The effect of a community based natural resource management (CBNRM) programme on the capacity of the KwaPitela community in Underberg to manage its natural resources for sustainable use.
Nxumalo, Nokulunga Promise.
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Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programmes are implemented to ensure sustainable use and protection of the environment through appropriate capacity enhancement and empowerment mechanisms. CBNRM is an approach that has multiple objectives, such as enhancing the capacity, of communities to manage resources sustainably, and creating employment opportunities to enhance livelihoods of the communities. CBNRM programmes are implemented in South Africa by different government departments and organisations to achieve these objectives. Despite such interventions, communities often display insufficient knowledge and capacity necessary for effective participation in addressing natural resource management issues. The main objective of this study was to establish the effect of a CBNRM programme on the capacity of the KwaPitela community to manage natural resources for sustainable use. To address the main objective of this study, three sub-objectives were identified: firstly, to determine the community members’ ability to apply skills and knowledge in the management of natural resources for sustainable use; secondly to determine the community’s ability to participate with different stakeholders in the management of natural resources; and thirdly determine the community’s ability to make decisions about the management of natural resources for sustainable use. A basic qualitative research design was used and data collection methods included semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Selected documents were analysed to confirm specific aspects of the qualitative data. The participants of this study were the KwaPitela development committee, members of the community, and stakeholders mandated to equip the KwaPitela community in CBNRM competencies. Regarding the first sub-objective it was evident that the development committee can apply planning, networking, and leadership skills as a result of the CBNRM programme. The development committee and members involved in the harvesting of natural resources displayed knowledge related to invasive alien species, legislative processes, and the importance of natural resources as an essential for their livelihood. These skills and knowledge were, however, not applied by the community members who were not involved in natural resource management and leadership processes. The development committee and members of the community are still in need of further skills and knowledge, for example entrepreneurship skills and knowledge on how to sustain projects, in order to successfully implement the land use management plan, as developed during the CBNRM programme. Meeting the second sub-objective, it was evident that the development committee had the capability to facilitate participation with stakeholders, but the development committee felt that they were not getting enough support from the stakeholders. In assessing the third subobjective, it became evident that the development committee was able to make well - informed decisions in natural resource management, but they lacked the ability to influence and implement the decisions taken.