Year : 2004 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 377-409
Co-management of Contractual National Parks in South Africa: Lessons from Australia
Hannah Reid1, David Fig2, Hector Magome3, Nigel Leader-Williams4
1 International Institute for Environment and Development, 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC 1H 0DD, UK.
2 Box 533, WITS 2050, South Africa.
3 South African National Parks, PO Box 787, Pretoria 0001, South Africa.
4 Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, Department of Anthropology, University of Kent at Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NS, UK.
International Institute for Environment and Development, 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC 1H 0DD, UK.
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|Date of Web Publication||18-Jul-2009|
| Abstract|| |
Contractual national parks in South Africa and Australia have been established on land owned either by the state or a group of private individuals. They are managed by the national conservation authority according to the terms of a joint management agreement drawn up by a joint management committee usually consisting of representatives from the national conservation authority and the landowners. Since majority rule in 1994, South African contractual national parks have provided a model through which the country's conservation as well as development objectives can be met, particularly where landowners are previously disadvantaged communities. Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kakadu National Parks in Australia were established on Aboriginal-owned land and have over fifteen years of experience in co-management. In view of the growing resurgence of protectionist approaches to conservation, this article assesses the success of contractual national parks in South Africa and Australia. Rather than reverting to protectionism, it seeks to build on experiences with joint management to date by analysing what lessons South Africa can learn from Australia regarding meeting the conservation, social and financial/economic objectives of its contractual national parks. Indeed, lessons learnt from both countries will be of value to all non-industrialised countries.
|How to cite this article:|
Reid H, Fig D, Magome H, Leader-Williams N. Co-management of Contractual National Parks in South Africa: Lessons from Australia. Conservat Soc 2004;2:377-409
| Introduction|| |
COLONIAL AUTHORITIES IN Africa and elsewhere usually promoted conservation and wildlife management policies such as trophy hunting in game reserves or protection in national parks that were unsympathetic to the needs of local people (Makombe 1993). Local access to wildlife and traditional subsistence resources was made impossible without breaking the law (IIED 1994; Leader-Williams 2000). People were excluded from areas they had previously inhabited, and fencing was sometimes erected. Since the 1970s there has been a growing belief in the importance of understanding the needs and perspectives of local people. Top-down blueprint approaches to development and conservation were accused of failing to deliver economic growth and social and conservation benefits. By the 1990s, wider conservation objectives had replaced protection as the dominant approach to conservation amongst many academics and the donor community. These wider objectives encourage sustainable management and use of natural resources, and initiatives are typified by increasing levels of local participation (Carruthers 1993; Hutton and Leader-Williams 2003; IIED 1994). Many 2003 World Parks Congress outputs still reiterate these commitments (Borrini-Feyerabend et al. 2003; IUCN 2003).
Numerous initiatives have sought to formalise links between conservation and development. For example, UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme promoted formation of biosphere reserves in the 1970s. These allow for core areas of protection that grade into areas providing for controlled levels of habitation and resource use (Batisse 1993). Many of IUCN's protected area categories allow for sustainable utilisation,  and transfrontier park initiatives also allow for multiple land use strategies and involvement of local people. Contractual national parks are another of these models.
Central to the idea of a contractual national park is the drawing up of a joint management agreement in which the rights and responsibilities of the landowners and the conservation authority that manages the land are laid out. A joint management committee is constituted, usually consisting of elected landowner representatives and officials from the conservation authority. Its prime responsibility is to draw up a joint management plan detailing how the contractual national park will be managed. Contractual national parks provide a framework through which social, development, and economic objectives can be met without alienating local people, whilst conservation objectives can also be met without heavy investment in land purchase (de Villiers 1999a; Robinson 1994).
In South Africa, contractual national parks provide an important way in which the national protected area network can be extended by the inclusion of land that cannot be bought and/or on which mining rights will not be released. Indeed, the concept arose when the government could not expropriate powerful wealthy white citizens from land wanted for conservation purposes (Magome and Murombedzi 2003). Contractual national parks are defined as follows:
Any land that is either privately owned or state owned that is managed by an agreement reached between the owner (state or private) and the National Parks Board and legally specified in a contract will constitute part of a 'contractual national park' and whose boundaries of which, its identification, ownership and status are established by contract (Robinson 1985; see also Republic of South Africa 1976).
With the growing international acceptance of Aboriginal land rights, many contractual national parks are emerging from highly political land claim processes that result in land reform and consequent changes in landownership. Contractual national parks have their longest history in Australia where the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act of 1976 granted title to certain areas in the Northern Territory to traditional Aboriginal owners. The lease for Kakadu, the first contractual national park on Aboriginal land, was signed in 1978 (Hill and Press 1994). Since majority rule in 1994, South Africa's new government has instituted a process of land reform through which it aims to return large areas of land to black Africans (Carnegie et al. 1998) through the Restitution of Land Rights Act 1994 and the Reform Laws Amendment Bill 1999. The Communal Property Association Act of 1996 is particularly important regarding the restitution of land to previously dispossessed communities. South African National Parks (SANP) has also been under pressure to become more 'community friendly' since 1994, and its current policy on land claims in national parks is that land restitution and redistribution need not jeopardise biodiversity conservation (DANCED 2000a). Since 1994 contractual national parks have, therefore, often been viewed as a way to meet both conservation and development objectives in the settlement of land claims. Despite this, it is important to note that SANP sees commercialisation and employment of black South Africans as more effective routes to black empowerment than comanagement (SANP 2001).
After more than a decade of experience with wider conservation objectives, there has been a recent backlash to such approaches in scientific literature (Barrett and Arcese 1995). Many now advocate the return of traditional protectionist practices (Bruner et al. 2001). Such practices may seek to benefit local communities, but are essentially top-down approaches. They include paying communities to ensure that effective conservation management occurs (Ferraro and Simpson 2000; Kiss 2001), debt-for-nature swaps where companies purchase part of a nonindustrialised country's debt in exchange for conservation activities, and carbon emission trading where polluting companies offset emissions by paying for the preservation of threatened areas (Swingland 2003). Some non-industrialised country governments are also withdrawing from community-based approaches. For example, the Ministry of Local Government in Botswana issued a directive in 2001 to pass all income earned from the use of natural resources to district councils, and in Nepal, a recent Forest (Second Amendments) Bill, 2001, strips the autonomy of communities to manage forests.
Protectionists argue that their approaches have been more effective at conserving biodiversity. The importance of protected areas as last safe havens for biodiversity is emphasised, and conservationists are often accused of being unscientific and of misrepresenting facts to promote a political agenda. The notion of ecologically friendly local people has been widely challenged, and concerns have been raised about the de-emphasis of conservation in the face of development and utilisation ethics (Adams 2001; Attwell 2000; Attwell and Cotterill 1999; Bruner et al. 2001; Oates 1999; Spinage 1998). Protectionists believe that 'ultimately, nature and biodiversity must be conserved for their own sakes, not because they have present utilitarian value' (Terborgh 1999).
In practice, wider conservation approaches have varied in their level of anthropocentricity and the degree to which genuine participation has occurred (Adams and Hulme 2001a). Community involvement is often paid lip service and adopted as a secondary strategy when 'preferred' strategies have failed (Adams 2001; Jeanrenaud 2002). Many initiatives remain externally initiated and imposed, many are used as political tools by stakeholders searching for power, and some are used as mechanisms for the indirect re-establishment of state or elite control (Adams and Hulme 2001b; Gibson 1999; Ite and Adams 2000; Murphree 2000). Few conservation organisations have genuinely and systematically attempted to adopt participatory planning methods (Adams and Hulme 2001b; Malleson 2001; Pimbert and Pretty 1995; REDDA/NESDA 1995), and those implementing conservationist initiatives are often game guards or wardens trained in protectionist techniques (Adams 2001). Participation often remains goal orientated rather than open-ended and is used as a tool to improve public relations rather than to devolve any genuine decision-making powers (Gibson and Marks 1995; Pimbert and Pretty 1995). International statutes promoting community-friendly policies have been applied equally selectively. For example, the rhetoric of trade liberalisation has not stretched to include trade in endangered species, which remains controlled by CITES (Pearce 1997). In summary, Murphree (2000) states that community-based natural resource management 'has to date not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and rarely tried'.
This article seeks to analyse how effectively six South African and two Australian contractual national parks meet their conservation, financial/economic and social objectives. Conservation objectives are considered at the park and national levels, and financial/economic objectives are considered for both the conservation authority and the landowners. Australia has many years of experience with joint management (Davies et al. 1999) from which South Africa, which has more recently embarked on such initiatives with its previously disadvantaged population, could benefit. This article, therefore, also seeks to use the analysis to determine what lessons can be learnt for the future about conditions for successful co-management.
| Methods|| |
A social science case study approach was chosen for this research (Yin 2002) to provide a deeper understanding of issues than a natural science approach, despite the dangers of subjectivity. Robson (1993: 5) defines this approach as follows: 'Case study is a strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple sources of evidence.'
Standardised and semi-structured interviews combined a structured quantifiable approach with an unstructured qualitative approach (Oppenheim 1992; Powney and Watts 1987; Robson 1993). Questions evolved from a review of communitybased conservation (CBC) initiatives assessing what factors affected initiative success (Appendix). Questions focused on both facts, and beliefs and attitudes. Trained research assistants helped where interviewees had poor spoken English. Standardised interviewees comprised joint management board members as they had a good understanding of each contractual national park, and subjectivity or bias resulting from selective interviewee choice was avoided [Table 1]. Interviews were conducted in confidence (explaining why many statements in this article are attributed to few or no named persons). All Richtersveld and Postberg Joint Management Board members were interviewed, as were all Makuleke Joint Management Board (JMB) members who at the time were a small but varied interim group. At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, seven of the ten board of management members were interviewed, only two of whom were non-Aboriginal. Aboriginal board of management members were unavailable for interview at Kakadu National Park, and interviews did not occur at Kempiana, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Melkbosrand as there were no formal JMBs.
Semi-structured interviews sought to describe and explore respondents' thoughts about the contractual national park and provide a fuller understanding of key issues that might have been glossed over during standardised interviews (Fowler and Mangione 1990; Miller 1991; Powney and Watts 1987; Robson 1993). Questions were open ended, and revolved around key problems and successes. Respondents included local government officials, journalists, consultants, lawyers, community members, NGO and donor representatives, conservation officials and ecologists, many of whom have had long involvement with the area [Table 2].
Triangulation was used wherever possible to help verify more qualitative data (Chambers 1981; Denzin 1970). Correspondences to some extent cross-validated each other, and investigation of discrepancies helped explain the phenomenon of interest (Robson 1993). Literature studies complemented data obtained from interviews. Such literature included: government acts, statutes and policy documents; contracts and joint management plans;  and joint management board meeting minutes. 
| Co-Managed National Parks Studied|| |
The Postberg Section of West Coast National Park, South Africa
Postberg forms a small part of the 32,000 ha West Coast National Park, situated on the west coast of South Africa, 100 km north-west of Cape Town (Moore and Smith 2000). It is South Africa's first contractual national park and has been open to the public during the flower season since 1969. Postberg itself has no significant biodiversity importance, but is an important part of the park as any development here could ruin the park ambience and damage the lagoon wetlands (West Coast National Park 1999). SANP manages Postberg and covers the costs of this, whilst also accruing income from tourism. Use of Postberg by its owners (the Postberg Syndicate) consists primarily of the right to enter and construct holiday homes. They benefit from exclusivity, privacy, and improved security and management of tourists [Table 3].
The Richtersveld National Park, South Africa
The Richtersveld National Park is located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. It is characterised by a mountainous desert landscape with deep valleys, very low rainfall and temperature extremes (Krohne and Steyn 1991). Climatic extremes make the Richtersveld internationally famous for its botanical variety. The resident local descendants of the San and Khoi groups who originally inhabited the area identify themselves as Nama, and most reside south of the national park in four villages (Eco-Africa Environmental Consultants 1999). Although many work in the mines, nomadic pastoralism remains the traditional mainstay for many Richtersvelders.
In recognition of the ecological importance of the area, the National Parks Board (NPB), precursor of SANP, commenced negotiations with the governmentbacked Northern Richtersveld Management Board to establish a national park. Just before the contract was signed in 1989, an interdict came from the local community represented by a community committee established in direct opposition to the Management Board. It did not oppose the national park, but felt its needs were misrepresented by the Management Board and wanted to be included in the planning of what it saw as yet another form of land loss in a long history of dispossession from the Afrikaner farmers, mines and racially discriminatory land policies (Boonzaier 1991; Fig 1991) (Robbie Robinson, personal communication, 1999). The final agreement allowed for continued use of the park for grazing by 6,600 domestic livestock (Archer et al. 1996), and the NPB agreed to pay 50 cents/ha/year to the Richtersveld Trust. Identity and culture related benefits have proved important. For example, traditional communal landownership and grazing continues, and the park has contributed to a rediscovery of Nama identity through its support of cultural projects. SANP manages the park and covers the costs of this. Decisions about park management are made by the Management Plan Committee (the BPK), which consists of four community representatives, one from each of the surrounding park communities, one nomadic shepherd representative and four SANP representatives (Reid 2000).
The Makuleke Region of Kruger National Park, South Africa
The Makuleke region lies in the northernmost sector of Kruger National Park, South Africa. It borders Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is, therefore, a key part of the proposed transfrontier park linking Kruger to reserves in Mozambique and Zimbabwe (de Villiers 1999a; Pienaar 1996; SANP 2001).
The region was occupied by the Makuleke community until August 1969 when it was removed by the then Department of Bantu Affairs to an area called Ntlaveni, 60 km to the south and only 6,000 ha in size. The Makuleke community lodged a claim for the region in 1995, and the land was restored to them in 1996 on the condition that no mining, prospecting, residence or agriculture would occur, and that the land would be used for conservation purposes for ninety-nine years. The community then leased the land to SANP for use as part of the Kruger National Park for fifty years. Community natural resource use continues, and Makulekes can access the region and construct certain infrastructure (such as a cultural centre). The community has full control over commercial operations and must cover the costs of this, but can enter into contracts with investors. Some commercial trophy hunting has already occurred and lodges are being built. Community involvement in conservation management will increase and Makulekes will cover 50 per cent of management costs when the Communal Property Association (CPA) can afford it, but currently SANP manages the region and covers the costs. SANP also accrues gate fees. A JMB comprising of three SANP and three community representatives acts as the governing body for day-to-day management of the Makuleke Region (Reid 2001; Steenkamp 1999).
The Southern Section of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa
The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park is situated in the arid northern part of the Northern Cape province, South Africa, bordered by Namibia on its western side and Botswana on its east. In 1999 a bilateral agreement was signed by South Africa and Botswana undertaking to manage the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and the Gemsbok National Park as a single ecological unit known as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (SANP 1999; Social Ecology and SANP 2000).
San hunting and gathering culture emerged throughout southern Africa about 25,000 to 15,000 years ago, and the San (or Bushmen) have a long history of occupation in the region. The first European settlers arrived in South Africa in 1652, and from then on the San were persecuted by expanding Dutch colonists, trekking basters, Germans from Namibia who invaded in 1908, and later by the British and Afrikaans-speakers from the Cape Colony. From over 200,000 people in the seventeenth century, San and Khoi populations were reduced to slightly over 6,000 in the 1990s (Barnard 1992; Crawhall 1998). When the national park was proclaimed in 1931, the then minister of land affairs announced that its primary purpose was to protect the San way of life (Chennels 1999). However, over the years, most San were driven out, and today they are one of the most oppressed groups of people in South Africa (Koch 1999). In August 1995, a land claim was launched on behalf of the South African San for land including the southernmost portion of the national park as well as the northern section of the Mier coloured reserve (Chennels 1999). At the time the land claim was launched, the number of indigenous =Khomani San surviving in South Africa was estimated to be around 250, but more have since emerged from the diaspora. A CPA has been formed to own the land (Nigel Crawhall, personal communication, 2001). Since the land claim was lodged, the San have undergone a cultural and linguistic revival symbolised to a large extent by the discovery of twenty-three individuals who speak the =Khomani San language, known as 'N/u', which was declared officially dead over twenty-five years ago (Chennels 1999).
The Mier community has also experienced a history of dispossession (DANCED 2000a), and since 1990 has also occupied land that was partially inside what is now the national park. They currently live to the south of the park in six settlements in the Mier region, a former proclaimed coloured area (Social Ecology and SANP 2000). All settlements have poor water supplies and no electricity. Education and job opportunities are limited, literacy is estimated to be 10 per cent (ibid.), and most rely on farming for their income. In December 1998 the Mier community, represented by the Mier Transitional Local Council (TLC), lodged its own claim for land both inside and outside the park (Chennels 1999).
The land claims were resolved in 1999, and as part of the process, SANP released land in the southern region of the national park to be split between the San and the Mier communities (Chennels 1999; Massyn et al. 2000). A settlement agreement was drawn up between the San, the Mier and SANP, which included the conditions that the land would not be used for residential or farming purposes, and that the three parties would finalise a contract regarding both the contractual area, and symbolic and commercial rights in the rest of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (ibid.). Considerable amounts of land outside the national park were also granted to both claimant communities. The contract remains under negotiation, but identity and culture related benefits (and costs) are already apparent. The land claim process has reunited the =Khomani San, and provided support for linguistic revitalisation, thus reinforcing identity, history and environmental knowledge. As one =Khomani stated, 'I know this land like I know my wife' (Crawhall 1998). The =Khomani also feel particular pride in finally being recognised as San.
Kempiana, Adjacent to Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kempiana is the collective name for four farms donated in 1990 by Hans Hoheisen to the South African Nature Foundation, SANF, (which later became the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF-SA) (Pietersen 1999). It is situated on the western boundary of Kruger National Park. Next to Kempiana is a farm named Vlakgezicht, which the South African National Parks Trust (SANPT) purchased along with the lodge situated on it. In 1992 a ten-year lease agreement for the farm and the lodge was entered into between the SANPT and the Ngala Game Reserve. It was also agreed that the former NPB would manage the land. In 1992 a traversing agreement was also signed between Ngala and SANPT allowing the former to traverse Kempiana for ten years, and an agreement was entered into between the SANF and the former NPB concerning the management of Kempiana by the NPB under the auspices of the Kruger National Park. Thus, in 1994 Vlakgezicht and the four farms known as Kempiana were officially proclaimed as a contractual national park (ibid.). Ngala has exclusive commercial use rights on Kempiana, but minimal consumptive use occurs. SANP manages Kempiana and covers the costs of this. Kempiana landowners have minimal responsibilities.
Melkbosrand, Augrabies Falls National Park, South Africa
Augrabies Falls National Park is located 120 km west of Upington in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. It is bordered on its north-western corner by the arid communal area of Riemvasmaak, by Namibia to the west and the Orange River to the south (Hoffman 1996). The area along the Orange River was originally occupied by Khoikhoin pastoralists and San hunter-gatherer-fishers who also foraged further afield. Around the 1870s a number of families of Nama, Damara or Herero origin trekked from southern Namibia to the area and were joined by coloured pastoralists and Xhosa speakers from the south. In 1973 and 1974 about 1,500 of these people were forcibly removed from Riemvasmaak in order that the South African Defence Force could use the area for training troops and weapons testing (Mckenzie 1998). These people were relocated to the uninhabited fringes of the Namib Desert, and to areas in the Eastern Cape and Kakamas (Devereux 1996; Hoffman 1996; Schwartz et al. 2000). All domestic livestock were removed, and some wild ungulates were reintroduced by the former NPB, which was partially responsible for land management along with the South African Defence Force. Management was according to the terms of a contract, but in reality, contractual national park status was used to cover up how much land the South African Defence Force was using in South Africa at the time (Henk Smith, personal communication, 1999). In 1993 the exiled Riemvasmaak community submitted and won a land claim application to return to the land of their birth, and in 1995 many returned to settle in the area (Hoffman 1996; Schwartz et al. 2000). Augrabies Falls National Park had been proclaimed in 1966, and in 1982 a portion of Riemvasmaak was also proclaimed as part of the national park (Schwartz et al. 2000). Although the Riemvasmaakers' land claim was successful, the three farms forming part of the national park were not returned to the Riemvasmaak community with the rest of their land, and the status of these farms is still under dispute (DANCED 2000b). The claimant community hope to regain ownership of one of these farms called Melkbosrand, for which a contractual national park has been proposed (de Villiers 1999a; Schwartz et al. 2000; Smith 1999).
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is located in the middle of Australia, 335 km by air south-west of Alice Springs. The national park and Yulara resort, which caters to visitors, are surrounded by Aboriginal freehold land (Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management and Parks Australia 2000). The climate is hot and arid. The national park is most famous for Uluru, a sandstone monolith some 9.4 km in circumference, which rises about 340 m above the surrounding plain, and which is fast becoming the most readily identified image of Australia. In 1999 it received 372,000 visitors. The park has World Heritage status for both its natural and cultural values. It was listed as a Biosphere Reserve in 1977, and in 1995 it won the Picasso Gold Medal (UNESCO's highest award) for outstanding efforts to preserve the landscape and Aboriginal culture in the park (ibid.).
The Western Desert Aboriginal people who inhabit the area choose to be known as Anangu. Anangu believe that they have been at Uluru since the start of time and that the landscape was created by ancestral beings from whom they are descended. Anangu feel they are responsible for the protection and appropriate management of the land. The knowledge necessary to fulfil these responsibilities has been passed down from generation to generation through Tjukurpa (ibid.). Tjukurpa refers to the creation period, but it also shapes the whole structure of Anangu society as it refers to a moral system, law, religion and history. It is not written down, but memorised and passed on to the right people, often through ceremony. Western science suggests that habitation in central Australia dates back 30,000 years, that Anangu have inhabited the Uluru region for at least 22,000 years and that contemporary Anangu culture was established probably no more than 5,000 years ago (Australian Nature Conservation Agency 1995). Anangu have retained their lifestyle as hunters and gatherers, with their use of fire extensively altering vegetation and animal communities (Griffin 2000). In 1920 the region was included in a reserve, which was to act as a sanctuary for Aboriginal people who were being decimated by contact with exotic diseases and displacement from their land. However, the original reserve area was reduced as the government identified areas where gold exploration or cattle farming could occur (Winderlich 1996), and in 1958 more land was excised from the reserve to establish a national park (Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management and Parks Australia 2000).
In 1977 the park was declared under the Commonwealth National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1975, and vested in the Director of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (Woenne-Green et al. 1993), now known as Parks Australia. In 1979 a claim was lodged under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act of 1976 by the Central Land Council on behalf of the traditional owners for an area of land that included the park (Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management and Parks Australia 2000). The new Commonwealth government granted Anangu title for the land on the condition that it was leased back to the Director of Parks Australia (Australian Nature Conservation Agency 1995). In 1986 the park board of management was established with six Aboriginals among its ten members (de Villiers 1999a). Habitation and traditional (non-commercial) natural resource use continues and the park provides extensive identity- and culture-related benefits to its owners. Culture is recognised in all aspects of management: the park can be closed for cultural activities; Tjukurpa is its primary management value; consultation is broad; traditional skills are used in management; rock art, sacred sites, archaeological sites and artefacts are protected; tour operator accreditation ensures correct cultural information is disseminated; Aboriginal place names are used; and a cultural centre informs visitors about Aboriginal values. Parks Australia manages the park and covers the costs for this. It also runs the cultural heritage management programme and funds many essential village services (traditionally a local government responsibility). Aboriginal people must maintain traditional law, which includes caring for country and traditional sacred sites and ceremony, but little independent traditional management actually occurs.
Kakadu National Park, Australia
Kakadu National Park is located 120 km east of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is situated in the wet-dry tropics and thus receives heavy rain between December and March (Press et al. 1995). The deeply dissected Arnhem Land sandstone plateau and newer landscape formations provide sweeping vistas and spectacular natural beauty (Environment Australia 1999; Lawrence 2000). The park is World Heritage-listed for both cultural and natural values. Its cultural listing is primarily because it is one of the most important rock art regions in the world with over 5,000 recorded rock art sites (Kakadu Board of Management and Parks Australia 1999).
Aboriginal people have been continuously present in what is now Kakadu National Park for more than 50,000 years (Hill and Press 1994; Kakadu Board of Management and Parks Australia 1999; Roberts et al. 1990). Aboriginal people believe that the Kakadu landscape, with its plants, animals and Aboriginal people, was shaped by spiritual ancestors as they moved across the land during the time of creation. They bought with them laws to live by, ceremony, language, kinship, ecological knowledge and knowledge on how to live with and look after the land (Environment Australia 1998). Aboriginal people in Kakadu today are known as Bininj or Mungguy. In the nineteenth century Aboriginal people were relied on for their skills, knowledge and manpower in many small-scale enterprises started by Europeans, such as cattle farming and sawmills (Kakadu Board of Management and Parks Australia 1999). The estimated population of the area in the first half of the nineteenth century was 2,000, but following contact with Europeans, populations fell such that the number of people who could claim traditional attachment to the area was about eighty by the 1980s (Hill and Press 1994; Press et al. 1995).
Tourism began in the mid-twentieth century, and a national park in the Alligators river region was first proposed in 1965 (Anon 1996; Christian and Aldrick 1977; Davies 1999; Winderlich 1996). In 1973 the Commonwealth established an inquiry into the issue of Aboriginal rights in the Northern Territory. Results suggested that Aboriginal title combined with national park status and joint management would prove acceptable to all interests (Anon 1996; Hill and Press 1994). It was known that the area had considerable mineral wealth from the late nineteenth century, and when a formal proposal to develop the Ranger uranium deposit was submitted to the government in 1975, the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry was established to investigate the issue, focusing on the impacts of mining on Aboriginal people (Davies 1999; Hill and Press 1994; Kakadu Board of Management and Parks Australia 1999). In 1977 the Ranger Inquiry said that Aboriginal issues had much in common with conservation issues and recommended that title be granted to Aboriginal claimants, a large national park be established, and a plan of management be established in which Aboriginal views were strongly represented. It also recommended that uranium mining should proceed on leases excluded from, but surrounded by, the park (Anon 1996; Craig 1992; Davies 1999; Hill and Press 1994; Lawrence 2000).
Stage I of Kakadu was the first national park to be established on Aboriginal land (Anon 1996; Hill and Press 1994; Lawrence 2000). Later stages were declared over the next eighteen years as land claims were settled with different groups of Aboriginal owners and contracts signed (Kakadu Board of Management and Parks Australia 1999). The original Kakadu agreement effectively perpetuated an advisory role in management for traditional owners. This relied on the commitment and goodwill of conservation officials involved in day-to-day management to obtain Aboriginal input (Woenne-Green et al. 1993). Traditional owners became more formally involved in national park management in 1989 when, following the lead of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, a board of management with an Aboriginal majority was established under the National Parks and Wildlife Act (Craig 1992; Hill and Press 1994; Kakadu Board of Management and Parks Australia 1999; Weaver 1991; Woenne-Green et al. 1993). Habitation and traditional (non-commercial) natural resource continues. Park establishment has led to a reassertion of Aboriginal culture to the extent that any action that is 'substantially detrimental' to Aboriginal people is a breach of contract. Tourism is less important than cultural issues, and as at Uluru, culture is recognised in all aspects of management. Parks Australia manages the park and covers the costs of this. It also runs the cultural heritage management programme. As at Uluru, Aboriginal people must maintain traditional law, but little independent traditional management actually occurs. However, Aboriginal people may not want management responsibilities, and may be content providing input on policy, planning and cultural issues.
| Do Contractual National Parks Meet Conservation, Financial/Economic and Social Objectives?|| |
South African and Australian contractual national parks have much in common. Many (but by no means all) national parks in both countries were established on land forcibly obtained from local communities through discriminatory processes, and several contractual national parks have emerged from the complicated process of restoring land rights to these communities. Environmental justice is, therefore, an important common theme. Both countries have made progress regarding the creation of a legal framework to deal with local communities' rights to ancestral land, but both also demonstrate cases where land is only returned to communities on the condition that it is leased back to the national conservation authority. Contractual national parks in both countries are managed by joint management committees, which are also responsible for drawing up management plans and making decisions about park management. This Western management framework is technical and bureaucratic, and has been criticised for inhibiting effective joint management in both countries. Local landowners often lack fluency in English, particularly when it comes to conservation, business and technical matters, and low competencies in Western skills have limited the power that they can exert over the management of their land (de Villiers 1999b). This is particularly true of indigenous landowners such as the San and Aboriginal people, who have a very different life view to their co-management partners or more modern black African groups such as the Makuleke community (Bird Rose 2000; Smith et al. 2000; Trudgen 2000).
There are also considerable differences between Australian and South African contractual national parks. Some of these relate to the individual circumstances in which each park was established, but others relate to the national policy, governance and socio-economic environment in which joint management operates. Aboriginal Australians generally have stronger cultural links with land than South Africans (although such links are also seen amongst the San), and contractual national park owners have a variety of different cultural, economic, social and political expectations from co-management. Despite these differences, experiences show that Australia is closer to achieving ecological, economic and social sustainability for its contractual national parks than South Africa.
Conservation in Australian contractual national parks focuses as much on cultural conservation as it does on ecological conservation, and contractual national parks are viewed as living cultural landscapes. This compares with South Africa where conservation authorities still sometimes deny that land now incorporated into protected areas ever had a history of resource use or habitation by local people.
South Africa's long history of dispossession (in addition to population growth, migration to urban areas and other factors) has meant that connections between local communities and land are weaker than those seen in Australia, where Aboriginal groups show strong links to specific parts of the country, and where traditional land management systems still operate. These systems have, to varying degrees, been incorporated into management by Parks Australia, whereas management still follows Western scientific practices in South Africa. It should be noted, however, that contractual national parks have often been established in both South Africa and Australia on land of little significant biodiversity value, and that economic benefits, opportunism and prevention of development are also factors motivating their establishment (DEAT 2001).
In South Africa control over use of natural resources in contractual national parks is generally externally imposed. The only exception is the Makuleke region where limited commercial hunting is occurring under the control of the community and to which SANP is only able to object if it is deemed unsustainable.  In Australia, Aboriginal people have full access to resources in contractual national parks, and dictate their own levels of resource use. Minimal commercial use of native flora and fauna occurs, but this may change in the future, and there are several commercial operations that harvest non-native animals (Greg Miles, personal communication, 2000). Predictions about the overuse of natural resources by indigenous people have not been realised to date, and no park conservation objectives have been significantly compromised by Aboriginal habitation or resource use (Manfred Haala, personal communication, 2000). Indeed, Aboriginal traditional owners have contributed to conservation activities, for example, with their knowledge of land management techniques such as fire management, and other ecological knowledge such as animal tracking (Manfred Haala, Peter Cochrane, Tony Tjamiwa, Joanne Willmot, Ngoingoi Donald and Paul Josif, personal communication, 2000). In reality, SANP perhaps has less cause for concern than it imagines about involvement of communities in contractual national parks leading to compromised conservation objectives.
Contractual status can, nevertheless, also exacerbate problems with effective conservation of biodiversity. For example, whilst grazing in the Richtersveld National Park contributes to biodiversity (SPP 1989), the stock ceiling is probably twice the optimum for conservation purposes (Howard Hendricks, personal communication, 2000). Thus, conservation authorities should be aware that contractual agreements will almost inevitably mean that some conservation objectives will be compromised. No habitation is allowed in South African contractual national parks, except for Postberg where landowners have holiday homes. In contrast, both Australian parks have Aboriginal populations, which are rapidly increasing along with associated problems such as littering, pets and increased resource use. There are also concerns regarding future control over developments such as outstations (Greg Miles, personal communication, 2000), buffalo farms and other industries in Kakadu. Some Aboriginal owners would like more of these developments, and the secretive nature of the board, as well as the unwillingness of Aboriginal board members to disagree with development proposals on another clan's country (Fraser, Vickery, Leroy Lester, Greg Miles and Terry Bailey, personal communication, 2000), may mean that such developments will not be curbed. The buffalo farm is not sustainable although its effect is localised (Davies 1999), and some Aboriginal owners support more mining in the future, which could lead to more infrastructure development, and possible pollution of groundwater (Kakadu Board of Management and Parks Australia 1999). Removal of feral animals is sometimes resisted by traditional owners, who use them for food, pets and for commercial purposes (Jo-Ann Mitchell, Peter Cochrane, Terry Bailey and Peter Wellings, personal communication, 2000). Lead shot is used and some native animals are also hunted, which concerns conservationists, particularly when animals are rare (Davies et al. 1999). Tourism may also increase in the future as Aboriginal people become more interested in benefits from commercialisation (PAN 1997). In Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, weed species are more prevalent due to Aboriginal firewood collection, driving across the land, and alternative concepts of what plant species do or do not belong in the national park (Graham Griffin, personal communication, 2000). Off-road driving and firewood collection also increase erosion (Sam Rando and Graham Griffin, personal communication, 2000). Aboriginal owners are not always in favour of culling non-native species, and as at Kakadu, their dogs may hybridise with native dingos (Sam Rando and Tina Bain, personal communication, 2000).
Two key reasons why Australian contractual national parks are more likely to meet long-term conservation objectives for the whole country than their South African counterparts are their size and length of contract [Table 3]. Most South African contractual national parks are relatively small at 50,000 ha or less, and contract length can be as short as twenty-four years. Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kakadu are generally larger and have longer lease terms. Nevertheless, the Kakadu leases can end early if any activities occur that are deemed detrimental to Aboriginal wishes (Kakadu Board of Management and Parks Australia 1999).
Financial Factors for the Conservation Authority
None of the contractual national parks were able to cover their management costs with income from tourism [Table 4]. Part of the losses in South Africa can be attributed to SANP's limited vision with respect to income generation from tourism and reluctance to invest in promotion and tourism infrastructure (David Fig, personal communication, 2002). Furthermore, nearly all contractual national parks incur considerably larger management costs than if they were only managed by the conservation authority as opposed to co-managed. The high costs of comanagement in Australia have been noted previously (Davies et al. 1999). At Uluru-Kata Tjuta, it was estimated that 55 per cent of the 1999-2000 budget was spent on the additional costs of joint management, and in Kakadu about 43 per cent of the annual budget is spent on the additional costs of joint management (Reid 2002). Traditional owners have also limited the extent of tourism development (Greg Miles, Graham Griffen, Sam Rando, Paul Josif and Fraser Vickery, personal communication, 2000), although this may change in the future as Aboriginal people become increasingly interested in benefiting from commercialisation. However, cultural attractions in both Australian contractual national parks have increased income from tourism (Adam Millar and Peter Wellings, personal communication, 2000). In South Africa the Richtersveld National Park and Postberg also cost considerably more to co-manage (Reid 2002). However, the contractual national park status of Kempiana provides no additional management costs, and both Makuleke and the proposed contractual national park in the Kalahari may even prove to be financially advantageous for SANP. The Makuleke community will take responsibility for 50 per cent of management costs when the CPA can afford it (agreement of 1998), while proposals in the Kalahari indicate that SANP may benefit from joint tourism initiatives with the San, particularly if such initiatives capitalise on cultural attractions (Social Ecology and SANP 2000). However, additional management costs will probably arise, and SANP has already agreed to give 50 per cent of the profits from a new lodge near the proposed contractual area to the San (David Grossman, personal communication, 2000).
Although no contractual national parks were financially viable at the local level (because the additional costs of joint management absorb between one fourth and half of most contractual national park budgets), both Uluru and Kakadu contribute millions to the national economy (Hill and Press 1994; Fraser Vickery, Paul Josif, Terry Bailey, Greg Miles and Ian Irvine, personal communication, 2000). Although these contractual national parks easily justify retention from an economic perspective, government subsidies to Parks Australia are being cut (Fraser Vickery, personal communication, 2000) even though Australia can afford to be more generous to its previously disadvantaged minority population than South Africa can to its majority population. The South African government currently provides 15 per cent of SANP's annual budget (Ledger 1998), but this subvention is also being cut (SANP 1998, 2001). Therefore, when looked at from a purely financial perspective, SANP cannot afford to establish more contractual national parks unless they can provide the organisation with financial benefits. However, the probability of this is low, especially considering that even with as significant a tourism attraction as Uluru, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park costs nearly twice as much to manage as Parks Australia earns from tourism.
Financial Factors for the Landowners
Direct cash payments to landowning communities occurred in most Australian and South African contractual national parks studied [Table 5]. In Australia this does not amount to more than about AU$ 3,000 per traditional owner per year and meant that owners may not have qualified for steadier income from pensions (Jo-Ann Mitchell, personal communication, 2000). At Uluru, money is equitably distributed between seventy agreed family heads (Paul Josif, Joanne Willmot, Graham Griffin, Malya Teamay and Ngoingoi Donald, personal communication, 2000), but at Kakadu, money is given to individual traditional owners older than eighteen (Jo-Ann Mitchell, Peter Wellings, Zig Madycki and Peter Cochrane, personal communication, 2000). In South Africa, lease money, when paid, goes into a trust fund or business account for the landowners, none of whom receive individual cash payments.
One third of the staff at Uluru and Kakadu are Aboriginal people (Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management and Parks Australia 2000; Terry Bailey, personal communication, 2000), and both contractual national parks recognise the value of Aboriginal skills in various management tasks, for example, by employing cultural advisers, traditional consultants or community liaison officers. Aboriginal employees are provided with a certain degree of flexibility in their working conditions in order for employment to be more compatible with their culture (Greg Miles and Ian Irvine, personal communication, 2000), but this is limited by the requirements and conditions of public service (Terry Bailey, personal communication, 2000). Furthermore, both parks provide contract work to Aboriginal groups, and Aboriginal organisations or organisations that benefit Aboriginal people are chosen over non-Aboriginal organisations at Kakadu, even if they are up to 10 per cent more expensive (Manfred Haala and Ian Irvine, personal communication, 2000). At Kakadu, Aboriginal people provide 95 per cent of day labour (Terry Bailey, personal communication, 2000). Employment provision at Uluru has been criticised for: not providing enough training; not being flexible enough (OJM 1999); employing non-local Aboriginal people (Graham Griffin and Joanne Willmot, personal communication, 2000); failing to ensure that Aboriginal people are promoted, especially senior traditional owners; and inconsistent funding of youth employment (OJM 1999). Criticism at Kakadu has included the fact that Western rather than Aboriginal competencies are still required for most management tasks (PAN 1997). Despite this, Parks Australia has made considerably more effort than SANP regarding employment of community landowners in their contractual national parks, with the exception of the Richtersveld National Park, which has employed sixteen local people. SANP could do more to encourage employment of landowners, both within SANP and through secondary park industries. For example, SANP could broaden job descriptions to include traditional skills, provide appropriate training, and use innovative strategies such as the job pairing and work experience schemes, and preferential employment for contract work or day labour as seen in Australia.
Considerably more training has also taken place in Australia, where both contractual national parks have a training officer. The training officer in Kakadu has an annual budget of AU$ 160,000 (Jo-Ann Mitchell, personal communication, 2000). Although not all training programmes have proven as effective as anticipated (Lawrence 1999), six ranger training programmes have taken place since 1979 (Davies 1999). In contrast, little training has taken place in South Africa despite promises made by SANP in some contractual national parks, such as the Makuleke region (Gibson Maluleke, Mavis Hatlani and Dennis Skalela, personal communication, 2000). Younger people are being trained in tourism and conservation at Makuleke, but not by SANP. However, after fifteen years of joint management and numerous training programmes in Australia, Aboriginal people still lack enough skills to gain top management positions, and are no closer to independent management of each contractual national park than they were at the outset. Landowning communities in South Africa would therefore be wise to look to the private sector as well as SANP if they wish to develop their skills.
Involvement with the tourism industry can provide considerably more benefits to communities in terms of employment and training than involvement with the conservation authority. The owners of contractual national parks in South Africa engage with park tourism operations to varying degrees. The Makuleke community has almost total control over tourism operations to the extent that a community decision regarding a commercial venture is deemed a decision of the Joint Management Board once it has been tabled at a Joint Management Board meeting (agreement of 1998).  Landowners of both Makuleke and Kempiana lease out commercial operations and receive a stake in the profits, but the Postberg and Richtersveld landowners have no involvement with tourism. In all cases SANP does little to facilitate community involvement with the private sector. In contrast, Parks Australia does much more to encourage Aboriginal participation in tourism operations. Aboriginal organisations, or those that maximise benefits to Aboriginal people, have preference over non-Aboriginal groups for commercial operations (Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management and Parks Australia 2000; Manfred Haala, personal communication, 2000), and some areas of Kakadu are reserved for exclusive use by such organisations (Kakadu Board of Management and Parks Australia 1999). Both Uluru and Kakadu actively promote the sale of Aboriginal art in park shops, and each park contains numerous successful Aboriginal businesses. Considerably more benefits could be channelled into South African communities if SANP adopted a more innovative approach to community involvement with tourism.
The political status of Aboriginal people in Australia differs fundamentally from that of previously disadvantaged black South Africans. The South African govern ment is committed to land reform and economic empowerment of black South Africans, who constitute the majority of the population. However, in Australia, federal and state governments are reluctant to support native title, and land restoration occurs as a gesture of minority protection subject to the will of the majority (de Villiers 1999b). Despite this, there is considerably more commitment from the Australian government and Parks Australia to provide Aboriginal people with social benefits from joint management compared to South Africa. In Australia cultural conservation is at least as important as biodiversity conservation, and social issues have higher priority in joint management than ecological issues. In South Africa it remains unclear whether SANP aims to prioritise biodiversity conservation or community involvement in contractual national parks, while conservation activities focus on biodiversity rather than culture. As a result, the objectives of communities and the conservation authority differ more than in Australia, where conservation objectives are more inclusive of community issues. Parks Australia demonstrates more true commitment to community involvement than SANP, where policy commitments to community involvement are often not implemented on the ground. For example, in both the Kalahari and the Makuleke regions, SANP undermined community tourism ventures by embarking on a process to commercialise lodges on land next to the contractual areas (David Grossman, personal communication, 2000). In the Makuleke region this resulted in several potential private sector partners withdrawing their bids for lodge development (Livingstone Makuleke and Gibson Maluleke, personal communication, 2000).
The Australian legislative and fiscal policy environment is also more favourable for joint management initiatives and for the accrual of social benefits to contractual national park owners than it is in South Africa. Australian legislation details the powers and responsibilities of joint management boards, management plans are ratified by parliament, the Australian government provides considerable subsidies to both Uluru and Kakadu, and there is minimal involvement of non-governmental organisations. In South Africa, by comparison, there is little legislative support for joint management, little government involvement except at the contract signing stage, and non-governmental organisations often provide essential support for the process, particularly when landowners are from previously disadvantaged communities.
Australia also recognises that each party's objectives for the contractual national park evolve over time, and that joint management is a dynamic process, which needs to be continually re-evaluated in order to retain its legitimacy and strength. Contracts have been renewed, and plans of management are rewritten every five years. In contrast, minimal contract or management plan renewal has occurred in South Africa, and, as of 2003, the first plan of management had not yet been passed in the Richtersveld or Kempiana. The resulting environment is one dominated by SANP, which effectively takes control of each contractual national park rather than managing each according to legitimate contracts and management plans, which accurately represent the views of contractual owners.
Both Uluru and Kakadu have mechanisms in place to ensure that traditional owners play a meaningful role in joint management despite the power imbalances resulting from their having to operate within an almost entirely Western policy and management framework. Both boards of management have a majority of traditional owners, while some of those that are not traditional owners are also individuals who are nominated by various ministers and must be acceptable to traditional owners. Parks Australia is only represented by one or two officials on each board, none of whom are park staff. This promotes the notion that Parks Australia is merely the agent of the board rather than an equal partner in decision making as in South Africa, where boards tend to be constituted of almost equal numbers of landowners and SANP officials. When employing park staff, Aboriginal people constitute the majority of employment selection panels, and job preferences are given to individuals who have experience working with Aboriginal people (Peter Cochrane and Terry Bailey, personal communication, 2000). Park owners are rarely involved in employee selection in South African contractual national parks, and employment criteria focus little on cultural issues. Most South African and Australian contractual national park contracts or management plans detail some kind of conflict resolution mechanisms. However, in Australia, these mechanisms dictate that the interests of traditional owners are of paramount importance when resolving conflict, and that traditional owners may withdraw from the contractual agreement if any action occurs that is 'substantially detrimental' to their interests (Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management and Parks Australia, 2000).
Finally, traditional owners in Australia have more self-expression regarding ownership and use rights in the contractual national park (Graham Griffin, personal communication, 2000). For example, an Aboriginal person could use resources on another person's country if (under traditional law) they have permission, or they have kinship, marriage or ceremonial links there (Malya Teamay, Joanne Willmot, Lizzie Ellis, Terry Bailey, Greg Miles and Zig Madycki, personal communication, 2000). By contrast, ownership in South Africa must be defined within a Western legal framework, and little utilisation of natural resources occurs (Reid 2002). Problems arise under both management frameworks. For example, the Botswana San who once used Kalahari Gemsbok National Park land are being marginalised from negotiations and ensuing use rights (Nigel Crawhall, personal communication, 2000), and there is concern over hunting by non-local Aboriginal people at Kakadu (Fred Baird, Peter Wellings and Mary Blyth, personal communication, 2001).
| Lessons Learned|| |
This article has shown that joint management initiatives in South Africa and Australia have made significant progress regarding achieving ecological, social and financial/economic sustainability, both for landowners and the conservation authority. It is also worth noting that sustainability at all of these levels is not a prerequisite for success, and that the contractual national park model can accommodate such flexible objectives. For example, Kempiana has little biodiversity value, but generates a huge amount of revenue for less lucrative conservation activities elsewhere. Likewise, Postberg's owners need little by way of social/ development benefits, but contractual national park status provides protection to land that might otherwise be at risk.
In view of the achievements demonstrated by contractual national parks owned by previously disadvantaged communities, this study suggests that we should build on such CBC initiatives rather than revert to top-down protectionist approaches to conservation. Successful CBC initiatives take longer to evolve and are more expensive to implement than alternative top-down approaches, and the numerous stakeholders and other variables involved mean that the 'recipe for success' is complicated (see Hackel 1998; Murphree 1998, 2000). However, this study suggests that calls to abandon CBC are premature, particularly in view of the fact that such initiatives are in their early days, much of the criticism levelled at them is flawed, and full devolution rarely occurs (Brechin et al. 2001; Wilshusen et al. 2001). In many circumstances CBC provides the only opportunity to conserve biodiversity whilst alleviating poverty. Policy makers in high-income countries need to recognise this and place CBC higher up their political agenda. Likewise, policy makers and donors in poorer nations need to provide renewed support for CBC initiatives.
Specific steps that South Africa could take, learning from Australia's considerable experience with joint management, include: emphasising the importance of cultural conservation and non-Western management practises; increasing flexibility regarding habitation and resource use in protected areas; innovative approaches to increasing income from tourism, perhaps capitalising on cultural attractions; providing strong justification for state subvention; creative approaches to raising community employment levels; facilitating involvement with the private sector to raise employment and training levels; ensuring legislation, contracts and joint management plans are up to date, and providing appropriate support for equitable joint management; recognising and supporting the dynamic nature of joint management; and facilitating equitable power sharing through innovative joint management board structures, employment strategies and conflict resolution mechanisms. The authors propose a new forum for public debate to stimulate discussion and action around these proposed steps, and build on work conducted by the Group for Environmental Monitoring's People and Parks project in the mid-1990s, and the SANP Social Ecology conference in 2000.
Acknowledgements: This research was funded primarily by the Leverhulme Trust through a Study Abroad Studentship. The Margaret Pollock Fund and the Horsman Fund of Somerville College, University of Oxford, provided additional funding.
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[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]