BOX 3.2 HOW COMMUNITY-BASED RESOURCE MANAGEMENT CAN BENEFIT THE POOR
Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is one of the most important manifestations of true decentralization as it relates to control of rural resources. CBNRM programs, if successful, can be models of local empowerment, imbuing communities with greater authority over the use of natural resources. Under the right circumstances, they can also bring important benefits to poor people and poor communities
In many countries, community-based management of forests and other natural resources has improved livelihoods for the poor. The benefits of CBNRM can range from job creation to substantial management rights and long-term revenue-generation. For instance, in Nepal, community management of forests has created new jobs, including nursery staff and forest watchers, as well as wage labor for tree planting and weeding (Malla 2000:41). Community forestry concessions along the borders of the Mayan Biosphere reserve in Guatemala have generated more than 100,000 days of labor per year (Cortave 2004:26).
Where high-value resources such as timber are involved, CBNRM can generate significant revenues. A large forestry project in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh earns an estimated $125 million per year for the communities involved, through sales of sustainably harvested timber and non-timber forest products (Shilling and Osha 2003:13).
Improved Resource Condition
A crucial element of community-based management is its potential to improve the condition of the resources being managed. The Krui people of southwestern Sumatra have practiced a complex form of agroforestry for generations, planting a succession of crops that culminate in a full forest canopy. Their agroforests support about ten times more biodiversity than conventional palm plantations in the area, and have economic uses ranging from resin tapping to timber sales (ASB 2001:1-2).
In northeastern India, the Khasi School of Medicine and others are working to re-establish traditional laws and practices of forest management to safeguard sacred groves of medicinal plants, which had been depleted under centralized management of the resource since the 1950s (Varshney 2003:46). In 1996 the Guatemalan government began awarding forest management concessions to settler communities living on the borders of the two million-hectare Mayan biosphere reserve in the lowland Pet