Lewa is home to the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), an innovative partnership with communities who have set land aside for wildlife conservation. It provides support to local regions through projects geared towards improving livelihoods and alleviating poverty. Lewa was instrumental in creating the NRT, which has increased the amount of land under integrated conservation management from the original 26,000 acres to now almost 2 million. This has allowed wildlife to begin to migrate once again throughout their historical natural range.
NRT was registered in 2004. NRT's members represent politically and socially marginalized pastoralist communities of northern Kenya, who are predominantly dependent on a purely livestock-based livelihood system. The NRT was established by communities and other stakeholders involved in biodiversity conservation in northern Kenya, recognising a need for an umbrella organisation that would assist communities to use biodiversity conservation and improved environmental management as a means of improving and diversifying livelihoods.
The NRT acts as a catalyst for development of community-based conservation initiatives and is currently working with 29 community conservancies in Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit and Baringo/East Pokot and Ijara districts (Fig.1), covering an area of more than 5,000km2. The role of the NRT is to develop the capacity and self-sufficiency of its constituent community organizations in biodiversity conservation, natural resource management and natural resource based enterprises.