Advertisement

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 10, pp 2601–2623 | Cite as

Parks-people conflicts: the case of Gonarezhou National Park and the Chitsa community in south-east Zimbabwe

  • Solomon Mombeshora
  • Sebastien Le BelEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

National parks have been the centre piece of international conservation strategies in developing countries. The expansion in the network of national parks has enabled the conservation of biodiversity and habitats but the acquisition of vast areas into the park system has often been achieved through the displacement of resident local communities. Displaced people are exposed to a variety of impoverishment risks and this stokes up animosity towards parks. The research reported here seeks to understand the key issues involved in the occupation of a section of Gonarezhou National Park by Headman Chitsa’s people. The paper examines how the interplay between the history of displacement and dispossession, demographic pressures, limited economic opportunities, the ‘fast track’ land reform programme and dynastic politics are fomenting the land conflict between Gonarezhou and Chitsa community. Secondary actors with diverse interests have also come into the fold. Official efforts to resolve the conflict using a top-down approach have yielded little success. This culminated in a shift towards the use of traditional mechanisms of resolving a chieftaincy dispute as a step towards addressing the broader parks-people land conflict. Lessons from the case study are, inter alia, that interventions aimed at resolving parks-people conflicts should be alive to local culture, livelihood needs and power dynamics and, to the extent possible, eschew forcible relocations. Finally, we draw attention to the need to address the wider contradiction between policies promoting wildlife conservation and those promoting agriculture. The article is written to share lessons with readers interested in parks-people conflicts.

Keywords

Chitsa community Conflict Conflict resolution mechanisms Conservation Displacement Gonarezhou National Park Impoverishment risks Lessons learnt 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank FFEM for funding through the Bio-Hub platform. However, the views expressed in this paper are the responsibility of the authors. The authors would also like to express their immense gratitude to the reviewers of Biodiversity and Conservation for constructive comments that have enriched our treatment of parks-people conflicts. We would also like to thank the Chitsa Task Force and the Chitsa people for making our research possible. Finally, we would like to thank participants at the symposium held in Tapoa, Niger for comments on our presentation.

References

  1. Adams W, Hulme D (2001) Changing narratives, policies & practices in African conservation. In: Hulme D, Murphree M (eds) African wildlife and livelihoods. James Currey, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams W, Hutton J (2007) People, parks and poverty: political ecology and biodiversity conservation. Conserv Soc 5(2):147–183Google Scholar
  3. Amend S, Amend T (eds) (1995) National parks without people? The South American experience. IUCN, Gland, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson D, Grove R (1987) The scramble for Eden: Past, present and future in African conservation. In: Anderson D, Grove R (eds) Conservation in Africa: people, policies and practice. Cambridge, Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Bannerman JH (1980) A short political and economic history of the Tsovani, Chitsa and Mahenye dynasties of Ndanga, Chiredzi and Chipinge districts to CA.1950. National Archives, Zimbabwe Access No. 32514Google Scholar
  6. Beinart W (1989) Introduction: the politics of colonial conservation. J South Afr Stud 15(2):143–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brockington D (2002) Fortress conservation: the preservation of the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania. James Currey, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Brockington D, Homewood K (1996) Wildlife, pastoralists and science: debates concerning Mkomazi Game Reserve, Tanzania. In: Leach M, Mearns R (eds) The lie of the land. James Currey, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Brockington D, Igoe J (2006) Eviction for conservation: a global overview. Conserv Soc 4(3):424–470Google Scholar
  10. Carruthers J (1995) The Kruger National Park: a social and political history. University of Natal Press, PietermaritzburgGoogle Scholar
  11. Central Statistical Office (1992) Census 1992: Zimbabwe national report. Central Statistical Office, HarareGoogle Scholar
  12. Cernea M (1997) Hydropower dams and social impacts: a sociological perspective. World Bank Environment Department Paper No. 16Google Scholar
  13. Cernea M (2006) Setting new standards for conservation: displacement redefined. BioSoc: The Biodiversity and Society Bulletin Issue 6, August 2006Google Scholar
  14. Cernea M, Schmidt-Soltau K (2003a) Biodiversity conservation versus population resettlement: risks to nature and risks to people. Paper presented at the international conference on rural livelihoods, forests and biodiversity, Bonn, Germany, 19–23 May 2003. http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/publications/corporate/cd-roms/bonn-proc/pdfs/papers/T4_FINAL_Cernea.pdf. Accessed Jan 2009
  15. Cernea M, Schmidt-Soltau K (2003b) The end of forcible displacements? Making conservation and impoverishment incompatible. Policy matters 12:42–52Google Scholar
  16. Chaumba J et al (2003) New politics, new livelihoods: Changes in the Zimbabwean lowveld since the farm occupations of 2000. Sustainable Livelihoods in Southern Africa Research Paper 3. Institute of Development Studies, BrightonGoogle Scholar
  17. Child B (2004) Introduction. In: Child B (ed) Parks in transition. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Colchester M (2002) Salvaging Nature: indigenous people, protected areas and biodiversity conservation. http://www.wrm.org.uy/subjects/nature.html. Accessed Jan 2009
  19. de Wet C (2000) The experience with dams and resettlement in Africa. http://www.dams.org. Accessed Jan 2009
  20. Dowie M (2005) Conservation refugees: when protecting nature means kicking people out. Orion 1:6–27Google Scholar
  21. Economic Commission for Africa (2007) Relevance of African traditional institutions of governance. ECA, Addis Ababa. http://www.uneca.org. Accessed Jan 2009
  22. Emerton L (1999) Balancing the opportunity costs of wildlife conservation for communities around Lake Mburo National Park, Uganda. Evaluating Eden Discussion Paper No. 5. IIED, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Escobar A (1999) After nature: steps to an anti-essentialist political ecology. Curr Anthropol 40:1–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. FAO (2007) Negotiation and mediation techniques for natural resource management. File://E:\FAO-negotiation and mediation techniques for natural resource management.htm. Accessed Nov 2007Google Scholar
  25. Feeney T (1993) The impact of a European Community Project on peasant families in Uganda. Oxfam Briefing No. 6:1–7Google Scholar
  26. Griffin J et al (1999) Study on the development of transboundary natural resource management in southern Africa. Biodiversity Support Programme, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  27. Haas P (1992) Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy coordination. Int Organ 46:1–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hulme D, Murphree M (2001) Community conservation in Africa: an introduction. In: Hulme D, Murphree (eds) African wildlife and livelihoods. James Currey, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  29. Infield M (2003) National parks as cultural entities. Policy matters 12:64–70Google Scholar
  30. IUCN (1994) Guidelines for protected area management categories. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  31. IUCN (2005) Benefits beyond boundaries: Proceedings of the Vth World Parks Congress. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  32. Jackson P (1992) Maps of meaning. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Jacques AA (1938) Swivongo swa Machangana. Morija, LesothoGoogle Scholar
  34. Keeley J, Scoones I (1999) Understanding environmental policy processes: a review. IDS Working Paper 89Google Scholar
  35. Kothari A (2004) Displacement fears. Frontline 21(26) http://www.flonnet.com/fl2126/stories/20041231000108500.htm. Accessed Jan 2009
  36. Kramer R et al (eds) (1997) The last stand: protected areas and the defence of tropical biodiversity. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  37. Lan D (1985) Guns and rain: guerrillas and spirit mediums in Zimbabwe. James Currey, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. Leach M, Mearns R (1996) Environmental change and policy: challenging received wisdom in Africa. In: Leach M, Mearns R (eds) The lie of the land: challenging received wisdom on the African environment. James Currey, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  39. Maloka T (1996) Populism and the politics of chieftaincy in the new South Africa. J Contemp Afr Stud 14(2):173–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mamdani M (1996) Citizen and subject: contemporary Africa and legacy of late colonialism. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  41. McIvor C (1994) Management of wildlife, tourism and local communities in Zimbabwe. UNRISD, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  42. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Living beyond our means: natural assets and human well-being. http://www.mea.org. Accessed Dec 2007
  43. Mombeshora S (2002) The Mahenye manage wildlife for revenue and economic infrastructure. In: Plastrik P (ed) Sustainable solutions: building assets for empowerment and sustainable development. Ford Foundation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  44. Mombeshora S (2005) Collaborative partnerships in transboundary wildlife management: a review of southern African experiences. IUCN-ROSA, HarareGoogle Scholar
  45. Mombeshora S (2006) Assessment of livelihoods in Chitsa settlement in Gonarezhou National Park. Bio-Hub, HarareGoogle Scholar
  46. Moore D (1998) Clear waters and muddied histories: environmental history and the politics of community in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands. J South Afr Stud 24(2):377–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Murombedzi J (2003) Pre-colonial and colonial conservation practices in Southern Africa and their legacy today. In: Whande W et al (eds) Local communities, equity and conservation in Southern Africa. PLAAS; ART & TILCEPA, Cape TownGoogle Scholar
  48. Murphree M (2001) Community, council and client: a case study in environmental development from Mahenye, Zimbabwe. In: Hulme D, Murphree M (eds) African wildlife and livelihoods. James Currey, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  49. Neumann RP (1998) Imposing wilderness: struggles over livelihood and nature preservation in Africa. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  50. Oilwatch, World Rainforest Movement (2004) Protected areas: protected against whom?. WRM, Moreton-in-Marsh, UKGoogle Scholar
  51. Pearce D (2005) Paradoxes in biodiversity conservation. World econ 6(3):57–69Google Scholar
  52. Peters P (2002) Grounding governance: power and meaning in natural resource management. In: Benjaminsen TA et al (eds) Contested resources: challenges to the governance of resources in Southern Africa. PLAAS, Cape TownGoogle Scholar
  53. Pimbert MP, Pretty JN (1995) Parks, people and professionals. UNRISD, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  54. Rangarajan M, Shahabuddin G (2006) Displacement and relocation from protected areas: towards a biological and historical synthesis. Conserv Soc 4(3):359–378Google Scholar
  55. Ranger T (1989) Whose heritage? The case of the Matobo National Park. J South Afr Stud 15(2):217–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ranger T (1999) Voices from the rocks: nature, culture and history in the Matopos Hills of Zimbabwe. James Currey, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  57. Rycroft A (2002) Environmental conflict resolution. In: IUCN (ed) Conflict management in transboundary natural resource management in Southern Africa. IUCN-ROSA, HarareGoogle Scholar
  58. SAFIRE (2004) Land use and tenure on contested land: Chitsa community in Gonarezhou National Park, SE Zimbabwe. IUCN, HarareGoogle Scholar
  59. Scherl LM et al (2004) Can protected areas contribute to poverty alleviation? Opportunities and limitations. IUCN, Gland Switzerland & Cambridge, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schmidt-Soltau K (2005) Is forced displacement acceptable in conservation projects? ID21 Insights. http://www.Id21.org/insights. Accessed Jan 2009
  61. Schmidt-Soltau K, Brockington D (2007) Protected areas and resettlement: what scope for voluntary relocation? World Dev 35(12):2182–2202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Steenkamp C, Uhr J (2000) The Makuleke land claim: Power relations and community based natural resources management. Evaluating Eden Series Discussion Paper No. 18. IIED, LondonGoogle Scholar
  63. Taylor RD (1990) Zimbabwe. In: Allin CW (ed) International handbook of National Parks and Nature Reserves. Greenwood, CTGoogle Scholar
  64. Taylor JJ (2007) The San court case. Anthropol Today 23(5):3–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Terborgh J (1999) A requiem for nature. Island Press, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  66. UNDP (2003) Human Development Report 2003: millennium development goals: a compact among nations to end human poverty. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  67. Van der Linde H et al (2001) Beyond boundaries: Transboundary natural resource management in sub-Saharan Africa. Biodiversity Support Programme, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  68. Van Donge JK (2001) One people, one Chief: African chieftainship in the modern world. A case of southern Malawi. In: Andersson J, Breusers M (eds) Kinship structures and enterprising actors: Anthropological essays on development. Ponsen & Looijien, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  69. Vicente G et al (2003) Limpopo National Park Business Plan 2004–2006. Ministerio do Turisimo, MaputoGoogle Scholar
  70. West P et al (2006) Parks and peoples: the social impact of protected areas. Annu Rev Anthropol 35:251–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wolmer W (2003) Transboundary conservation: the politics of ecological integrity in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Sustainable livelihoods in Southern Africa Research Paper 4. Institute of Development Studies, BrightonGoogle Scholar
  72. Wolmer W et al (2004) Wildlife management and land reform in southeastern Zimbabwe: a compatible pairing or a contradiction in terms? Geoforum 35(1):87–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of ZimbabweHarareZimbabwe
  2. 2.CIRADHarareZimbabwe

Personalised recommendations