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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 586-611

Linking Neoprotectionism and Environmental Governance: On the Rapidly Increasing Tensions between Actors in the Environment-Development Nexus


1 Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and, Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
2 School of Social Sciences, University of Queensland; and, TPARI and Department of Geography, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Correspondence Address:
Bram Buscher
De Boelelaan 1081c-Room Z121, Amsterdam 1081 HV, The Netherlands.

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There are rapidly increasing tensions between actors engaged in the governance of environment and natural resources in Africa. This becomes clear when reviewing current trends in the conservation-development debate and combining these insights with trends in environmental governance, most especially the commodification of 'nature' under pressures of neoliberalism. Our argument starts by showing how the conservation-development debate has become polarised due to increasing criticism of community-based ap­proaches to nature conservation and how these unfold in terms of value and scale. We argue that the strong sense of urgency involved in this neoprotec­tionist turn amongst conservation practitioners has been reciprocated by an equally strong reply from community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) advocates, thereby further straining the choices that must be made with respect to conservation practice. Through a discussion of the current neoliberal turn in environmental governance, we suggest that the potential of actors to promote divergent and ambiguous values in policy and practice across scale has increased over the past decade and will continue to do so. This, in turn, may lead to environmental governance that favours the 'sus­tained' polarisation of actors' priorities in research and policy concerning conservation-development. We provide evidence for our case with empirical data from research done on the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) in Southern Africa.


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