictable. Given the uncertainties, future social, economic and environmental implications of climate change can only be roughly approximated at regional and local scales. Scenarios, providing alternative images of how the future might unfold, can act as an integration tool in the assessment of future environmental and social changes with respect to NRM at different scales. Scenarios are not predictions, but form a tool for imagining alternative worlds that could result given differences in a few key factors. Many NRM-based climate change scenarios have been developed for describing contrasting, hypothetical futures, spann