The developing world’s poorest people live in marginal, often harsh rural environments. The natural resource base tends to be fragile and highly vulnerable to over exploitation. Yet these rural people depend directly on access to the food, forage, fuel, fibre, water, medicines, and building materials provided by local ecosystems. What types of natural resource management (NRM) can improve the livelihoods of these poor people while protecting or enhancing the natural resource base they depend on? New approaches to NRM are needed – ones that move beyond the earlier narrow focus on productivity (such as crop yields), to include social, institutional, and policy considerations.
One such approach – comanagement – is presented in this book. It can be defined as collaborative arrangements in which the community of local resource users, local and senior governments, and other stakeholders share responsibility and authority for managing a specified natural resource or resources. This book draws on more than a decade of research across the developing world and presents case studies from Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Lebanon, and Viet Nam.
A key message to resource managers, policymakers, researchers, and development practitioners is that proposed solutions to NRM problems will be effective and lasting only if driven by the knowledge, action, and learning of local users. This book presents only a small sample of the research on community based NRM supported by IDRC over the years. For more analysis, discussion, and case material, visit the companion Web site, www.idrc.ca/in_focus_comanagement, which is included with this book, on CD-Rom.
Stephen R. Tyler is president of Adaptive Resource Management Ltd, a consulting and research firm based in Victoria, Canada. Dr Tyler was formerly team leader of IDRC’s Community-based Natural Resource Management program in Asia. In that position, he was responsible for a portfolio of more than 75 projects in 12 countries over 7 years. He holds a doctorate in city and regional planning from the University of California in Berkeley and has worked on environment and resource management issues in Canada and other countries for almost 30 years. He is the editor of the recent book entitled Communities, Livelihoods, and Natural Resources: Action Research and Policy Change in Asia (ITDG/IDRC 2006).