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Doctoral thesis, 2016

Parks with people?

Givá, Nícia


Reconciling conservation and people’s livelihoods has faced multiple dilemmas, particularly prominent in human-inhabited protected areas with high levels of poverty and vulnerability to climate adversities. This thesis examines the relationship between wildlife conservation and people’s livelihoods in a human-inhabited protected area and analyses the challenges and opportunities for reconciling the two. Drawing from the empirical case of Limpopo National Park (LNP), conceptualised from the outset with the ‘Parks with People’ paradigm, I argue in this thesis that reconciling conservation and livelihoods objectives requires co-management alternatives that are flexible, context-sensitive, and adaptive. Therefore systemic action research was adopted as the methodological approach for collaborative exploration of co-management opportunities that could resonate with the local complexity and dynamics. Findings show that agricultural livelihoods and food security of the LNP residents are strongly contingent on the climatic conditions. People’s ability to cope with and overcome drought-related food insecurity has been negatively affected by wildlife incursion, since strategies to simultaneously cope with both are inconsistent. The park lacked an adequate management strategy for tackling both wildlife conservation and people’s livelihoods. This study also demonstrates the potential of the systemic action research approach in engaging the multiple actors in a social learning process, which improved actors’ knowledge and understanding of their conflictual perspectives and needs. Local communities enhanced their agency towards improving their responsibility and accountability in the management of LNP, particularly regarding the 20% benefit sharing. Likewise, park staff became aware of the improvement necessary in their praxis and gained sensitivity for collaborative approaches. However, the LNP governance structure is dominated by the neoliberal and donor-driven conservation agenda which disregards the local context of poverty and vulnerability to climate adversities. This hindered the possibilities to further develop the emergent collaborative signs into long-term co-management practice. I conclude by emphasising the need for communicative spaces across all levels of governance to address simultaneously the complexity of the conservation-livelihood nexus and challenge the normalised and hegemonic neoliberal prescriptions.


Conservation; Livelihoods; Inhabited protected areas; Action Research; Limpopo National Park; Mozambique; Elephant crop raiding

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2016, number: 2016:118
ISBN: 978-91-576-8739-5, eISBN: 978-91-576-8740-1
Publisher: Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Givá, Nícia (Giva, Nicia)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

URI (permanent link to this page)