Connecting people and nature in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area: a study of power, scale and multiple perspectives in Southern Africa
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 01:39 authored by Ropafadzo Kelebuhile Moyo
Over the past two decades, the use of Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) as a strategy to preserve Southern Africa’s natural heritage has increased. TFCAs bestride the borders of two or more countries and are jointly managed by the countries involved for conservation purposes. However, TFCAs are critiqued for side-lining certain natural resource users, particularly local communities (Borrini & Jaireth 2007, Ramutsindela 2005, Ramutsindela 2004, Leach et al. 1999). A growing body of research shows that protected areas and conservation strategies cannot protect natural resources in the long term without involving local communities in planning and implementation (Lele et al. 2010). This thesis uses a case study of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA) to examine power relations that occur at multiple scales in nature conservation. KAZA-TFCA is the world’s largest TFCA, encompassing 5 nation-states in Southern Africa - Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Guided by qualitative data, this thesis explores the multiple perspectives of different KAZA-TFCA stakeholders – human and non-human. Specifically, the thesis analyses KAZA-TFCA through three scaled lenses. Firstly, it focuses on the creation and implementation of KAZA-TFCA itself as a new regional scale of conservation governance. Secondly, it focuses on the role of the nation-state within KAZA-TFCA through the lens of one of KAZA-TFCA’s key players – Zimbabwe. Finally, it focuses on the north-west sector of Zimbabwe to enable a more nuanced local understanding of how power flows through and shapes human and non-human relationships in KAZA-TFCA. Findings suggest that processes occurring at different scales and involving different stakeholders and non-stakeholders brush up against each other and directly affect what is happening within the TFCA. By examining how different actors from different positions of power and authority engage with conservation processes within KAZA-TFCA, the thesis reveals the contradictory and consonant practices that are shaping conservation and development in KAZA-TFCA. The results illustrate how power and scale interrelate and result in exclusionary conservation practices in transboundary conservation, especially exclusion of local – human and non-human - communities. The thesis contributes to emerging debates on power and participation in nature conservation spheres and opens spaces for rethinking human and non-human relationships.