Community-based Conservation

Community Based Conservation in Manakao Photo
WCS works in local communities in Madagascar to help manage and conserve their fisheries.
Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Rural communities may subsist for centuries in relative harmony with the environment and the wildlife that surrounds them. But economic straits, rapid population growth, political and cultural changes, and outside demand for resources can disrupt the balance of this relationship. In the face of industrial resource extraction and global trade, local governments cannot always enforce an area’s traditional laws. The result is that communities may lose access to their land, water, and wildlife resources.

WCS works with local people to help them manage their natural resources and trains them to become more effective stewards of their environment. WCS’s approach combines creative thinking with solid business strategies to bolster economies and living standards while protecting ecosystems and wildlife populations.

WCS Projects

Poachers-turned-Protectors in Zambia

Snares are silent, indiscriminate killers of wildlife. In many areas, poachers use snares widely because they are relatively cheap and easy to install. With the help of WCS, the people of Zambia’s Luangwa Valley are turning in their illegal snares and guns, and in return, they are being trained in farming, beekeeping, carpentry, and other livelihood skills. They are also turning the snare wire into decorative jewelry.

Sustaining biological and cultural diversity in Bolivia

Bolivia’s Madidi-Tambopata landscape has a wide range of altitudes as well as a high diversity of ecosystems and peoples. WCS works to conserve its cultural and biological heritage via initiatives that improve land-use and livelihoods.

Herdsman Conserving Eastern Mongolia

The Mongol people have historically herded livestock across communal lands. Today, approximately 30 percent of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic. This method of livestock production often causes habitat destruction and loss of native wildlife. WCS has been working with herder groups to develop wildlife management, protection, and monitoring plans in their community-managed areas. Herders and volunteer rangers learn to rotate their pastures and enforce wildlife protection laws against illegal hunting.

Villages Protect Migratory Paths in Tanzania

To accommodate the needs of wildlife, ecosystems, and people, WCS is working with the Tanzanian government, tour operators, and communities around Tarangire National Park to preserve wildlife and livestock migrations.

From the Newsroom

Green Business Grows in ZambiaAugust 22, 2011

WCS’s COMACO program in Zambia transforms poachers into organic farmers, benefitting local communities and wildlife alike. A new study documents the program’s growing success.

Snails Save the DayApril 28, 2010

African giant snails are giving local villagers big options when it comes to food and livelihoods, and gorilla poaching is not one of them.

Snareware: Blight into BeautyMarch 4, 2008

In many parts of the world, procuring dinner can be a daily struggle. A nose for business is not just for the savvy—it’s a survival skill.

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