Community perceptions towards nature conservation in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Daniel Angwenyi, Martin Potgieter, James Gambiza
2021 Nature Conservation  
Relationships between protected area managers and adjacent communities, as well as communities' attitudes, views and perceptions of these areas, are critical for the success of conservation efforts. It is important for protected area managers and administrators to understand how local communities view these areas and their management, so that they can build sustainable working rel ationships. This paper is based on a survey of 375 semi-structured questionnaires administered to household heads,
more » ... iving at distances ranging from the edge of the reserves to 50 km away from the reserve boundary across the Great Fish River, Mkambati, Hluleka, and Tsolwana nature reserves in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The paper provides a longitudinal assessment of households' knowledge about the role of reserves and the reserves' impacts on livelihood assets. In addition to households' knowledge about the role of reserves, the paper also provides an assessment of people's attitudes towards their location and management, as well as views on the best way to manage the reserves. For 79% of community members, reserves were important as they were seen to conserve biodiversity and valuable ecological systems necessary for sustaining life. Most (75%) respondents indicated that closely located reserves gave them opportunities to learn about nature conservation and to subsidize their incomes through tourism ventures. However, 58% had a problem with reserves' staff, due to restrictions on resource use, which negatively impacted their livelihoods. Over half (51%) of the households argued that sustainable conservation can only be achieved through an integrated approach where conservation and local communities' needs are given equal weight. We concluded that reserve managers should look at communities as active partners in the management of protected areas if sustainable conservation objectives are to be realised.
doi:10.3897/natureconservation.43.57935 fatcat:mktannjtnvgwrif5jricynqg2a