The founding of the Marloth Nature Reserve: a historic example of collaborative conservation
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During the 1970s collaborative conservation between management bodies and citizens became a field of academic interest. It is globally practised today and implies consensus-based decision-making, often with a special emphasis on conflict resolution. Although collaborative conservation is a contemporary academic field, the history of the Marloth Nature Reserve, located in the Langeberg Mountains near Swellendam in the southern Cape, serves as a historic example of collaborative conservation. Created in 1928, the reserve originally comprised approximately 123 ha. Today, it is a World Heritage Site, 14 256 ha in size, with an abundance of mountain fynbos, birdlife and small wildlife. One of the most renowned national hiking trails, the Swellendam Circular Trail of 53 km, runs through the reserve. Although the determination of the original boundaries of the reserve in 1928 can be seen as a fairly successful example of collaborative conservation based on consensus decision-making, the inclusion of the foothills in 1942 resulted in a prolonged process of conflict resolution, with the main protagonists being the Department of Forestry and Ms Aletta Tomlinson, a life-long resident of Swellendam. This article gives an overview of this case study through the historic narrative, indicating how, through sheer persistence, Aletta Tomlinson eventually succeeded in procuring the foothills as part of the reserve and aided in securing the indigenous flora of the Marloth Nature Reserve as part of the Cape Floristic World Heritage Site.