Resources, restoration, rights, relevance and resilience: The role of facilitating access to natural resources from within a protected area, South Africa

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Louise Swemmer

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Natural resource use from protected areas is controversial globally, due to conflicting value systems and perceptions of the role of conservation (what is nature and who is it for) including disputes on defining ecological sustainability criteria. Conservation approaches have transformed from being exclusionary to using an integrated socio-ecological lens, and this has been supported by international and national policies and legislation. The South African National Parks (SANParks) Resource Use policy (2011), and the Kruger National Park (KNP) Resource use programme facilitate the sustainable use of natural and cultural resources within parks using three sustainability objectives: the maintenance of ecological integrity and economic viability and the promotion of social relevance. Early KNP conservation approaches included forced removals and restricted access policies, resulting in humans being removed as drivers of ecosystem processes within parks (traditional hunting, harvesting of food and medicine, managing fire and using water). Some believe this has led to ecosystem degradation within parks as a result of underuse (degradation meaning unnatural change). These policies also led to social, political, and economic degradation of people’s rights and opportunities to access and derive benefits from conservation, leading to an erosion of people-nature connections, people-parks relationships, and a reduction in socio-ecological resilience. Our study reflects on extractive resource use projects currently being implemented in the KNP (mopane worms, thatch, medicinal products, and meat) in the context of how and to what degree these projects have restored natural and social system functionality.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration