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Community-Based Management and Conservation in Africa

Trade-Offs and Synergies in Land-Use Decisions in Local Villages


Narcisa G. Pricope
Geography and Geology
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Andrea E. Gaughan
Geography and Geosciences
University of Louisville
Susan C. Caplow
Carolina Population Center
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Niko lives in Namibia and is about to attend a community meeting at which the fate of his family's re-settlement will be decided. He is not sure what would be best for his family; his father does not want to move while his brother is optimistic that the move will improve their lives. How should Niko's community balance their declining rain-fed agricultural production with an increasing need to conserve charismatic megafauna? Niko's situation is used as the basis of a simulation activity in which students are assigned to one of three different African communities faced with a similar relocation decision. Students learn about a complex socio-environmental system from biophysical, socio-economic, and cultural viewpoints and are introduced to the basic governance and management structures characteristic of these communities. The case was created for introductory or mid-level courses in natural resource conservation, wildlife conservation, or environmental sociology, but it may also be appropriate for various geography courses and seminars. A PowerPoint file (which includes a link to a video with background information) is included as supplementary, supporting material.


  • Analyze a complex local issue from an integrated socio-environmental perspective.
  • Understand that decisions and actions at different scales affect outcomes in remote, small villages in southern Africa.
  • Examine trade-offs and synergies between development and conservation in lesser-developed nations.
  • Use data and information from disparate points of view to inform decision-making.
  • Understand different cultural perceptions of natural resources.


Community-based natural resource management; human-environment interactions; conservation; development; land use; regional ecosystems; biodiversity; sub-Saharan; Namibia; Africa

Topical Areas

Policy issues, Social issues

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division


PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Interrupted



Subject Headings

Natural Resource Management  |   Wildlife Management  |   Geography  |   Ecology  |   Sociology  |   Economics  |   Interdisciplinary Sciences  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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Supplemental Materials

A PowerPoint file with background information on the Kavango-Zambezi Conservation Transfrontier Area (KAZA) is available as supporting material for the case study. The PPT also includes a link to a video (made by some of the authors of the case) that provides a visual introduction to the area.

  PowerPoint presentation for "Community-Based Management and Conservation in Africa"

Answer Key

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