n South African Law Journal - Traversing South Africa's conservation and land reform objectives - lessons from the Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve

Volume 131, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



South African policy-makers have in the past decade introduced a range of innovative laws and policies with a view to promoting the country's conservation and land reform objectives. While providing a first step in the right direction, these initiatives are beset by several problems that undermine their future utility and legitimacy. This article seeks to reflect critically on the practical manifestation of these problems in the Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve ('DCNR') situated on the Eastern Coast of South Africa. This reserve provides a perfect microcosm for doing so as it contains some of South Africa's most pristine coastal landscapes and estuaries; is situated on the interface between the terrestrial and marine environments; has a novel governance regime including communal land tenure schemes and co-management arrangements; the resources situated within it are subject to significant access and use pressures given the endemic poverty in the adjacent area; and it is currently economically unviable and requires the introduction of novel financing schemes to ensure its sustainability. The article reflects critically on the successes and challenges relating to the theme in the context of the DCNR and, finally, draws lessons from these successes and challenges, which could potentially inform the resolution of both DCNR's challenges and those facing other communities and authorities seeking to fashion more nuanced, effective, equitable and legitimate solutions for traversing the apparent land reform and conservation divide.

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