Towards strengthening collaborative ecosystem management: Lessons from environmental conflict and political change in southern Africa
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Ecosystem conservation in southern Africa (in particular South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia) is characterised by high levels of past and present conflicts. During the apartheid and colonial periods indigenous people lost their rights to use land and natural resources. Protected areas were seldom established in consultation with local communities, and, between 1900 and 1990, millions of citizens were forcibly removed from areas proclaimed as nature reserves, national parks, or game reserves. Conservation conflicts in southern Africa escalated because of: i) the many and complicated issues at stake; ii) the large investment by communities and conservationists in the main causes of the conflict -- land and natural resources; iii) communities and conservationists harming each other, rather than striving towards common goals; iv) negative perceptions on both sides; v) weak and infrequent communication between role players; vi) the hostile relations between them; and vii) the use of violent and coercive tactics on both sides.