Identifying and analysing management requirements in Ezemvelo KZN wildlife for effective implementation of co-management in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park.
Goosen, Eduard Johannes.
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The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site (UDP WHS) is one of only 23 properties world wide that has been listed a World Heritage Site of dual significance due to its cultural and natural values. The picture portrayed to the international community depicts a successful conservation history of more than a 100 years. Achievements include the proclamation of the first Wilderness Area in Africa and its listing as a Ramsar Site. However, little or no mention is made of the current anthropological threats facing the Park today as a direct result of the historically discriminatory and politically insensitive protected area designations. The history of the park reveals a battle ground of conflict between indigenous neighbouring communities and management authorities regarding the contentious issues of land tenure and user rights. Even though Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) as the management authority has embraced a holistic and participative management paradigm in its policies, efforts to implement this paradigm have been slow and contentious with little or no meaningful successes. Internationally, the construct of comanagement has been identified as the best possible way to achieve a participative, inclusive, holistic management paradigm. In South Africa, and the UDP WHS, the relatively sudden imperative for co-management due to legislative requirements as part of the land restitution process has left many conservation authorities to grapple with the implementation of this construct. Co-management however does not conform well to traditional protectionist and imperialist management systems. The implementation of comanagement in Southern Africa, considering the socio-political history of conservation, requires a significant paradigm change not only in the individuals that will be involved with the implementation of the process, but even more so, within conservation organisations, to create an understanding of the requirements of the systems and processes to facilitate the adoption of this holistic management approach. The overall objective of the research is to analyse identified organisational aspects that are deemed to negatively impact on the process of implementation of co-management in EKZNW, and specifically the UDP WHS. To address this objective, the following three key research questions were identified: a. What are the expectations within EKZNW with regards to the implementation of comanagement with neighbouring communities in the different departments within EKZNW? b. What are the barriers in the management systems of EKZNW with regard to the implementation of co-management with neighbouring communities? c. What are the resource requirements in EKZNW for the implementation and maintenance of co-management with neighbouring communities’? This case study focused specifically on the UDP WHS management within the EKZNW organisational structure. A qualitative research design was used to conduct the case study. Research techniques included a review of existing organisational documentation guiding the implementation of co-management; the conducting of semi-structured interviews with purposely selected interviewees; asking open ended questions developed to address the key questions as identified; as well as participant and direct observation. A content analysis was performed on the answers obtained from the semi-structured interview process. This analysis resulted in the creation of a detailed descriptive narrative. The interpretation of the raw data was used to recognise patterns and common elements in the data that were relevant to the key research questions. The key findings of the research indicated that, even though participants indicated some level of understanding of concept of co-management, expectations around comanagement varied substantially. The vision and objectives contained in various organisational policies and strategies around co-management are not congruent with operational actions. This affects both individual and organisational expectations around co-management. EKZNW’s recognition of the difficulties around the implementation of comanagement can thus be contributed to a vicious circle of poorly defined or understood objectives around co-management which are compounded by a number of real and perceived barriers. It is apparent from the research that a lack of a shared vision and understanding of the objectives has resulted in a poor understanding of the resource requirements for the implementation of co-management. It is envisaged that the development of an understanding of a shared future vision and objectives around comanagement through effective communication, education, participation and awareness will assist in growing EKZNW staff capabilities to transcend institutional barriers and promote the development of an enabling environment for the effective implementation of co-management.
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