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Unpacking power and privilege: KwaZulu-Natal's Biodiversity Stewardship Programme

Venue: PLAAS Boardroom
Date: 17 Oct 2017
Time: 13:30 to 14:30

Presenter: Lindokuhle Khumalo, Junior Lecturer, Department of Geography, Environmental Studies and Tourism, UWC

Protected area expansion in South Africa has traditionally been limited to state-owned land. Recently, the introduction of the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme (BSP) has modified such expansion by incorporating land under private ownership, including freehold and communal land as well as land regained through the land reform process. As implementers of the programme, provincial conservation authorities encourage owners of such land to voluntarily commit their properties to safeguarding the biodiversity found on their land. The paper focuses on two member ‘communities’ in exploring how the BSP is experienced by land reform beneficiaries and communal land occupants in particular. Located within the field of poststructuralist political ecology, it investigates the power relations involved as well as the various actors’ understandings of ‘biodiversity’ by paying particular attention to the role of language in the construction of environmental meanings. The findings illustrate multiple discourses of ‘biodiversity’ as held by the different actors and suggest not only that some understandings are more prominent than others but also highlight the contextual politics of language and power. Important questions about the meaningfulness of biodiversity stewardship as a model of community-based conservation are raised in light of the prevalent marginalisation of ordinary community members in local conservation efforts.

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