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University of Manitoba Canada (2008)

Community-based conservation and protected areas in Namibia : social-ecological linkages for biodiversity

Hoole, Arthur

Titre : Community-based conservation and protected areas in Namibia : social-ecological linkages for biodiversity

Auteur : Hoole, Arthur

Université de soutenance : University of Manitoba

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2008

This study investigates the premise that national park designations and management in Southern Africa decoupled indigenous communities from their local ecosystems. The research explores ways and means to recouple communities and national parks to promote biodiversity. The relationships are characterized between Namibia’s community-based resource management program (CBNRM), conservancies, and protected areas system, with particular reference to the Ehi-rovipuka Conservancy and Etosha National Park in northern Namibia. This is a sparsely populated, arid region, marked by recurrent drought, a stunning wildlife spectacle, and ethnically diverse, communal area villages. The nature and consequences of decoupled social-ecological systems between community and national park are elucidated. Institutional linkages and interplay are identified and described in and between community-based conservation and national parks. Alternative approaches are suggested to the strict protection regimes that typify IUCN Category II National Parks. A qualitative research approach is employed, featuring a case study and several different and interrelated methods of data collection and analysis. Fieldwork in Namibia was completed over a 6 month period. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 51 different key informants representing a cross-section of NGOs, private enterprise, international donors, Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, communities and conservancies. Structured interviews were conducted in the case study community of Otjokavare with 40 Herero villagers in the Otjiherero language, employing a community interpreter and field assistant. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methods were also employed, including participant observation, memory mapping by 3 village elders, local knowledge mapping by 6 village men and women, and a national park and conservation awareness exercise by 34 Grade 7 pupils at the community primary school. Field research findings were supplemented and triangulated with park and wildlife legislative and policy analyses, as well as the extensive study of regional literature and data sources. Findings reveal an historic and systemic decoupling of social and ecological linkages by national parks in Southern Africa. Colonial wildlife and protected areas legislation, policies and management practice decoupled indigenous peoples from places and resources they traditionally occupied and used in protected areas, iv criminalizing their use of wildlife. The separate removals of Hai||om Bushman and Herero communities from Etosha National Park by central government are presented as compelling examples. Herero elders in Otjokavare shared their memories in narratives and maps, telling a story of forced relocation from and denied return to their ancestral place in the park. Namibia’s CBNRM program and the creation of conservancies on communal lands have recently devolved rights in wildlife to communal area villagers, fostering institutions for community-based conservation. This has been an evolutionary process spanning a 25 year period. Institutional interplay, multiple level linkages and partnerships have proven to be important in this process. Dense social networks of national NGOs, working in support of communal conservancies, and mediating international donor funding, are especially noteworthy. But, partnerships and supportive networks in community-based conservation do not yet bridge the gap between communities and national parks, which still emphasize a command-and-control approach to wildlife management. Villagers of the Ehi-rovipuka Conservancy identify a range of prospective benefits they would like to enjoy from living next to the Etosha National Park. These are then portrayed as potential mechanisms in a model for recoupling social-ecological linkages between communities and national parks. Key attributes of community and natural resources are suggested for effective monitoring, as are incentives and sanctions, to achieve biodiversity and sustainable development outcomes. Dynamic and mobile community-conserved areas, integrated conservation corridors, integrated communityconserved areas and state protected areas are envisioned within a collaborative, adaptive and wide area landscape approach to biodiversity conservation. These represent alternatives to the strict protection regimes of IUCN Category II National Parks, emphasizing ‘community’ and community-based conservation, in contrast to typologies of park and protected area.


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