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Community commercial conservancies as a valuable land use option in Southern Africa

Czudek R., Le Bel S., Cornélis D.. 2016. In : Plinio Sist (ed.), Stéphanie Carrière (ed.), Pia Parolin (ed.), Pierre-Michel Forget (ed.). Tropical ecology and society reconciliating conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Program and abstracts. Storrs : ATBC, p. 310. Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC 2016), 2016-06-19/2016-06-23, Montpellier (France).

Southern African models of wildlife management are based on the devolution of wildlife management rights and benefits to private owners and communities. The guiding assumption behind these models is that wildlife management becomes more effective once local users are able to manage it and benefit from it. In recent decades, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe have decentralized state decision-making to local stakeholders, thus enabling them to benefit from numerous opportunities offered by the wildlife tourism industry, especially trophy hunting (a high-value-added activity). This approach has been particularly successful on commercial farmlands, where substantial areas have been converted to game ranches that generate profits mainly through trophy hunting but also through live animal sales, ecotourism and game meat production, among others. Although making good profits while conserving wildlife and providing social and economic benefits in rural areas, commercial wildlife ranches have been often perceived as ¿While only¿ elite businesses, resulting in some cases in serious political and land tenure tensions. The decentralization approach has been less straightforward on communal lands because communal property regimes (in which defined groups may collectively exploit common resources within a defined jurisdiction) need to be established. Community-based wildlife management approaches were initiated successfully in Zimbabwe in the early 1990s under the CAMPFIRE programme, although these were later hampered by political developments. Other countries have also adopted community-based wildlife management approaches. In Namibia, for example, communal area conservancies are proving to be highly successful in a context of low human population density. There is a need however, to develop community commercial conservancy as a wildlife-based land use option in the more general context of Southern African populated communal lands. In this communication, we promote the idea of developing models of multi-purpose wildlife use and trade as a development tool offering alternative livelihood options for rural communities living in marginal areas rich in wildlife. Tacking this challenge will require a supporting the revision of decentralization processes, adapting legal frameworks, and developing innovative business models involving effective public-private partnerships. (Texte intégral)

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