Community-managed conservation areas

Photo- A group of Indonesian locals and a ZSL representative, sat in a circle having a discussion.

We are working to empower communities to take a lead role in managing conservation areas, for example, taking decisions about rules for using natural resources, and ensuring everyone sticks to these. This is most feasible in countries that have strong legal frameworks to devolve management rights to local residents, and to enable them to benefit from the resources they manage.

Why does ZSL support community-led conservation area management?

The livelihoods of poor communities living within areas of conservation interest often depend upon those natural resources. However, without careful management, plants and animals can go locally extinct, and the benefits from them will end. Communities can therefore share our interest in ensuring that resources are managed sustainably for future generations. These local communities are best-placed to be guardians of their local resources, and we at ZSL can help with training and research into sustainable management.

Community-managed conservation areas are often protected by community-based patrols, and are often linked to sustainable livelihood initiatives.

Asian tailor sat at a sewing machine

We’re working for a world where wildlife thrives

With your support we can bring wildlife back from the brink of extinction.


On World Pangolin Day 2018, we and our partners announced the establishment of the world's first two Community-Managed Pangolin Conservation Areas, in the Himalayan foothills. These ground-breaking initiatives draw on communities' traditional ecological knowledge, pride in protecting wildlife, and constant presence 'on the ground'. As well as actively patrolling the forest to stop poaching, the community leads coordination and implementation of a wide range of initiatives to support pangolin conservation. Improvements to community livelihoods provide meaningful benefits from conservation, as an alternative to poaching and trafficking.


In Mongolia, local governments manage an important network of local protected areas, with the participation of local communities. At ZSL, we've teamed up with over 400 herder households to establish the new Khoid Mogoin gol-Teel Local Protected Area as a model of community-led management, across 1370 governance frameworks to make democratic decisions on sustainable management of rangeland and forest resources. We've also brought in specialists in these fields to train community members and facilitate knowledge exchange and is monitoring success to guide community-led management into the future.

Two people looking at the mountain landscape


The Philippines is at the forefront of developing community-managed marine protected areas (MPAs), with around 1,600 of these across the Philippine archipelago. Too often, these protected areas are too small to enable fish stocks to recover, but our Net-Works project has successfully prototyped an approach to larger and more effective MPAs that are on average >50 times the national average size. These include 'no-take zones' large enough to replenish fish stocks. We train communities in managing their areas, and establish business models that incentivise and sustain these MPAs.


Our Sea Our Life supports community-run fisheries in northern Mozambique, where unsustainable fishing practices, growing populations and poorly planned infrastructure threaten marine species and habitats. We've helped create community fisheries councils and community banking groups. As well as supporting livelihoods, community banking enables these councils to invest in managing and protecting fish stocks, including bivalve aquaculture and temporary closures for octopus fishing. Where 60% of most households' income is used to buy food, a recovery of fish stocks has a huge impact on wellbeing.

Three men in the water pulling a rope

Photo - Members of a local community in Cameroon, outside around a table, having a discussion

We’re working for a world where wildlife thrives

With your support we can bring wildlife back from the brink of extinction.