Negotiating boundaries : (co)-managing natural and urban areas on the Cape Peninsula

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The opportunities and constraints experienced in managing abutting urban and natural areas represent a microcosm of the issues facing future conservation practices. The focal areas for this study are Kommetjie and Ocean View -- two adjacent but insulated communities, that reflect basic socio-economic characteristics of South African cities, and situated amidst the natural areas of the Cape Peninsula. Current theoretical perspectives on natural and urban areas fail to offer a practical approach to inform integrated and equitable management of these ostensibly disparate realms of the environment. Although largely based in rural research, political ecology, which embraces a multidisciplinary perspective, promotes an integrated framework for managing adjacent urban and natural boundaries of the kind associated with the Cape Peninsula. Using conventional botanical methods, evidence in the case studies suggests that a relationship exists between environmental degradation in natural areas and the proximity of urban settlements. Moreover, the nature of environmental degradation seems contingent on the level of economic development of local communities. A social analysis of the communities reveals that co-operative management between landowners and key-players on either side of the boundary is similarly hindered by socio-economic factors. Using an adaptation of Blaikie's (1995b) "Chain of Explanation", the interactions between Kommetjie and Ocean View, and surrounding natural areas are integrated in an analysis which crosses disciplinary divides, and exposes the relationship between local environmental conditions and broader social issues. The boundary of a national park is not sufficient to manage the interactions between protected areas and neighbouring communities, but must be supported by partnerships between city and conservation authorities, NGOs, private landowners and residents in ways that address the needs of neighbouring communities. To facilitate local involvement in the management of the environment, residents, both rich and poor, must understand how the state of the environment directly affects their lives.

Bibliography: leaves 178-189.