Conservation Geographies in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Politics of National Parks, Community Conservation and Peace Parks

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Sub-Saharan Africa has been the location of intense conservation planning since the colonial era. Under the auspices of wilderness protection, colonial authorities established national parks largely for the purpose of hunting and tourism while forcibly evicting indigenous populations. Concerns about the ethical and economic impacts of protected areas have generated interest in community conservation initiatives that attempt to include local participation in natural resource management. In recent years, the anticipated loss of biodiversity, coupled with the integration of ecological concepts into planning processes, has generated interest in larger-scale initiatives that maximize protected habitat. Central to this shift are transboundary conservation areas, or Peace Parks, that involve protected territory that supersedes national political borders. This study provides a review of national parks, community conservation, and Peace Parks, in order to understand the development politics and governance challenges of global conservation. Although these approaches are not mutually exclusive, the study asserts that they represent major trajectories to conservation planning in Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world. In considering the histories of these models in Sub-Saharan Africa, I argue that conservation planners often prioritize economic and ecological factors over the political circumstances that influence the effectiveness of these approaches. The study concludes by suggesting that an analysis of these three models provides a lens to examine ongoing debates regarding the employ of conservation as an economic development strategy and the challenges to environmental governance in the 21st century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-27
Number of pages14
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science


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