Conservationists have adopted community-based conservation (CBC) strategies to support landscape conservation programmes in East Africa, and these projects often involve community development assistance in exchange for a commitment to dedicating a portion of community lands for conservation management. There is, however, a dearth of empirical evidence assessing the effectiveness of CBC conservation programmes. This paper uses sub-metre-resolution satellite imagery to measure land-use change on four Kenyan group ranches that had created CBCs. Each ranch underwent a common participatory planning process that established a land-use plan involving three management zones: conservation, livestock grazing and settlement/cultivation. Using a satellite image time series, we recorded threat-based development – anthropogenic modification of natural areas and the density of structures – for each ranch. We found that CBCs with tourism lodges were more effective at controlling development than the CBCs without a lodge, particularly in the conservation zones and, to a lesser degree, in the grazing zones. We conclude that our use of very-high-resolution satellite imagery offers conservationists a cost-effective, fast and replicable approach to measuring CBC land-use change and that CBC projects can lead to positive conservation results.