Improving community involvement in biodiversity conservation in southern and South Africa : a legal analysis
Alberts, Reece Cronje
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Traditionally the approach to nature conservation in South Africa was a colonialist one, which centred on the notion that the exclusion of rural people from protected areas would result in the best possible protection of fauna and flora and their habitats. This protectionist approach resulted in the creation of ad hoc wildlife sanctuaries, mostly national parks and game reserves which excluded local communities. The notion of a more inclusive approach to communities surrounding conservation areas is a hallmark of modern conservationist thinking and has gained much favour in recent times. The involvement of communities in biodiversity conservation initiatives is especially important when considered within the context of effective environmental governance (EG). This coupled with South Africa's anthropocentric approach to environmental governance serves to lay the theoretical foundation for the proper involvement of communities in the conservation of biodiversity. Central to the notion of sustainability, is the preservation of the integrity of ecosystems, while simultaneously acknowledging the integral part that humans play in these ecosystems. This notion of sustainability, coupled with the much–favoured bottom–up approach to conservation, highlights the importance of community involvement in the formation of biodiversity conservation areas. In order to ensure effective community involvement in biodiversity conservation initiatives, it is imperative that a coherent policy and legal framework exists so as to properly facilitate community involvement in biodiversity conservation initiatives and in so doing to properly implement such projects. It is against this background that this study seeks to explore and analyse the relevant and applicable regional, sub–regional and national legal frameworks applicable to community involvement with regard to biodiversity conservation.
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