Adaptive co-management has been suggested as one way to enable sustainable management of common pool resources. A knowledge gap exists, however, in how different kinds of co-management structures relate to sustainable resource management and adaptability. Using a network approach we examine the issues of social capital, leadership and traditional knowledge and how these contribute to collective action at the community level. The current social structure of the ≠Khomani Bushmen community, South Africa, was assessed. Overall network cohesion was found to be low, which potentially impedes effective governance, while high fragmentation hampers the possibility of joint action. Individual characteristics, such as gender and ethnicity affect knowledge exchange, while a correlation was found between number of ties to central actors and perceived knowledge of how to use plants sustainably. The study offers insight into how traditional ecological knowledge, social capital and leadership affect possibilities for collective action and co-management of natural resources.