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Rhodes University (2021)

Biodiversity conservation of South Africa’s Wild Coast through the years : Exploring the tensions between western-style and local traditional conservation practices

De Villiers, Deon Johan

Titre : Biodiversity conservation of South Africa’s Wild Coast through the years : Exploring the tensions between western-style and local traditional conservation practices

Auteur : De Villiers, Deon Johan

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2021

Résumé partiel
The Transkei Wild Coast is a unique and diverse biophysical environment stretching some 280 kilometres between the Great Kei and Mtamvuna Rivers along South Africa’s eastern coastline. Its extensive indigenous forests were recognised for their biological and economic importance by the colonial government and granted protection from the late 1800s, with forced removal of indigenous people who resided within them. The state restricted and controlled the utilisation of the forest resources, particularly by Black people, through promulgation and enforcement of legislation. Similar conservation methods were employed for protection of the Wild Coast’s soils, grasslands and marine resources, usually without any consultation with local Black leadership or communities who relied upon these resources. Previous studies have focussed on the impacts of Western-style conservation legislation and the promulgation of protected areas on local people. These have suggested that local communities have been denied access to natural resources through a fences and fines approach, often accompanied by heavy-handed, strict law enforcement measures. Very little research has been conducted to document the actual reasons for and the history of conservation efforts along the Wild Coast. The aim of this study was to explore the history of natural resource management and conservation along the Wild Coast from a Western and African perspective, and to examine the conflicts that have arisen as a result thereof. The importance of utilisation of natural resources to sustain livelihoods and the conservation methods applied to protect these resources were examined, mainly by means of a literature review and face-to-face interviews with local traditional leaders and environmental managers. The successes, challenges and conflicts that resulted from conservation efforts were examined through detailed analysis of the conservation history of three case study areas : Dwesa-Cwebe, Hluleka and Mkambati nature reserves. The study concludes that traditional leaders, foresters and conservation managers have largely been ignored during previous research on management and conservation of the Wild Coast ; however, they were very eager to express their views on this subject. The interviews revealed that traditional leaders and conservationists from each case study area want to protect the Wild Coast and its natural resources, albeit for different reasons. Conservationists recognise the importance of the region’s biodiversity and the need for protected areas, particularly where there is rich endemism such as at Mkambati and Dwesa-Cwebe. Traditional leaders recognise the potential for jobs for their people where protected areas preserve the aesthetic beauty of the coast and attract tourists. For them, employment opportunities are a priority, as is access to utilisation of natural resources to sustain livelihoods. The traditional customs and culture of the people living along the Wild Coast are also seen as being of critical importance. This has not been adequately considered by past conservation planners and managers, but traditional leaders express value in conserving the amaXhosa and amaMpondo way of life.

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Page publiée le 14 janvier 2023