The Institutional Canopy of Conservation

This project aims to conserve East Africa's rich biodiversity by strengthening local livelihoods through community-based conservation programs. Initiatives such as improved access rights to natural resources, income diversification, and green economic development (ecotourism, for example) will help East Africans advance conservation efforts and create opportunities.

Community-based conservation in Africa
The project will identify the most effective designs for community-based conservation programs by studying the impact of a range of conservancy experiments on local livelihoods, attitudes, and natural resource practices. Its findings will address critical public policy issues regarding communities' rights and responsibilities in collaborative natural resource management.

The project will focus on the rangelands, wetlands, and forests of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. This region has the richest concentration of biodiversity and wildlife in Africa.

Sustaining wildlife populations
Pastoralists and customary hunter-foragers in the region are crucial to sustaining wildlife populations threatened by land use changes, range fragmentation, poaching, and loss of grasslands, wetlands, and forests. The largely marginalized communities also depend on these valuable resources.

Research has shown that the most effective strategy for sustaining biodiversity around and beyond parks involves strong community engagement that links livelihoods and aspirations to conservation benefits. The project will take a knowledge-action approach to engaging communities, their partnering institutions, and local populations in the study and evaluation processes.

Project activities
Specifically, the project team will:
-identify the most effective designs for community-based conservation programs;
-understand how institutions influence those programs;
-track the organizations involved in conservation at all levels;
-develop conservation and green growth models based on property rights and incentive systems;
-improve local and national conservation practices in collaborative natural resource management; and
-support 11 students (post-doctoral, PhD, and Master's) from East Africa in collaborating with Canadian and European peers.

Project participants
The International Partnerships for Sustainable Societies program provided funding for this project. The African Conservation Centre is leading the East African team, which is largely supported by IDRC. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada is providing support to the Canadian team led by McGill University.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


84 months

IDRC Officer

David O'Brien

Total funding

CA$ 2,600,000


Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Canada, North of Sahara, South of Sahara


International Partnerships for Sustainable Societies

Project Leader

David Western

Project Leader

Lucy Waruingi


African Conservation Centre

Institution Country