International Journal of the Commons 11(2): 969–991. DOI: 10.18352/ijc.792.
Abstract: Community-based management (CBM) has attracted much interest as a conservation and development strategy in natural resource-dependent communities in recent decades. However, most initiatives fail to achieve both objectives. The most analyzed CBM strategies in the literature include donor- and government- driven initiatives, but other types exist as well. The research objective was to identify the internal and external factors that influence the trade-offs between conservation and development in three internally driven CBM initiatives in Latin America: a long-term indigenous-based conservation strategy, the constitutional recognition of ancestral land rights of Afro-American communities and artisanal fisheries management. The results showed that livelihoods depend on natural resources, but none of the cases identified a balance between conservation and development. Community activities are not the primary cause of natural resource degradation. Conservation is supported by ethnicity and cultural values and is challenged by current development models and worldviews that push intensification of resource use and by power asymmetries. Internal pressures include limited rule compliance and enforcement authority to stop free-riding and unauthorized activities. Internal challenges for development include the lack of capacities, rigid rules and non-inclusive CBM, and the inertia and risk aversion that prevail in many communities. External challenges include the lack of economic incentives and compensation models that enable welfare opportunities linked to sustainable management.