Maano Ramutsindela and Innocent Sinthumule
What is the main purpose of your study?
To understand how land tenure manifests in nature conservation and also allocates power in nature conservation projects. The study further investigated the manner in which historical land tenure systems are sustained through conservation enterprises.
What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study?
The implications of the study are that new conservation projects in the form of transfrontier conservation weakens the land rights of local communities living on communal land while favoring and strengthening the land rights of private property owners. This differentiation implies that participants in transfrontier conservation do not enjoy equal status, and therefore cannot be expected to benefit in the same way. Inequalities in transfrontier conservation projects reflect but also entrench divisions in societies.
How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
The study contributes to ongoing debates on land reform in protected areas, and is relevant to work on environmental justice, and restitution.
What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?
The key findings of the study are:
- The racial division of societies in southern Africa manifests in conservation projects,
- There are winners and losers in transfrontier conservation, and
- Conservation projects sharpen property rights issues.
What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?
Theoretically, the study implies that property relations are crucial for social science research on conservation. While the environmental crisis facing humanity should be of concern to us all, there is a need theorize conservation areas as contested spaces laden with power relations.
How does your research help us think about Geography?
The research helps us to understand the ways in which the relationships between people and nature produce globalized spaces (i.e. protected areas) that are often marginal to theories of space in geography. Nature conservation areas constitute territories in which the politics of space takes place.