Celebrating Community-Led Conservation at Kenya’s Northern Rangelands Trust


On April 3, National Geographic hosted a discussion and screening for Kenya's USAID-supported Northern Rangelands Trust. CEO Tom Lalampaa spoke about how community-based conservancies are reshaping the conservation paradigm, not just in Kenya but across Africa.

As part of National Geographic's mission of driving toward a planet in balance, the Society created Last Wild Places (LWP), a decade-long initiative to help protect the places that sustain life on Earth. LWP has partnered with Kenya’s Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) to support its community-led conservation approach, which is transforming the role of indigenous communities in advancing a sustainable future for people and wildlife. LWP supports the organization by capturing best practices, amplifying the scale of NRT’s efforts, and jointly developing and sharing tools, technology, and training that will greatly increase the impact of the broader conservation sector.

LWP is working toward a goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet by 2030. This ambitious goal is the centerpiece of the Campaign for Nature, a partnership between the Wyss Foundation and National Geographic that aims to inspire world leaders to adopt this ambitious target as part of a Global Deal for Nature.

NRT is an umbrella organization for community conservancies across northern Kenya and supports them by providing guidance on wildlife conservation and protection, rangeland management, governance training, and community economic development. Community conservancies are community-led practices of conservation management outside of national protected areas. In Kenya, they represent the best model for community governance and conflict resolution leading to significant reductions in poaching and increases in peace-building and economic opportunity.

To amplify the scale of NRT’s efforts, National Geographic hosted an event on April 3 that—for the first time on a global stage—gave voice to the northern pastoralist communities of Kenya. NRT CEO Tom Lalampaa spoke about the importance of community-based conservancies, how they are reshaping the conservation paradigm not just in Kenya, but across Africa, and how this model is the best chance of averting a massive decline in wildlife populations.

NRT is an exceptional example of how community conservancies can help both wildlife and people thrive. Through the leadership of Lalampaa’s team, NRT has produced enduring conservation solutions designed by local communities who want to protect their lands and resources for future generations. This model can be scaled around the globe, and will be key to protecting 30 percent of the planet by 2030. As NRT has demonstrated, a community in balance leads to a planet in balance.

National Geographic filmmaker Pete McBride showed a preview of his series of short films, funded by USAID, highlighting the work of NRT and local community members. The event concluded with a panel discussion with NRT leadership including Lalampaa, NRT Board Chairman Hon. Mohamed Elmi, NRT Board Vice Chair Hon. Abshiro Halake, NRT West Regional Director Rebecca Kochulem, and NRT BeadWORKS Productions Manager Beatrice Lemparia, with BBC host Katty Kay serving as moderator.

This event was hosted in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, USAID, and the Wyss Foundation in support of the Campaign for Nature. These organizations are current funders and strategic partners of NRT and were represented by members of their leadership team including Julie Koenen, deputy assistant administrator for USAID’s Africa Bureau, Matt Brown, regional managing director for Africa at The Nature Conservancy, and Andrew French, conservation policy program manager at the Wyss Foundation.

Watch the event recording below, and learn more about USAID's work with the Northern Rangelands Trust.

This post originally appeared on National Geographic's blog and is re-posted here with permission.