Publications of Mmethi, Helen

Anthony BP, Mmethi H, Anthony R. Community fora as vehicles of change? The Hlanganani Forum and Kruger National Park, South Africa. In: Principles of Environmental Policy: Local, European and Global Perspectives. Pskov: Pskov State University; 2018. p. 279-340.

Community fora as vehicles of change? The Hlanganani Forum and Kruger National Park, South Africa

This chapter examines the relationship between the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa, and rural Tsonga communities located adjacent to its western border. Some of these communities are represented on the Hlanganani Forum, which liaises with the Park and was established in 1994 when South Africa became a new democracy. The historical background of these communities is characterized by a perceived inadequacy of compensation for their loss of access to resources within the KNP and to damage caused by wildlife escaping from the park (Cock & Fig, 2000; Freitag-Ronaldson & Foxcroft, 2003). These historical conflicts continued to occur through the dynamic economic and political transformations within South Africa since 1994. Post-Apartheid changes have witnessed a transformation in KNP policies, which are now more socially inclusive and seek to integrate its core biodiversity conservation objectives with socioeconomic ones, designed to assimilate the park into the broader socioeconomic landscape and improve relations with its neighboring communities. We highlight some of the challenges to the process of integrating biodiversity conservation and rural development in the communal areas of South Africa. This objective is part of a more general problem concerning participation in resource management by rural communities living in the neighborhoods of national parks and other protected areas. Although the focus here is on interactions between South Africa's KNP and its neighboring communities, the findings have relevance and resonance beyond Africa as they raise key questions that can be considered in similar contexts.