Establishment of community-based organizations (CBOs)

Establishing a CBO is the step between the FPA process and signing a Conservation Agreements. CBOs are created with ECF’s guidance and are responsible for:

i) securing and implementing a Conservation Agreement

ii) the fair and equitable distribution of benefits among the community

iii) acting as the legal entity representing the community in a Conservation Agreement.

CBOs are formed under the national law that is appropriate to its purpose, country and region. If creating a CBO is not possible, an NGO can act as a CBO in the Conservation Agreement. 


To establish a CBO requires the local community to make a long-term commitment to cooperation and take responsibility for conservation actions. In this way the CBO contributes to strengthening the social capital and increasing sustainable land-use practices. CBO’s help build community connectedness, communication and resilience related to nature conservation efforts. CBOs are encouraged to consider biodiversity as part of the local economy and work closely with ECF toagree on sustainable land-use. CBOs are encouraged to seek other sources of funding for community projects and to develop their activities as a sustainable business during the implementation period of the Conservation Agreement. 

  1. Self-organisation of communities is initiated or strengthened through the FPA 
  2. Negotiation of terms with representatives of the community to provide a clear, long-term Conservation Agreement 
  3. Dialogue, negotiation and involvement with all segments of the community: elders, decision makers, influential community members, women and youth
  4. Identify and include all user groups within a community: herders, farmers, hunters, healers
  5. Involvement of local authorities (i.e.forest department)
  6. Strategic engagement with institutions at regional and national levels 
  • Lack of community level governance, lack of environmental awareness and negative wildlife interactions required education/community awareness campaigns.
  • Small, locally-led projects encourage community capacity building, communication and implementation of conservation strategies.
  • Establishment of CBOs represents FPA progress and a qualitative improvement in terms of local self-organisation.
  • Do not impose an organisation model on the local community; decide on a model together.
  • Capacity building related to management and governance of CBOs is critical to secure initial success and reduce dependence on external support.
  • Involvement of the CBO with acquisition and organization of baseline information on livelihood-related issues, natural resources and land-use secures relevant information and contributes to CBO’s capacity building.
  • Accepting community members’ views when designing project goals ensures project serves entire community.
  • Involvement of local governments link the applications of ecosystem-based management to larger themes like climate change and disaster risk reduction.