Original Research

Opportunities and constraints for community-based conservation: The case of the KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld grassland, South Africa

Sizwe S. Nkambule, Happy Z. Buthelezi, Suveshnee Munien
Bothalia | Vol 46, No 2 | a2120 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v46i2.2120 | © 2016 Sizwe S. Nkambule, Happy Z. Buthelezi, Suveshnee Munien | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 June 2016 | Published: 02 December 2016

About the author(s)

Sizwe S. Nkambule, Discipline of Geography and Environmental Sciences, School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Happy Z. Buthelezi, Discipline of Geography and Environmental Sciences, School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Suveshnee Munien, Discipline of Geography and Environmental Sciences, School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: South Africa is characterised by high levels of biodiversity and species endemism alongside critical levels of socio-economic vulnerability, demonstrating potential for conservation practices that provide both environmental and social benefits. It is argued that communitybased conservation (CBC) practices can be strategically positioned to achieve environmental conservation objectives as well as promote local-level socio-economic development. The KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld (KZNSS) vegetation type is classified as endemic (to KZN, South Africa), and is at present listed as endangered. Additionally, one of the KZNSS grassland patches occurs adjacent to the low-income peri-urban community of iNanda. The study examined local community uses and perceptions of the vegetation type.
Objectives: To examine the uses, perceptions and attitudes displayed by the iNanda community towards the KZNSS grassland patch. Furthermore, it is hoped that the results of this study can be utilised to inform the potential use of CBC strategies within socio-economic contexts such as iNanda.
Method: A mixed methodological approach was adopted, focusing on iNanda as the case study. One hundred households were purposively interviewed. Descriptive and chi-square statistical tests were carried out to examine main data trends.
Results: Respondents displayed alarming levels of unemployment (61%) and 34% relied on state grants as a source of household income. Households used the grassland for subsistence (51%), grazing (14%), recreational (13%) and cultural purposes (12%). Respondents displayed limited awareness of conservation and the ecological importance of the grassland. However, respondents recognised the need to conserve the grassland based on their perception of changes to the adjacent patch.
Conclusion: Potential grassland conservation plans should consider the current use displayed by respondents. Participatory approaches to conservation such as CBC initiatives could provide much-needed socio-economic and conservation benefits.

Keywords

community-based conservation; socio-ecological systems; KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld ecosystem; perceptions; participation

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Bothalia  vol: 46  issue: 2  year: 2016  
doi: 10.4102/abc.v46i2.2199