Public participation in wetland rehabilitation with refrence [sic] to long-term management and sustainability : a case study of Hlatikulu and Ntsikeni.
Within wetland rehabilitation projects there has been limited research that focuses on the level and nature of participation by local people, such as individuals from communal areas and landowners from private farms. The overall aim of this study was to analyze the level and nature of participation with specific reference to the holistic long term management and sustainability of wetland rehabilitation projects in Hlatikulu and Ntsikeni, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed in this study to examine the level of stakeholder participation in the projects. The Hlatikulu and Ntsikeni projects were undertaken on private land and government land (nature reserve) respectively. The World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) Framework was applied to analyze the level and nature of participation by different stakeholders that were involved in the selected projects. The study revealed that not all stakeholder groups participated in each and every phase of the projects. In Hlatikulu there was a moderate level of participation from the management of private land, but a limited degree of local participation from the Nsonge community. This, to some extent is attributed to the lack organization in the Nsonge community. There are no structures or authorities through which the process of local participation can be engaged. In Ntsikeni, although the process of continuous local involvement was limited to local Chiefs and some community representatives, the process appeared to be participatory in nature. The selected representatives report back in community meetings and other relevant forums, such as the Ntsikeni Nature Reserve Management Forum, which has been operating successfully for several years. Local people participated in the rehabilitation projects mainly as paid workers, and also in providing advice in the planning processes. For both sites, the results demonstrated that there is a need to enhance and harness active local participation in order to ensure the long term management and sustainability of the Hlatikulu and Ntsikeni wetlands. Within this study, the WOCAT framework was applied to provide insights to two sites, with different land tenure and land use contexts. The results of this study suggest that the WOCAT framework has a high potential to be applied across a diversity wetland rehabilitation sites within South Africa.
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