False legitimacies: The rhetoric of economic opportunities in the expansion of conservation areas in Southern Africa

S.A. Bologna, M.J. Spierenburg

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The trend to expand conservation areas by creating linking corridors or
transfrontier conservation areas has become increasingly prevalent in southern
Africa over the last 20 years. In the marketing of these initiatives as the way forward
in conservation, strong emphasis is placed on the economic opportunities they
allegedly generate for local communities. In addition, many ecologists and
conservationists stress the ecological logic of linking conservation areas to allow for
the migration of species. Using the example of Madikwe Game Reserve, in South
Africa’s North West Province—where a proposed ‘Heritage Park’ initiative aims to
create a conservation corridor connecting Madikwe and Pilanesberg game reserves,
and eventually to extend the park across the border into Botswana—we explore
infl uences and pressures that fuel and justify this expansionist trend, and discuss the
complex repercussions arising from such policies. The chapter focuses on the
rhetoric of economic opportunities and poverty alleviation and the perceived logic,
on the part of many ecologists and conservationists, that wildlife corridors and the
expansion of protected areas are the way forward for conservation. We raise a
number of ecological and economic contradictions and we argue that a focus on
expansion not only further marginalizes local populations but can also be seen as a
way to avoid dealing with the management of wildlife (over)populations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInstitutional arrangements for conservation, development and tourism in Eastern and Southern Africa: a dynamic perspective
EditorsR. van der Duim, M. Lamers, J. van Wijk
Place of PublicationHeidelberg, New York, London
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9789401795296
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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