Employment and the rural economy
A significant benefit for many conservancy members is employment, either in tourism or conservancy positions such as game guards, managers and office staff. These jobs did not exist prior to the formation of conservancies and are particularly important for people in rural areas with few other opportunities to earn a cash income.
Conservancies are themselves important job creators, with the majority of jobs usually being filled by local people who no longer have to leave rural areas to seek employment in towns. Local job creation complements stable household and subsistence agriculture activities, thus improving social cohesion. Jobs in tourism represent good career opportunities, as staff can ‘rise through the ranks’ to the level of regional management or beyond, something that a number of people have achieved.
Capacity and skills are built as positions of responsibility are filled by community members in a range of roles including office and natural resource management in tourism and the hunting industry. Rural women are increasingly seen in leadership roles in conservancies, especially in the area of financial management.
Other benefits of community conservation which are less measurable include giving communities a collective voice, the strengthening of common identities and local democracy, and increasing the participation of women in decision-making.
Intangible national benefits include the conservation of wildlife and habitat, and resilience to climate change through diversification of land use. These benefits are difficult to measure, but are substantial in development terms.