Community Based Natural Resource Forum


TNRF promotes community based natural resource management (CBNRM) as the focus for strengthening citizens voice in the forestry, rangelands, wildlife and fisheries thematic areas across the country and at community level.

Focusing on the citizen and community brings natural resources management down to the level of practice, where the effects of policy can be seen and where real changes occur.  Promoting CBNRM will put the citizen (men, women and children) first, secure livelihoods at the community level and foster sustainable natural resource use.

CBNRM in Tanzania


Community based natural resources management (CBNRM) as a broad conservation and rural development approach emerged in the early 1990s in Tanzania and most of sub-Saharan African countries following a conservation paradigm shift from state-centric top-down conservation approaches to democratic decentralization and participatory bottom-up conservation and rural development approaches. Many factors contributed to the conservation paradigm shift and emergence of CBNRM approaches including: a clear failure by the poor newly independent African states including Tanzania to halt rampant wildlife poaching and massive deforestation in the 1970s (Brockington, 2005); increased pressure by the national and international NGOs, such as International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to participate in natural resources management claiming to be better equipped with resources (manpower, finances and technical capacity) than the poor newly independent African states (Hutton and Leader-Williams, 2003; Brockington, 2005). CBNRM aimed to confer natural resources management rights and powers to local rural communities in managing resources found in their areas. The underlying premise was that, local communities are likely to be better managers of the resources since their livelihoods almost entirely depend on the resources hence they put a high value on them for their sustenance.

CBNRM emerged in the wildlife sector and soon spread to other sectors including forestry, water, rangelands and fisheries. In Tanzania, CBNRM models include the Community Conservation and Outreach services (CCS) under Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA); the Community Based Conservation (CBC) later Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) approach under the Wildlife Division (WD); the participatory forest management (PFM) approaches which is categorized into Joint Forest Management (JFM) and Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) models; fisheries co-management approaches such as Beach Management Units (BMUs), among others. However, the scale and degree to which these models delegate powers over resource management and decision making to communities differs considerably (Fabricius et al., 2004; Nelson, 2010). In general, CBNRM has rapidly expanded in numbers and geographic coverage over the last 20 years. Several and important policy and legislation reforms have taken place for the aim of creating an enabling policy and legislation environment for effective CBNRM implementation at the national level. These include:

  • Wildlife sub-sector: The Wildlife Policy of Tanzania (1998 revised 2007), The New Wildlife Act of 2009 replacing the 1974 Act and the Wildlife Management Areas Regulations (2005 came into force in 2003).
  • Forestry sub-sector: The New Forest Policy of Tanzania (1998 replacing the 1953 colonial Forest Ordinance), the Forestry Act of 2002
  • Fisheries sub-sector: The Fisheries Policy of Tanzania (1997), the Fisheries Act (2003) and the Fisheries Regulations (2005).
  • Water sub-sector: the Water Policy (2002), the Water Resources Act (2009) and Water Regulation

The success of Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) as an integrated sustainable rural development and natural resources management strategy is challenged by many factors including: lack of enabling policy and legislative environment for effective CBNRM implementation; inadequate resources (human, financial, technical, time) among local, district and national actors/agents for its effective implementation; insufficient understanding and analysis on the factors for CBNRM success and/or failure and their applicability to different contexts and; reluctance by certain actors particularly governments to develop a CBNRM enabling environment e.g. fully devolve natural resources management rights and powers to local communities.

One way of addressing the multitude of challenges is through improved stakeholder collaboration and coordination in addressing these challenges. However, the coordination and collaboration between CBNRM stakeholders has been characterized as temporary, reactive, non-strategic, non holistic (some stakeholder are left out) and adhoc at large. The lack of a national platform for deliberations and joint decision making between multiple actors affect progress and effectiveness of CBNRM programs in achieving sustainable natural resources management and rural development in Tanzania. Realizing this lack of a common platform and following consultations with various local, national, regional and international level stakeholders, the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum (TNRF) is facilitating the process of establishing the Tanzania National CBNRM forum.

CBNRM National Forum

Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF) has begun a process to establish a series of dialogues on Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) with the aim of providing a platform for multi-stakeholder exchange of information and agreeing on a common course for CBNRM success in Tanzania. The platform will help disseminate information on CBNRM success stories, share experiences and promote a greater understanding of the actions and enabling environment on CBNRM that can lead to improved social, economical and environmental benefits.

Southern Africa CBNRM Forum (SACF)

While facilitating engagement at the national level, TNRF is also joining a regional civil society network on CBNRM issues, called Southern Africa CBRM Forum (SACF) whose secretariat is based in Lusaka-Zambia. The ongoing transformation of conservation paradigm from more projects oriented towards high level governance thinking entails the need for dialogue within Tanzania and collaboration with other regional initiatives in order to address natural resources management.

More information on CBNRM