Heads or tails? Stakeholder analysis as a tool for conservation area management
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Conservation areas are crucial for the maintenance of local communities' life-support systems. Such areas also, however, constitute potential carbon sinks in regions undergoing significant and complex land-cover and land-use changes. In Africa, most conservation areas are subject to conflicting land-uses due to complex land tenure relationships, misdirected and ineffective policies and legislation, and human encroachment. Stakeholder analysis in such areas, taking the form of an environmental conflict management model in which stakeholders engage each other in a negotiation process, building mutual trust around areas of common interest and eventually forging mutually beneficial partnerships, can be used to better understand land-use conflicts. In a case study of a forest reserve in Mozambique, it was concluded that stakeholders define themselves with reference to their geographical location, political mandates and socio-cultural and economic interests with respect to the conservation area. The level of mistrust among stakeholders before the start of the project is directly proportional to the amount of time required to build and nurse mutual trust. Such dynamics are shown to be critical in effective management and use of conservation areas.