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To address the challenge of conserving biodiversity outside of protected areas, conservation organizations are assessing the range of land and natural resource-use management tools, especially on community-land, to achieve biodiversity conservation. Among these tools are zoning, long-term land leases, voluntary easements, measures to secure tenure, and land purchases. The application of these new tools on community land depends in large measure on the law and practice of land tenure and natural resource property rights in the individual countries. ABCG organizations are working to advance the use of new land tools for biodiversity conservation and local development purposes on land outside the protected areas in Kenya and Tanzania. This work is supported by the US Agency for International DevelopmentsBiodiversity Analysis and Technical Support (BATS) Program of its Africa Bureau.

Activities & Achievements

FY2014 Accomplishments and Outcomes

The overall goal for this task is to promote sound governance and rights-based access to natural resources. Specifically, the task strives to promote land and resource rights of local people, sharing benefits, engaging civil society, building capacity, ensuring stakeholder access to information and decision-making processes, empowering women, undertaking multi-sectoral approaches and partnerships, and promoting sound policy at all levels.

In FY2014, the African Wildlife Foundation continued developing models for community-level wildlife conservancies in Zimbabwe. Among other results, AWF generated a final report, titled ‘Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority: Commercial Revenue Model Assessment‘, presenting recommendations for legal structures and agreements.

The Jane Goodall Institute facilitated communities in developing general management plans for two Local Authority Forestry Reserves (LAFRs) in Tanzania, including training sessions presented in the report ‘How to Establish Participatory Forest Management‘, to mention but one; the LAFRs had been created in FY2013 with funds from USAID’s Tanzania Mission.

The Nature Conservancy’s efforts saw the creation of a conservation management steering committee for Tanzania’s Greater Katavi–Mahale–Gombe Ecosystem region; and supporting the development of a strategic plan titled ‘Long-term Strategic Plan for Greater Mahale Gombe Katavi Ecosystem‘.

The World Resources Institute produced three short animated videos to reach a broader audience, and reflecting much of what Task C members have recently generated, such as ‘A Farmer in Africa: Overlapping Property Rights‘.

Find much more output reported in the Annual Report. Additionally, a number of pending activities will be completed by the end of the agreement. AWF will implement and, it is hoped, operationalize Zimbabwe’s first wholly community-owned wildlife conservancy—the latter contingent on outside monies. JGI will create maps of high-biodiversity areas in the LAFRs for conservation prioritization. WRI will produce a fourth video, and a fifth after the award’s completion.

FY2013 Accomplishments and Outcomes

In the past year, ABCG member organizations including AWF, JGI, TNC and WRI continued to collaborate on reviewing land tenure issues in key countries including Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe; organized village sensitization meetings and implemented land use tenure actions; conducted research on compensation for property losses for private land-use restrictions in several countries; and developed a new benefit-sharing business model in communal conservancy areas. The following is a selection of task accomplishments.

AWF continued to focus on improving understanding of the evolution of tenure relationships in Zimbabwe as part of the indigenization process. Efforts were focus on developing a working model and pilot restructuring for conservancies. Read the summary Report on: A Proposed Business Model for a Conservation Based Property in a Conservancy in Zimbabwe.

TNC collaborated with JGI and Frankfurt Zoological Society to launch the Greater Mahale Ecosystem (GME) Steering Committee, which will among others coordinate the development of an Integrated Management Plan for the GME and advance conservation of priority areas within the GME. The TNC report, Steps towards Implementing the Tongwe West District Authority Reserve for Mpanda District Council provides more details on the launch of this steering committee in June, participants, as well as it’s intended objectives.

A three-day meeting was held in Kigoma to review the Terms of Reference of the steering committee [Terms of Reference for the Greater Katavi Mahale Gombe Ecosystem Conservation Technical Team] and incorporate the comments from the regional and district leaders that were provided during the inauguration of the steering committee in June [Report on the Exercise of Establishing a Local Authority Forest Reserve for the District of Mpanda]

WRI conducted research on compensation for property losses from private land-use restrictions. The research focused on the law and practice of land-use restrictions in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. It compared the findings from Africa with compensation principles in the U.S.(Compensation for Land Use Restrictions – Kenya, Uganda and Zambia, in Comparison to the United States of America) A written report was prepared that captures the data, findings and recommendations [to be published soon]. WRI also finalized a research report that captures the main findings and recommendations from our research on overlapping land and natural resource rights (Overlapping Land and Natural Resource Property Rights: A Comparative Analysis from Africa). The report was submitted to the April 2013 World Bank Land and Poverty Conference and is also available on the web (

Peter Veit of WRI delivered a PowerPoint presentation at the annual 2013 World Bank Land and Poverty Conference in Washington, DC in April 2013. The presentation focused on the findings and recommendations of WRI’s research on overlapping land and natural resource rights (Overlapping Land and Natural Resource Property Rights: A Comparative Analysis from Africa). Gaia Larsen of WRI made a similar presentation titled Overlapping Land and Natural Resource Rights in Africa at the International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) conference in Baltimore, MD in July 2013 (Overlapping Land and Resource Rights in Africa). In addition, WRI developed a short, animated video on private land-use restrictions—A Farmer in Africa: Property Rights. The video was ranked No.1 by GRIST—“26 Food Films you have to Watch” (

Land Use FY2012 Accomplishments and Outcomes

In the past year, ABCG member organizations including AWF, JGI, TNC and WRI have collaborated to review land tenure issues in key countries including Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe; analyzed communal conservancies and related strategies in several countries; and examined the law and practice of private land-use restrictions and assessed their usefulness in achieving biodiversity conservation outside the protected estate. Much progress has been achieved in illuminating land use constraints, and uncovering opportunities for intervention as a first step in tackling poverty, biodiversity loss and conflict resolution. This paves the way to helping communities and governments at all levels implement a knowledge-based strategy integrating biodiversity conservation into local, regional and national development plans. Key results from the below activites were shared in an ABCG Thematic Meeting on October 2, 2012.

Development of Integrated Management Plan for the Greater Mahale Ecosystem (GME), Tanzania (JGI & TNC)

ABCG members the Jane Goodall Institute and The Nature Conservancy are working together with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) to assist local governments and citizen in general land management planning in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem of Western Tanzania.Land Tenure in Greater Mahale Ecosystem, Tanzania

  • Land Use Planning workshop with Kigoma and Mpanda District stakeholders
  • Development of general land use plan maps
  • Mapping: Maps were developed using satellite imagery to identify deforestation rates from 2001 to 2007 and 2011. Information from biodiversity surveys in the region and mapping species distribution (funded through USFWS) and from on the ground data collectors (forest monitors), was incorporated into the maps. Maps showing forests identified as priority conservation areas within the general land were developed using satellite imagery to identify deforestation rates from 2001 to 2007 and 2011 and used during the general management plan workshop. We integrated findings from regional biodiversity surveys funded through USFWS, and incorporated information collected from forest monitors patrolling the forests.

Conservation Business Model Development (AWF)
With support from USAIDs BATS program, ABCG member AWF developed a proposed business model to be used by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to achieve tourism sustainability in its Parks, using Hwange National Park in Northwestern Zimbabwe as the pilot area.

AWF has also developed a business model to pilot application of the indigenization of the wildlife sector focused on the Save Conservancy in Zimbabwes Southeast Lowveld which has been the center of controversy between government, local communities and private land owners. This will include valuation, zoning and community engagement. The model will be presented to the relevant ministry for review and endorsement. Information and data was collected through site visits, discussions with key partner (i.e. Conservancy members and staff, ZPWMA staff), economic valuations, and community engagement using AWF staff directly and commissioned consultancy. Several high level meetings were held between AWF Senior Program staff led by the AWF President and ZPWMA management, board of trustees, the Minister, USAID Mission & other donors, and partners in Zimbabwe to discuss the findings. By the end of the year, a Report of Study and Recommended Model for Piloting was completed and is being finalized for presentation to the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management to endorse recommended course of action.

Research on Overlapping Land and Natural Resource Property Rights (WRI)
In many African countries, most land and natural resources are either the property of the state or are public resources vested in or held in trust by the government for the people. While the state may be the owner, rights of access, control, transfer and exclusionthe bundle of property rightsare held under customary tenure arrangements or grants by the state under formal law for land and various natural resources on or below the land (e.g., minerals, oil, natural gas, water, trees, and wildlife). Under formal law, these property rights regimes are separate and distinct. The rights to land often include only surface rights and not rights to these natural resources. As a result, different individuals or institutions may hold surface and natural resource rights on the same plot of land.

While considerable attention has focused on protecting against overlapping land (surface) rights, less attention has focused on reconciling overlapping surface and natural resource rights. Conflict can arise when the various holders of surface and natural resource rights on the same piece of land seek to exercise their rights in ways that contradict each other. For example, when the holder of surface rights wishes to farm the land, while the holder of mineral rights wants to mine, or the holder of tree rights wishes to log the forest, while the holder of wildlife rights wants to manage the forest for game viewing. Security in land is weakened when the holders of natural resource rights are legally empowered to limit or restrict the surface rights held by others.

In most African countries, the property rights regime for land and various natural resources are established and governed by different laws, and implemented principally by different government agencies. For example, land laws provide for surface property rights and sectoral laws (e.g., mineral, petroleum, forest, wildlife, water and other natural resources) establish the property rights regime for the various natural resources. While the land laws are generally silent on the exercise of natural resource rights on land in which surface rights are held by an individual, many natural resource laws provide for the rights and obligations of natural resource and surface rights holders. For example, the mineral laws often establish the authorities that holders of mineral rights have to enter onto land (surface rights) held by another individual, and the procedures to exercise their mineral rights. Many mineral laws also provide for some roles and responsibilities of surface rights holders regarding the exercise of mineral rights.

WRIs research focuses on the laws that govern land and natural resource property rights and the implications for the holder of the land (surface) rights. The review of laws included petroleum, minerals and trees/forests in six African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. WRI is developing a series of recommendations designed to reduce conflict and promote development, including harmonizing legislation and promoting more coordination across the government agencies responsible for implementing the laws. The full report will be completed in FY2013.