From Conflict to Negotiation
Nature-Based Development on South Africa's Wild Coast
Palmer, R, Timmermans, R & Fay, D,
297mm X 210mm
In print
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The Rio Earth Summit of 1992 introduced several new approaches to environmental management under the general heading of Sustainable Development. One of these approaches has forced conservationists to concede that it is no longer feasible or ethical to exclude resident communities from protected areas, as had been the practice for more than a century. The alternative approach, highlighting considerations of social justice and economic empowerment, is to recognise that humans are also part of the local ecology, and to find sustainable ways to maintain local livelihoods along with biodiversity.

Especially in the global South, resource-dependent communities associated with protected areas had long been subjected to removals or restrictions by the state, and had been forced to modify livelihoods historically dependent on abundant natural resources, usually resulting in their acute impoverishment.

Eastern and southern Africa had been particular sites of the former protectionist policies and their frequently tragic sequels for communities. Following the Summit much energy has been expended on finding sustainable alternatives to relocation in these regions, particularly new livelihoods linked to ecotourism.

From Conflict to Negotiation provides a South African case study of the shift from protectionism to sustainable development in the 1990s. Located on the 'Wild Coast' of the Eastern Cape, Dwesa-Cwebe consists of a nature and marine reserve with eight adjacent resident communities that have historically depended on local forest, grassland and coastal resources. This area has been the focus of one of the earliest efforts in the 'new' South Africa to restore to the Xhosa-speaking residents ownership of a protected area from which they had been excluded for decades. Unusually, the residents initiated the process.

While others celebrated the advent of the new democracy in South Africa in 1994, the residents of this remote area, whose grievances had been ignored during the political transition, planned a protest strategy featuring co-ordinated invasions of the protected area. The protest action succeeded to the extent that it gained massive media attention and provoked the special attention of national and regional government, NGOs and academic researchers.

An early academic intervention designed to bring the residents and conservationists together was later expanded. Complementing the roles of government and NGOs, environmentalists and socio-cultural anthropologists, among others involved in this project, have attempted to address the conundrum of sustainable development policy implementation in a complex setting.

From Conflict to Negotiation details the findings of this pioneering research project. It is the story of local empowerment regained as confrontation yielded to negotiation and negotiation yielded co-management, local ownership and developmental partnerships. This landmark study will prooke ongoing discussion and research in an exciting new forum of community development.

Table of contents:
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction – Palmer, Timmermans & Fay
  • Part One
    1. The Land – Timmermans & Naicker
    2. The Residents – Palmer & Fay
    3. The Outsiders – Palmer & Kralo
  • Part Two:
    4. Competing for the Forests: Annexation, Demarcation and their consequences c1878 to 1936 – Fay, Timmermans & Palmer
    5. Closing the Forests: Segregation, Exclusion and their Consequences from 1936 to 1994 – Fay, Timmermans & Palmer
    6. Regaining the Forests: Reform and Development from 1994 to 1999 – Palmer, Timmermans, Fay, Lewis & Viljoen
  • Part Three:
    7. Poverty and Differentiation at Dwesa-Cwebe – Fay & Palmer
    8. Natural Resource Use at Dwesa-Cwebe – Timmermans
    9. Contemporary Tourism at Dwesa-Cwebe – Palmer & Viljoen
  • Part Four:
    10. South Africa and the New Tourism – Palmer & Viljoen
    11. Conservation and Communities: New Challenges – Fabricius
    12. A Development Vision for Dwesa-Cwebe – Palmer, Fay, Timmermans, Fabricius
  • Conclusion - Palmer, Timmermans, Fay
  • Postscript
  • Appendix A
  • Bibliography

  • Christo Fabricius has a PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Cape Town. He is head of the Environment Science Programme at Rhodes University, and previously worked as a research associate in the International Institute for Environment and Development in London. He has 12 years’ experience as a nature conservation scientist in the Eastern and Northern Cape Provinces, South Africa.

    Derick Fay is currently writing his PhD in sociocultural anthropology and lecturing at Boston University. In 1998–99 he was visiting scholar at Rhodes University’s Institute of Social and Economic Research while conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Hobeni, one of the Dwesa-Cwebe communities. Fonda Lewis holds a Masters degree in Environment and Development from the University of Natal. She was previously employed as a chief researcher at the Human Sciences Research Council. She is currently a project manager for the Natural Resource Management Programme at the Institute for Natural Resources in association with the University of Natal.

    Kamal Naicker holds a BA degree from the University of South Africa. He was previously employed as assistant researcher at the Human Sciences Research Council. He is currently a planner at the Monitoring and Evaluation directorate of the Department of Land Affairs.

    Robin Palmer has a DPhil from the University of Sussex. He is associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rhodes University, and has collaborated with the Institute of Social and Economic Research in several previous research projects in the former Ciskei and Transkei.

    Herman Timmermans studied Environmental and Geographic Science at the University of Cape Town. He is based at the Institute of Social and Economic Research, and is actively involved in a number of initiatives directed at reconciling conservation and rural development objectives.

    Johan Viljoen holds a BA (Hons) degree in Geography from the University of Pretoria. He is currently a researcher and member of Group Economic and Social Analysis at the Human Sciences Research Council.