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Title: Assessing successful land claims and the pursuit of co-management in protected areas : a case of Tala Private Game Reserve
Authors: Qwatekana, Zikho 
Issue Date: Aug-2017
The government of South Africa has justifiable aims to address the injustices of the past, by calling on people who were dispossessed of their land rights through racially discriminatory laws since June 1913 to reclaim their land. Consequently, the Land Claims Commission has reported 150 claims in protected areas of South Africa. This has led to an agreement between the Ministers of Environmental Affairs and Land Affairs to facilitate a national approach for settlement of all claims within protected areas: co-management.

This study sought to explore land claims in South Africa’s protected areas by assessing the co-management model used by the government to resolve these claims. This qualitative study was conducted to assess the appropriateness of co-management as the only strategy for resolving land claims within protected areas. The research was guided by four research objectives: (1) To explore the tourism potential of game reserves to derive economic benefits for claimant communities; (2) To determine community attitudes towards co-management agreements employed at reserves; (3) To ascertain the level of co-operation amongst stakeholders to ensure that the co-management agreements employed at reserves remains successful; (4) To establish the extent to which co-management agreements address and protect community land rights.

The study employed a case-study approach, using a resolved land Claim at Tala Private Game Reserve. The game reserve is owned by the Nkumbuleni Community Trust, which represents the 211household removed from this land in the 1970s. Following the success of their claim in 2011 a co-management agreement was signed giving the community 70 percent ownership of the game reserve.A purposive sample was selected from the claimant community and a saturation sample from the game reserve’s management. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to provide in-depth understanding of the phenomenon under study.

The findings reflect that co-management may be a logical approach to involving local communities in protected area management. It remains inconsistent and flawed, however, as a model to address land claims through reconciling the needs of conservation for tourism with land rights. This study argued that co- management may be a logical approach to involving the Nkumbuleni community in the administration of the game reserve.

Recommendations arising from the study include but are not limited to the following:

• Processes aimed at redressing past injustice in disputes over conservation land, regardless of the approach adopted, must bring with them a strong commitment to building institutional and leadership capacities within communities, and pay serious attention to the ways in which equity and social justice can be fostered after the settlement of a land claim.

• Government must recognize that sufficient time and resources are fundamental to the success of co-management projects, and ensure that commitment to and funding for such projects are in place, including adequate support structures and training facilities;

• Where the feasibility of the settlement option chosen is in doubt, there should be an option for a review of this option after a stipulated period;

• Government must support all available settlement options, since in some cases alternatives, like lease-back or financial compensation, could provide better alternatives for communities; and

• The community must be advised that co-management does not provide immediate benefits but involves risk-taking and benefit-sharing for all parties involved.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for a Master‘s Degree in Management Sciences: Tourism and Hospitality Management, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2017.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Management Sciences)

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