Commons case studies: the Guassa-Menz community conservation area in Ethiopia

Recommended by Dr. Andreas Weber:

The Guassa-Menz community conservation area (Ethiopia)is a 400 year+ old grazing commons which helps protecting the world’s most endangered carnivore (Ethiopian Wolf, Canis simensis) in the Ethiopian Highlands.

They write:

“The Guassa area is managed by the Menz community as a common property resource area that can be used for grazing, firewood collection and grass collection. The community continues to protect the area by enacting various byelaws, which restrict community use of the natural resources, without any formal protection status, this indigenous resource management system was structured under an indigenous resource management institution, which has been managing the natural resource for the last 400 years. The community still generally retains ownership and utilise the area and recognise its value in providing vital resources. Grass is still collected for thatching and firewood is also collected, for domestic energy need as well cattle and other livestock are also grazed in the Guassa, which is an important dry season refuge for the livestock of the area. Although the indigenous resource management system was not designed to conserve wildlife, it has certainly allowed the continued co-existence of wildlife with the local community. Also the system has proved its importance as a poverty reduction system by providing the community with natural resources that can be sold and exchanged in the market during times of drought and most of all the livestock of the area survive drought times by migrating to this area and feeding on the lash growth of the highland grass. The Guassa area represents an interesting model of community led natural resource management regime that has operated for many hundreds of years with out fostering the tragedy of the commons. However, as the human population of the region continues to increase, it is important to ensure that the community continues utilise the natural resources sustainably. This will require the empowerment of the community so that they opt for continued sustainable conservation rather than de facto open access.”

informative website /document:

The project is a winner of the Equator Initiative award 2004 (Local sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities), UNDP

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