But we don't spoil it, we protect it': Coleske residents' conceptualisations of the Baviaanskloof nature reserve and its protection
Many scholars acknowledge that people living within or adjacent to nature reserves should be part of conservation processes. However, studies indicate that tension exists between some government conservation models, vis-à-vis local residents' social attachments and sense of belonging to these protected areas. As tension may withhold residents from participating in conservation, it is critical to understand the nature of such tensions by considering how local residents express social values relating to the environment and its protection, and what influences these values. The objective of this article is to contribute to this body of literature by reporting on a case study of the Coleske residents living within the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve (BNR) in South Africa. It considers tension between them and the conservation authority, the Eastern Cape Parks Board (ECPB), about relocation options outside the BNR, as presented to this community by the ECPB. Findings indicate that many residents attach meaning to the BNR, mediated by their religious beliefs, which generates a sense of responsibility to protect it. This contrasts with what the authors argue to be conservation authorities' view of the BNR as a resource that needs to be protected from human interference. The authors suggest that a possible people-centred conservation strategy for the BNR will only succeed if the ECPB takes cognisance of the residents' attachment to the BNR, by providing them with a piece of land on the reserve. © 2010 Society of South African Geographers.