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Dryland conservation areas, indigenous people, livelihoods and natural resource values in South Africa : the case of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

By Gladman Thondhlana


Contemporary conservation and development understanding in both policy and academic circles espouses that natural resources have a significant contribution to the livelihoods of local people and that knowledge of this can better foster conservation policies that are consistent with livelihood and ecological needs. This thesis is based on research conducted in the southern Kalahari region, South Africa among the San and Mier communities bordering Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It looks at the importance of natural resources to the San and Mier community groups and ascertains the extent of resource use and its value within broader livelihood portfolios. It also focuses on the cultural values of natural resources and interactions among institutions and actors and how these shape natural resource governance and livelihood outcomes. Overall, natural resources represent an important livelihood source contributing up to 32 % and 9 % of the total income of the San and Mier respectively or up to 46 % and 23 % if livestock incomes are included. However, the dependence on, diversification patterns and distribution of natural resource income vary substantially between and within the two communities. With regards to the cultural values attached to natural resources by the San and Mier, the findings show that these arise from an incredibly diverse and sometimes conflicting array of values that punctuate the two communities’ way of life and they are inextricably linked to resource use. Lastly, governance of natural resources in the co-managed Park and communitymanaged resettlement farms is characterised by complex institutional arrangements, compounded by the existence of multiple actors that have multiple and sometimes conflicting objectives – as shaped by different meanings and interpretations of natural resources. Heightened inter- and intra-community conflicts are common, notably resource use conflicts between the San and Mier and between the San ‘modernist’ and ‘traditionalist’ groups. This demonstrates that the communities’ livelihood dynamics in general and the dependence on natural resources in particular, are closely linked with ecological, economic and social factors including history, culture and present livelihood needs. By exploring the social-environment interactions, the study highlights the complexities and diversity of resource use for livelihoods that should be taken into consideration for both conservation and development policy interventions and research. The main argument of the study is that the contribution of natural resources to local livelihood portfolios in co- and community-managed areas, can be better understood through a consideration of cultural dynamics and institutional arrangements since these condition natural resource access, value and use

Topics: Human ecology -- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana and South Africa), Arid regions biodiversity conservation -- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana and South Africa), Arid regions agriculture -- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana and South Africa), Indigenous peoples -- Ecology -- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana and South Africa), Natural resources conservation areas -- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana and South Africa), Natural resources -- Government policy -- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana and South Africa), Natural resources -- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana and South Africa) -- Management.
Publisher: Faculty of Science, Environmental Science
Year: 2011
OAI identifier:
Provided by: SEALS Digital commons
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