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Comanagement at the Fringes: Examining Stakeholder Perspectives at Macassar Dunes, Cape Town, South Africa—at the Intersection of High Biodiversity, Urban Poverty, and Inequality

M. Graham, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University
H. Ernstson, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04887-170334

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Abstract

Theoretically, co-management provides a fruitful way to engage local residents in efforts to conserve and manage particular spaces of ecological value. However, natural resource management, and biodiversity conservation in particular, are faced with novel sets of complexities in the rapidly urbanizing areas of Cape Town, South Africa, and in the nexus between an apartheid past, informal settlements, remnant biodiversity patches, and urban poverty. Departing from such a dynamic social and ecological context, this article first provides an historical account of the decade-long comanagement process at Macassar Dunes, and then considers, through stakeholder perceptions, what are the successes and failures of the contested process. We find that comanagement at Macassar Dunes faces serious legitimacy, trust, and commitment issues, but also that stakeholders find common ground on education and awareness-raising activities. In conclusion we argue that the knowledge generated from case studies like this is useful in challenging and rethinking natural resource management theory generally, but specifically it is useful for the growing cities of the Global South. More case studies and a deeper engagement are needed with geographical theories on the “urban fringe” as “possibility space”, to help build a firm empirical base for theorizing comanagement “at the fringes”, i.e., at the intersection of poverty, socioeconomic inequality, and high biodiversity and ecological values.

Key words

Cape Town, South Africa; comanagement; informal settlement; Macassar Dunes; remnant biodiversity; stakeholder perspectives; urban comanagement; urban ecology; urban poverty
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087