John Kasaona is a pioneer of community-based conservation -- working with the people who use and live on fragile land to enlist them in protecting it.
John Kasaona is a leader in the drive to reinvent conservation in Namibia -- turning poachers into protectors of species. It’s a standard nature-documentary scenario: a pristine animal habitat under constant threat by the people who live there, hunting, camping, setting fires. But John Kasaona knows there is a better way to see this relationship between people and environment. As the assistant director for the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) , Kasaona works on ways to improve the lives of rural people in Namibia by involving them in the management of the lands they live on -- and the species that live there with them.
Kasanoa's Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) program helps rural villages set up communal conservancies, which manage and use local natural resources in a sustainable manner. Essentially, it's about restoring the balance of land and people to that of pre-colonial times, and allowing the people with the most interest in the survival of their environment to have control of it. His work was featured in the recent film Milking the Rhino.
The World Wildlife Fund has set up a portal for TEDsters to help in John Kasaona's work. Learn more >>
"Our attitude is important. If we pretend to be concerned and helpful but still see the community next to a conservation area as a threat, conservation won't work."John Kasanoa
“I like that one: Namibia serving as a model to Africa, and Africa serving as a model to the United States.”
“The whites [in Namibia] could farm, graze and hunt as they wished, but we black, we were not regarded as responsible to use wildlife. Whenever we tried to hunt, we were called poachers.”
“We were successful in Namibia because we dreamed of a future that was much more than just a healthy wildlife.”