Conservation discourses related to natural resource use : local communities and Kruger National Park conservation officers Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

Curtayne, Carmen (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: There is a shift by conservation authorities in post-apartheid South Africa away from management strategies based on law enforcement towards strategies aimed at facilitating local community participation in the management of natural resources. South African National Parks has established community forums in order to facilitate better communication with the communities neighbouring it parks, especially around issues of natural resource consumption. However, at its largest Park, the Kruger National Park, a pervasive miscommunication between the Park and the communities appears to exist despite the ongoing activities of its forums. This study attempted to identify what miscommunication, if any, was occurring between three groups of participants in the Conservation Discourse related to the Kruger National Park environment. The participants were (i) South African National Parks (SANParks) conservation managers, (ii) Kruger Park community outreach officials, and, (iii) members of local communities settled on the borders of the Kruger Park. Specifically, the study was interested in how different perceptions of various participants, who also represent different cultural communities, were foregrounded in relation to different communicative goals. It is suggested that an understanding of where the different Discourses diverge can help identify where possible misunderstandings are occurring which may be resulting in communicative problems. My primary research questions were: (1) how do different communities of practice take part in and construct Conservation Discourse related to the Kruger Parks conservation goals, in particular, those related to the use of natural resources; and, (2) how do members of at least three interest groups construct their own identities in relation to conservation matters in the course of various discursive events where SANParks conservation programmes, particularly those related to the use of natural resources, are topicalised. My assumption was that the Parks conservation officers would have a common Conservation Discourse, and that the local communities would have a common discourse but one which deviates entirely from that of the Parks. From 23 September 2008, I conducted three semi-structured interviews with the Parks conservation officers, I was an observer of a Park departmental meeting as well as a Park Forum, and I conducted a focus group with eight members from one of the local communities. This approach enabled me to collect data from a number of different types of communicative events in order to collate a multidimensional picture of the complete Discourse on Conservation. A number of different Conservation Discourses were identified, some of which present significant discrepancies, and which, as in the case of the two of the departments, may be contributing towards what appears to be a serious breakdown in communication. The communities show that while they are supportive of the populist concept of nature conservation, they are completely unaware of the Parks conservation policies. This lack of awareness indicates a failure of the existing communication between the Park and its neighbouring communities despite the Park Forums having been set-up. Finally, the different discourses also appear to be resulting in misunderstandings and feelings of animosity between the different participants.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In post-apartheid Suid-Afrika beweeg bewaringsliggame weg van bestuurstrategieë wat op wetstoepassing gebaseer is, na strategieë wat daarop gemik is om die plaaslike gemeenskap se deelname in die bestuur van natuurlike hulpbronne, te fasiliteer. Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Parke het gemeenskapsforums in die lewe geroep om beter kommunikasie met die gemeenskappe wat aan sy parke grens, te bewerkstellig, veral rakende kwessies rondom die verbruik van natuurlike hulpbronne. By die grootse Park, te wete die Kruger Nasionale Wildtuin, kom dit egter voor asof miskommunikasie endemies is tussen die Park en sy aangrensende inheemse gemeenskappe, ten spyte van die forums se aktiwiteite. Hierdie studie het nagegaan watter miskommunikasie, indien enige, tussen drie groepe deelnemers aan die Bewaringsdiskoerse rondom die Krugerpark, plaasgevind het. Die deelnemers was (i) Suid- Afrikaanse Nasionale Parke (SANParke)-bewaringsbestuurders, (ii) Krugerpark Gemeenskapsuitreikbeamptes, en (iii) lede van plaaslike gemeenskappe wat op die grense van Krugerpark gevestig is. Die studie het spesifiek gekyk na hoe verskillende persepsies van die onderskeie deelnemers, wat ook verskillende kulturele gemeenskappe verteenwoordig, in die diskoerse op die voorgrond geplaas is afhangende van verskillende kommunikatiewe doelwitte. Daar word voorgestel dat begrip van waar die verskillende diskoerse uiteenloop, kan help om te identifiseer waar moontlike misverstande wat tot kommunikasie-probleme lei, ontstaan. My primêre navorsingsvrae was: (1) hoe neem verskillende gemeenskappe wat rondom gedeelde praktyke gevestig is deel aan Bewaringsdiskoerse wat die Krugerpark se bewaringsoogmerke (en veral daardie oogmerke wat met die gebruik van natuurlik hulpbronne te make het) en hoe konstrueer hulle daardie Diskoerse; en (2) hoe konstrueer lede van ten minste drie belangegroepe hul eie identiteite vis à vis bewaringskwessies in die loop van verskeie diskursiewe gebeurtenisse waar SANParke se bewaringsprogramme, veral daardie wat met die gebruik van natuurlike hulpbronne te doen het, bespreek word. My aanname was dat die Park se bewaringsbeamptes 'n gemeenskaplike Bewaringsdiskoers sou hê, en dat die plaaslike gemeenskappe 'n gemeenskaplike Diskoers sou hê wat heeltemal van die Park s'n verskil. Ek het van 23 September 2008 drie semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude met die Park se bewaringsbeamptes gevoer, ek was 'n nie-deelnemende waarnemer by een van die Park se departementele vergaderings asook by 'n Park Forum, en ek het 'n fokusgroep met agt lede van een van die plaaslike gemeenskappe gelei. Hierdie benadering het my daartoe in staat gestel om data van verskeie tipes kommunikatiewe gebeurtenisse in te samel, om sodoende 'n multi-dimensionele beeld van die volledige Bewaringsdiskoers saam te stel. 'n Aantal verskillende Bewaringsdiskoerse is geïdentifiseer, waarvan party noemenswaardige diskrepansies toon en wat, soos in die geval van die twee departemente, moontlik bydra tot wat lyk na 'n ernstige breuk in kommunikasie. Die gemeenskappe toon dat, hoewel hulle die algemene konsep van natuurbewaring ondersteun, hulle heeltemal onbewus is van die Park se formele bewaringsbeleid. Hierdie gebrek aan 'n bepaalde soort bewussyn dui op mislukking van die bestaande kommunikasiestrukture tussen die Park en aangrensende gemeenskappe, ten spyte van die instelling van die Park Forums. Uiteindelik blyk dit dat die verskillende Diskoerse ook lei tot misverstande en gevoelens van vyandiggesindheid tussen die verskillende deelnemers.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6534
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