Creating collective socio-ecological learning spaces for transformative learning and custodianship building in natural resource management practices

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Reuben Thifhulufhelwi

Publication Date:

Over two decades ago, the South African government created the Working for Water (WfW) programme, which is the largest of all restoration programmes in the country. WfW objectives were to restore ecological infrastructure through clearing of invasive alien plants and jobs creation for unemployed citizens. There was no explicit focus on institutionalization of these ecological restoration programmes within local landowners and catchment residents. Furthermore, there was a lack of scope for capacity development to build custodianship for marginalized communities to be actively involved in management of restoration programmes such as WfW. This paper shares insight from the Blyde Restoration project (BRP) located in the Blyde catchment, Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. The BRP project was aimed at building capacity development for custodianship and collaborative management of ecological restoration projects by managers and local catchment residents. The paper demonstrates how systemic social learning approaches can be used as a methodological approach to support the emergence of transformative learning and collective capacity for restoration and protection of ecological infrastructure. The paper argues that deliberate creation of socio-ecological learning spaces, through co-inquiry processes can support resilient restoration practices and strengthen custodianship building for landowners and users who still view the restoration programmes such as WfW sorely as job creation projects. In conclusion, the paper argues that restoration practices should be everyone’s problem, not just the government’s responsibility. And this requires substantial efforts to be focused on transformative learning approaches which are systemic and dialectical, in order to achieve integrated natural resource management practices.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration