Frequently Asked questions
... about sustainable use, CBNRM, indigenous peoples and local community rights, and what is Resource Africa's role in local communities rights-advocacy work, how COVID19 has affected rural communities in southern Africa, more
What does RA do?
Resource Africa supports rural African community efforts to secure their rights to access and sustainably use their natural resources in order to sustain their livelihoods. Natural resources include all aspects of the environment that contribute to people’s wellbeing, including land, water, wildlife, atmosphere, forests, soil, plants, and minerals.
Our work is demand-driven, responding to the needs and aspirations of people who live in rural Africa today. We help to build strong platforms for collaboration, knowledge, skills sharing, capacity building, awareness raising, and joint advocacy to ensure community voices are heard in debates that materially affect their lives. We enhance community leaders’ ability to engage and exercise their agency in policy processes at all levels.
Who does RA work with?
Resource Africa helps build collaborative partnerships between rural communities and other organisations working on environment and rights, such as government agencies, non-governmental organisations, inter-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, grant-making organisations, and research institutions.
In partnership with the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO) and the Southern African Trust (SAT), we provide secretariat and technical support services to the Community Leaders Network, a network of representatives of rural communities from across Southern Africa.
You can find a list of our key partners here.
What is RA’s philosophy?
We recognise the fundamental interdependence between human rights and the integrity of the natural environment. We bring to the forefront related issues such as land and resource tenure, governance, resilient and thriving livelihoods, gender equality, inter-generational dialogue, self-determination and equity.
Our primary goal is to increase recognition and respect for the right of peoples to sustainably use and benefit from the resources on their land and enhancing community leaders’ ability to engage and exercise their agency in policy processes at all levels.
We believe, based on years of practical experience, that when rights are upheld and incentives for conservation are provided to those who live with wildlife there will be positive conservation outcomes benefitting people and nature.
Read more about Resource Africa and our story here
Where does RA work?
What is CBNRM?
Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) is an approach to managing natural resources that emphasises communities’ rights to manage and sustainably use the natural resources on their land. CBNRM comes in a variety of forms across Southern Africa, all of which share commitments to sustainably using natural resources to support economic, human, and community development, governed by representative and accountable local institutions.
Find out more about CBRNM in Southern Africa here
Why are rights important for conservation?
Rights of Indigenous People and Local Communities are enshrined in national and international laws. They are clearly stipulated in global agreements such as the Convention on Biodiversity, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the United Nations Framework Principles on Human Rights and the Environment. These laws and agreements require everyone to respect the rights of local people to manage, use, and derive economic and other benefits from the natural resources on their land. CBNRM is not possible unless communities have clear, enforceable rights to control their land and resources.
Devolution of rights to rural people ensures that they have incentives to manage natural resources sustainably and prevent others from over-harvesting their resources and as such is a cornerstone of equitable, sustainable and socially just biodiversity conservation.
What is sustainable use?
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity sustainable use is: “the use of components of biological diversity in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity, thereby maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations”.
Sustainable use of wildlife therefore includes a wide variety of consumptive uses (e.g. hunting, fishing) and non-consumptive (e.g. wildlife viewing and photography or safaris). It also includes traditional cultural, and spiritual practices such as collecting wild plants and fungi for food or medicine.
By definition, sustainable use does not threaten species survival. In fact, substantial scientific evidence shows that sustainable use can promote species survival by providing economic and other social incentives against overexploitation, habitat destruction, and persecution (especially of dangerous animals).
Does Resource Africa support consumptive use of wildlife, such as conservation hunting?
Yes, under certain circumstances. Evidence demonstrates that, when hunting is well regulated and appropriate rights-based governance regimes are in place, conservation (trophy) hunting can benefit people, wildlife populations, and habitat.
We work with communities throughout the SADC region who have rights to manage and benefit from wildlife and whose livelihoods are significantly enhanced through income generated from regulated, sustainable hunting and other forms of wildlife-related land use. The substantial revenue that conservation hunting generates for rural people pays for community anti-poaching patrols, provides jobs, income and meat, and supports social services such as rural electrification, schools, health clinics, or grinding mills. Trophy hunting can also help reduce human-wildlife conflict (either by deterring dangerous wildlife from areas near people or by incentivising local people to tolerate dangerous species) and, as a consequence, it can reduce retaliatory killing of wildlife.
Despite its net benefits, conservation hunting is controversial with those who oppose the killing of animals on ideological grounds. Resource Africa recognises and respects that animal rights are important to many. However, in keeping with global norms, we believe that human rights take precedence over the rights of animals. We therefore recognise and seek to raise greater awareness of the human rights and welfare implications which arise when people’s rights to sustainably use, manage and benefit from their resources are undermined by people far removed from their lived reality who, often unknowingly, choose to put the rights of animals before the rights of Africans and the future of conservation in Africa.
We recognise that in many countries there is need to enhance regulation and governance, as well as improve transparency of benefit flows to conservation and communities, just as there is for other conservation initiatives and mechanisms.
We do not support ‘canned hunting’ activities that take place in some areas of South Africa.
What are the conservation benefits of conservation (trophy) hunting?
In African countries where trophy hunting takes place, it is estimated that over 1.4 million square kilometres of land is conserved as natural habitat. This is more land than is conserved within national parks and other state-protected areas (Lindsey, et al. 2007).
Several species, including lions, fare worst in areas where there is no photo-tourism or trophy hunting and unregulated killing can be more prevalent than in hunting zones, leading to serious repercussions for conservation and animal welfare (Redpath, et al. 2015).
The value of trophy hunting for South Africa’s economy exceeds $340 million annually and supports more than 17,000 jobs (Saayman et al, 2018).
In Namibia, the revenues generated by trophy hunting of elephants and rhinos support over 40 communal conservancies. Simulations show that a hunting ban would result in significant negative impacts on both local people and wildlife, with large areas likely to be lost to conservation (Naidoo et al 2016).
How has COVID-19 affected rural communities in southern Africa?
COVID-19 has had disastrous effects on rural communities and conservation in Southern Africa, exacerbating existing challenges and creating new ones. Beyond its public health implications, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on rural economies, especially those that rely heavily on nature-based tourism. Restrictions on domestic and international travel have reduced income from tourism by approximately 90% in rural areas, exacerbating persistent problems of poverty and inequality and driving many households into ‘survival’ mode.
This increases threats to wildlife, wild lands, and conservation areas as people with no other options have lost their incentives to conserve wildlife and are sometimes driven to unsustainable survivalist strategies. Communities throughout southern Africa report increasing incidences of consumption of wild animals (bush-meat), poaching, tree cutting, artisanal mining, encroachment into formally protected areas, and conversion of natural habitats. People have few other means to survive.
It is essential for both humanitarian and biodiversity outcomes to take urgent action to mitigate the worst impacts of COVID. Options to do so exist. Resource Africa is working with partners in the region to develop innovative emergency responses based on a conservation-sensitive social protection framework.
COVID has provided further evidence that removal of incentives for rural people to manage natural resources sustainably, which is contingent on secure and respected rights to manage and benefit from resources, is a recipe for disaster for biodiversity conservation.