Wednesday 7
Resilience, tourism and protected areas
Meriem Bouamrane
› 11:30 - 12:30 (1h)
The role of private protected areas in governmental conservation systems – a case study in South Africa
Julia Baum  1@  
1 : Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town  (UCT)  -  Website
University of Cape Town Rondebosch 7701 Cape Town -  Afrique du Sud

Biodiversity conservation is traditionally achieved through the implementation of protected areas under the management of government. While this top-down approach offers sustainability, it may be inadequate to meet conservation goals. Governmentally-administered protected areas may also have less flexibility and may struggle to adapt to social-ecological disturbances. Conservation on privately owned land offers one alternative. In South Africa, private protected areas (PPAs) covered 16% of the national territory compared to 5% statutory reserves in 2008. However, information is lacking on how or where PPAs emerge, function, and persist; and on the ways in which social-ecological interactions influence their dynamics. Which structures and conditions make private reserves resilient? Which challenges do they face, and how can they contribute to national development targets?

I report on the results of a set of personal interviews with PPA owners and managers, undertaken using standardized questionnaires and Likert scales, during the period 2012-2013 in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Over the past two decades, there has been an increase in the amount of farmland that is being converted into private game and nature reserves in the study area. South African PPAs are driven by both economic and conservation objectives. They provide multiple societal benefits but are challenged by the legal framework of governmental conservation.

Initial results from a preliminary sample of 29 reserves show that they cover approximately 1,482.2 km2 (1.5% of the Province). In total, PPAs welcome at least 163,000 visitors annually and thus provide different cultural ecosystem services as well as local employment and other societal benefits. PPAs rely strongly on eco-tourism income to sustain themselves: 55% rank “business” as highly important (5 on a scale 1-5) reason for establishment. Furthermore, “accessibility/infrastructure” is important (4 and 5) to 72% of PPAs to attract guests and maintain the PPA. 72% of the reserves rank “conservation” as a highly important (5) purpose of establishment and “biophysical conditions/ecosystems” are assigned high (4 and 5) management priorities for 90%.

Despite their potential contribution to national conservation goals, PPA owners and managers indicate that they are being challenged by governmental legislation, such as inflexible issuing of permits: 59% indicate that “legislation/bureaucracy” has a very high (5) impact on management and 13% explicitly name “red tape” as a constraint. 62% would be receptive to governmental incentives. Their activities appear to be primarily supported by an internal interaction network: 59% of the PPAs rank “connections/network” as important (4 and 5) for their management, and on average, each reserve has 3.5 connections to other PPAs, with a range from 0-13.

While private conservation has to be viable in economic terms, biodiversity conservation appears to be a central objective of South African PPAs. Our findings contribute to a general understanding of the role of private action within governmental conservation systems. While there appear to be significant challenges in compatibility between private and governmental approaches, the apparent importance of network interactions highlights the potential for creating new interaction spaces that would strengthen overall system resilience and enhance cooperation beyond private connections.

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