CO-MANAGING SOUTH AFRICA’S CONSERVATION AND LAND REFORM AGENDAS: EVALUATING RECENT GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES TO RESOLVE THE UNRULY INTERFACE THRUST UPON SOUTH AFRICA’S PROTECTED AREAS

 

Alexander Paterson

University of Cape Town

 

Abstract: It was almost twenty years ago in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, that the Convention on Biological Diversity entered the international environmental legal landscape. Ever since, South Africa’s policy-makers have sought to give domestic effect to its three fundamental tenets, namely: conservation; sustainable use; and the equitable sharing of benefits derived from such use. South Africa’s track record in this regard is fairly good. We have seen the publication of a diverse range of relevant conservation policies and planning frameworks. We have furthermore witnessed the promulgation of a plethora of new national and provincial laws governing all things biological. The past two decades has also witnessed South Africa’s policy-makers grappling with implementing the country’s land reform programme with a view to addressing the injustices of historic racially-based land dispossession, inequitable distribution of land ownership and tenure insecurity. This has similarly occasioned the promulgation of a plethora of land reform policies, programmes and laws. What is somewhat disconcerting is that these two legal domains, conservation and land reform, have for the bulk of the past two decades operated in virtual isolation of each other. It is only in the past few years that conservation and land reform authorities have come to recognise the integral link between the two, a link which is often fraught with conflict and which frequently plays out in the context of Protected Areas. This paper seeks to explore this often-troubled nexus and the array of domestic developments through which the authorities have sought to traverse it. These developments most importantly include the Memorandum of Agreement concluded between the erstwhile Minister of Land Affairs and Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in 2007, and the National Co-Management Framework launched in late 2010. The paper critically reflects on these developments and the extent to which they provide more effective and equitable solutions for traversing the troubled divide in the context of Protected Areas. It furthermore considers the extent to which they reflect contemporary developments in the international conservation discourse, particularly those relating to Protected Areas governance.

 

Presentation Topic:

CO-MANAGING SOUTH AFRICA’S CONSERVATION AND LAND REFORM AGENDAS: EVALUATING RECENT GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES TO RESOLVE THE UNRULY INTERFACE THRUST UPON SOUTH AFRICA’S PROTECTED AREAS

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