Almost all roads lead to co-management: did local contexts matter? – the case of liwonde national park in malawi
Co-management of natural resources was rooted in common-pool resource design principles in which community participation is a major pillar. Currently, the concept replaced the exclusionary policy discourse that underlaid establishment of protected areas including national parks. However, its ascendancy was misconceived as a panacea for all conservation challenges. In Malawi, the Wildlife Policy of 2000 imposed co-management on all national parks in a way that might neglect contexts. This qualitative research applied the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework to examine the role of local conditions in the trajectory of co-management implementation in Liwonde National Park. Based on official documentations and expert interviews, it found that although the top-down policy was guided by universal principles, the implementation was influenced by attributes of the resources, local communities and rules in use. The findings underscore that to be able to deliver meaningful biodiversity and livelihoods goals both in the short and long term co-management needs to account for contexts of local arenas.
Keywords— Biodiversity, Common-pool resources, Community-based management, Livelihoods, Sustainable national parks, Wildlife conservation.