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Collaborative Landscape Governance and the Conservation-Development Nexus: An Investigation of the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative

Authors: Rachel Fleener*, University of Otago, Tony Binns , University of Otago , Etienne Nel , University of Otago , David Bek , Coventry University
Topics: Landscape, Africa, Rural Geography
Keywords: Collaborative Governance, Landscape, Conservation, Inequality, South Africa
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual Track 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Landscape approaches to integrated land management represent the most recent attempt to reconcile broad-scale conservation and development issues. While this approach is becoming more prominent in the scientific literature and international conservation circles, it is still under-theorized and limited case studies have been conducted to investigate how this approach is used in practice. This paper draws from field-based research in South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region (CFR), an area that is ecologically significant and a region that suffers from severe development issues like extreme poverty, inequality and unemployment. This paper investigates the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI), a local organization that has adopted a landscape approach to facilitate collaboration between 30 conservation and development-minded organizations to foster biodiversity through sustainable environmental, economic and socio-cultural development. Most of the land in the Agulhas Plains is privately owned and therefore requires collaboration between a variety of stakeholders to address environmental issues such as fires and invasive alien plants. This paper unpacks the landscape approach by highlighting the complications of partnerships between sectors in a multi-functional landscape and interrogates the ability to create integrated and equitable solutions. The findings of the research contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the benefits and limitations of collaboration within the conservation-development nexus and provides valuable insights into how landscape approaches to conservation manifest themselves in a context of unequal landownership and natural resource access.

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