Global conservation, local impacts : environmental decision making in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
In 1996, two years after the election of a fully democratic government and the return of South Africa as an acceptable member of international society, the Premier of South Africa's Limpopo Province met with his counterpart, the Governor of Gaza Province, in Mozambique, to discuss the potential of establishing business links between these two adjacent regions. As a result, an International Agreement to establish the Great Limpopo National Park (GLTP) was signed in 2000. Areas included in the GLTP are the Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa, Limpopo National Park (LNP) in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. Other areas earmarked for inclusion are the Sengwe Communal land in Zimbabwe, and Zinave and Banhine National Parks in Mozambique. This thesis explores the processes of decision making throughout the administrative hierarchy of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), and evaluates these in terms of social and environmental justice principles. The three main objectives are: to identify decision making procedures and approaches currently being used in the setting up of the GLTP; to determine the extent to which decision making approaches have incorporated concerns relating to social and environmental justice; and to assess public participation in the GLTP to date - particularly at the community level. Findings indicate that the popular rhetoric surrounding the GLTP has, to date not taken place in reality. Many of the flagship projects have been met with opposition from the community. Social justice is not sufficiently prioritised within the GLTP, as shown by ongoing power differentials, prioritising of wildlife over people in terms of water rights, ongoing harsh treatment of "poachers", the disruption of traditional land use activities, and resettlement of villages into new and potentially different communities. Findings displayed in the questionnaire results, indicate that policies and action plans for the GLTP were developed by the state with little public participation. The community's powerless to influence any decisions or affect any change is encapsulated in the fact that they are, at present living with introduced wild animals. A public participation technique that took the form of a community barriers meeting did take place. This however did not contribute to the community having a say in the park plans. One cannot deny that decision makers have realised their mistake of bypassing community consultation and moving directly to implementation. It seems more effort is being made to bring communities into the process, through the formation of the Project Liaison Board, and thereby ensuring that they receive their promised benefit from the development of the GLTP. It is very difficult to try and categorise the type of approach to community conservation in the GLTP. Certain elements from all three relationships are evident, but more so from Protected Area Outreach.