Exploring stakeholder perceptions of an urban protected area and associated co-management arrangements: Macassar Dunes, Cape Town, South Africa
Abstract: Within our cities the importance of urban green spaces such as forests, parks, wetlands, and protected areas are increasingly recognised for their contribution to human health and wellbeing, and in the provision of ecosystem services. Meanwhile, cities contain much social, cultural, economic, and environmental diversity, and natural resource management strategies for green areas need to account for the diversity of perspectives and conflict spaces that such urban diversity can encapsulate. Here, the empirical focus is on an urban protected area, Macassar Dunes, in Cape Town, bordered by vast informal and township settlement, and subject to a co-management arrangement for the last ten years between representatives of local residents, academic researchers, and conservation and planning authorities. This study examines the range of perceived ‘bridges’ and ‘barriers’ to co-management from the perspectives of stakeholders in the peak co-management body, the Maccasar Dunes Co-Management Association Management Committee (MDCA MC). This analysis finds the arrangements are perceived as both highly valuable and highly contested amongst MDCA MC stakeholders, with a wide array of bridges and barriers identified. In a complementary analysis the range of place meanings attached to Macassar Dunes within the MDCA MC are examined using the ‘sense of place’ concept. The contention of this thesis is that exploring issues of place through recognising places and their meanings as relational, political and contested can contribute to a co-management theory and practice which is more sensitive to the places through which it is enacted, and provide possibilities for understanding conflict in co-management arrangements.
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