The community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is an approach to natural resource conservation that combines objectives with the generation of economic benefits for communities in rural areas. There are three important assumptions that form the basis for this approach: locals in those rural areas do better when it comes to conserving natural resources, the fact that people tend to be willing to conserve a resource if the benefits are more than the costs, and that people would be more than willing to conserve a resource that is directly connected with the quality of their life. When the quality of life of local people has been enhanced, their commitment and efforts to help ensure the future of the resource will consequently be enhanced as well. CBNRM also works on the basis of subsidiarity. CBNRM is advocated by the United Nations through the Convention on biodiversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification.
However, CBNRM still has a problem. It faces difficulty in reconciling and harmonizing objectives such as sustainable resource utilization, biodiversity protection, and socioeconomic development. The possible presence of conflicting interests in CBNRM goes to show that motives behind participation are categorized as either planner-centered or people-centered. Locals could be unwilling to question recommendation from the government out of fear of losing benefits.
CBNRM runs particularly on advocacy by organizations of nongovernmental nature that are working together with communities and groups as well as national and transnational organizations. The collaborative efforts would be dedicated to building and extending new versions of social and environmental advocacy that bring together social justice and agendas of environmental management and possible benefits that include increased pride and identity, diversification of livelihoods, employment, and revenue share. Successes and failures of CBNRM (both ecological and societal) projects are documented. The presence of CBNRM leads to new challenges as concepts (such as indigenousness, conservation, territory, and community) are blended with plans with varied political agendas and programs in disparate sites.
The Australian Government has acknowledged the capacity of indigenous communities to conserve natural resources especially with the formation of Caring for Country Program. The program is an initiative that is administered by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, together with the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage, and the Arts. A research from showed that people in Tanzania and the Pacific are interested in adopting CBNRM for some aspects of the program and the broader context of social-ecological advantages.