My cattle and your park: codesigning a role-playing game with rural communities to promote multistakeholder dialogue at the edge of protected areas
Arthur Perrotton, Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), UR AGIRs; Center for Applied Social Sciences (CASS), University of Harare, Zimbabwe
Michel de Garine-Wichatitsky, Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), UR AGIRs; Department of Biological Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe; Current address: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand
Hugo Valls-Fox, Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, UMR 5175, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université de Montpellier, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier, Ecole Pratiques des Hautes Etudes (EPHE)
Christophe Le Page, CIRAD GREEN
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Protected areas are often burdened with conflicts between environmental managers and neighboring rural communities. Unsuccessful top-down approaches for conservation may be replaced by alternative forms of systemic management involving local actors in the design and implementation of conservation management. Although theoretically sound and appealing, the involvement of local residents in the management of protected areas is often impaired in practice by scale mismatches, conflicting values and interests, power imbalance, and a lack of trust among actors. In this paper, we describe a process initiated in Zimbabwe to create a fair and balanced locally designed arena where local communities and protected area managers may collaborate to produce effective management plans. Adopting the Companion Modeling approach, we conducted a participatory modeling experiment to codesign a role-playing game that simulates the interactions between farming activities, livestock herding practices, and wildlife in a virtual landscape reproducing local social–ecological dynamics. After 18 months of intensive ethnographical fieldwork to gain knowledge and legitimacy, we spent one year codesigning the first version of the game with a group of volunteer villagers. The game, called Kulayijana (teaching each other), was tested and validated by other members of the rural communities and subsequently presented to protected area managers. We show how this approach allowed the negotiation of uncertainties and their inclusion in a model that constitutes a shared representation of farmers’ interactions with the protected area. We emphasize the fact that working with marginalized actors first increased participation, appropriation, and confidence of rural communities to engage in a multistakeholder debate, thus reducing power imbalance among actors. We conclude by discussing the next phase of our work: the necessary involvement of conservation actors in the Kulayijana team, and the implementation of Kulayijana with higher hierarchical levels.
coexistence; multistakeholder; participatory modeling; role-playing game; Zimbabwe
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