Nel documento Depositata in Segreteria il 18 aprile 2008. (pagine 35-41)

Despite the mixed results of many smaller conservation-development initiatives, Southern Africa has recently embarked on transfrontier conservation and development areas to promote both conservation and development on a greater scale than ever before. As stated before, TFCAs are conservation areas that straddle the boundaries of and are commonly managed by two or more countries that simultaneously strive to promote regional cooperation between states and the development of communities. Coming back to the original question guiding this chapter - what are the characteristics of the conservation-development discourse in Southern Africa over time and how has this influenced the political mobilisation process of TFCAs? - the latter sections indicate that it is the hybridisation of fortress and community conservation, together with more recent trends, that have led to the emergence of TFCAs. After all – as alluded to in chapter one - TFCAs seem the ultimate conservation-development hybrids: in theory they (can) combine conservation of biodiversity, development of rural communities, different land tenure systems, interstate cooperation, security concerns, etc. Nevertheless and although accurate (see also Ramutsindela, 2007: 10), this is but a minor part of the argument.

The more fundamental argument developed in previous chapters - and the one that will be illustrated in the remainder of the thesis - is that transfrontier conservation areas are highly influenced by, and even the outcomes of the currently hegemonic political economic ideology of neoliberalism. The remainder of this section, then, will discuss some of the more general, descriptive elements that led to the rise of transfrontier conservation within the political economy of neoliberalism.

46 Ellis specifically discusses how the South African military destabilisation strategies towards its neighbours went hand in hand with illegal dealing in the international ivory trade

Even though TFCAs came to prominence during the 1990s, especially in Southern Africa, their history can be traced back much earlier. The customary starting point in the literature for transfrontier conservation is 1932, when the Waterton/Glacier Transfrontier Park between The United States and Canada was proclaimed (Sandwith et al, 2001). Although some experimentation with transfrontier cooperation had occurred in Africa47, it was much later that transfrontier conservation became prominent throughout the continent. The vision of transfrontier conservation resurfaced during the 1980s with publications on transboundary nature conservation by organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Again common in the literature, the starting point for transfrontier conservation in Southern Africa is then credited to Dr. Anton Rupert, a South African businessman, who championed the concept by establishing the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) in 1997. Criticising this tendency, Ramutsindela (2007) provides a more legible and historically informed explanation of the initiation of transfrontier conservation in Southern Africa, and why its dominant conceptualisation became intimately linked with the emerging neoliberal political economy48.

The crucial element in his argument is the history of the links between conservation and capital of the predecessor of the PPF, the South African Nature Foundation (SANF).

Originally founded by Rupert as the unofficial South African chapter of the WWF, the SANF became a highly successful conservation NGO. According to Ramutsindela (2007: 56), “the most defining character of SANF was that it was strongly linked to the business sector”. Made possible by Rupert’s extensive business network, SANF successfully persuaded South African and international companies during the 1980s to support SANF financially and so strengthen their own image. Considering the decaying state of apartheid, companies were more than eager to find ways in which they could help retain faith in the future South Africa, which, as was becoming increasingly clear, was likely to be ruled by the black majority. The link with nature conservation was a logical choice, as this could build on what had long been framed in terms of what the ‘real’ or ‘unspoilt’ Africa should be like (Adams and McShane, 1996). In turn, the new black majority government needed to be convinced that nature

47 Belgium had in fact established a park straddling the borders of its colonies of the Congo and Rwanda-Urundi in 1925, but the park split up after independence of the Congo and Rwanda.

48 Which received a major boost when in the mid-1990s the ANC government exchanged the more socialist oriented Reconstruction and Development Programme for the neoliberal Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) programme.

conservation and transfrontier conservation areas in particular were crucial in the post-apartheid reconstruction of the economy (Ramutsindela, 2007: 58). This was skilfully done by the SANF by pointing at what was then already foreseen as one of the most important growth sectors of a post-apartheid South Africa: nature-based tourism.

However, SANF was not to be the vehicle to keep promoting these plans. In 1995, it was subsumed again under WWF, who disallowed SANF to continue its operations in South Africa’s neighbouring countries. Yet, as Ramutsindela convincingly shows, these operations were crucial for the promotion of TFCAs as many of the areas the SANF was active in would form nuclei of future TFCAs. A new vehicle was needed and in 1997, Dr. Rupert, together with Nelson Mandela and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, founded the Peace Parks Foundation, an NGO solely devoted to the establishment of TFCAs in the Southern African region. The official objectives of the PPF are to raise and allocate funds for TFCA development and establishment, identify and purchase land for TFCAs and to promote TFCA development on a commercial basis (Hanks, 2000). To aid them in their objectives, the PPF, based on the networks and methods build up by SANF, gained strong political and business support; e.g. the heads of state of eight involved Southern African nations, who are all honorary patrons and 21 companies organised in PPFs financial supporting ‘Club 21’49.

Dr. Rupert and the PPF were also essential in getting donors, such as the World Bank, the German Development Bank KfW and USAID, interested in the concept (Hanks, 2000). In 1996, the World Bank, through the Global Environment Facility, offered Mozambique a 5 million US$ grant for a ‘Transfrontier Conservation Area Pilot and Institutional Strengthening Project”, with the objective to “test new approaches to exploit the synergies between conservation and community development in very poor areas where income earning opportunities are limited” (World Bank, 1996: 14). Although the same document states that poverty reduction in Mozambique has the highest priority, Wolmer (2003) sees the above quote as a rationalisation for the World Bank to extend their mandate to include conservation and so try to mend their bad environmental image (see also Ramutsindela, 2007). By the same token, this gave the World Bank a ticket to jump on the fashionable ‘political bandwagon’

that TFCAs had become by the end of the 20th century (Magome and Murombedzi, 2003).

49 See next chapter, section 4.3.5.

As is clear from the foregoing, TFCAs are promoted with rigour and backed by substantial financial means by a great variety of different actors, especially white business elites linked with the PPF. Early criticisms on the TFCA concept therefore hinged mostly on the fear that TFCAs are indeed largely driven by European and South-African conservationist interests and that the development of ‘local communities’ will not be a high priority in the whole process.

In fact, critics fear that poverty might actually increase due to the expelling of communities out of TFCAs (Mayoral-Phillips, 2002), something that has become a reality in recent years (Spierenburg et al, 2006; see following chapters).

While this specific critique has repeatedly been validated (Wolmer, 2003; Van Amerom and Büscher, 2005; Whande, 2007), more fundamental, political-economy oriented criticism of transfrontier conservation has been slow to develop and remains incoherent. Singh and van Houtum (2002: 261), state that “transfrontier/transboundary conservation has been able to create a neo-liberal economic space for white capital while privileging the tribal elite and enclosing the rural black African”. In a similar vein, Hughes (2005: 161) argues that, with the advent of transfrontier conservation and with particular reference to the Great Limpopo, “a handful of Euro-African nature lovers have (re)asserted a continental space commensurate with a particular white history and hope for the future”. Yet, both these contributions, as well as that of Ramutsindela (2007), stop short of explicitly elaborating on what it entails for TFCAs to be a truly neoliberal project. This is the gap the thesis aims to fill.

3.5 Conclusion

The present chapter complements the context for this thesis. Chapter two laid out the central elements of contemporary neoliberal political economy in the framework of conservation and development. This chapter outlined the historical roots of this framework in the Southern African context with special emphasis on the position of (transfrontier) conservation and development. Its main argument was that, over time, conservation and development issues increasingly hybridized with elements of the changing political economy of the region. The outcome hereof is the positioning of TFCAs as typical children of the neoliberal times. The next chapters aim to substantiate and empirically illustrate this argument and explore its implications by first analysing the regional Southern African transfrontier architecture, followed by a more in-depth case-study of what (contra Ramutsindela, 2007: 78) is arguably

the one true transfrontier conservation area in the region: the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Area.

Part II: Transfrontier Conservation and Development in Southern Africa

Figure 1 - Southern African region indicating existing and potential Transfrontier Conservation Areas

Source: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

Nel documento Depositata in Segreteria il 18 aprile 2008. (pagine 35-41)

Documenti correlati