Convivial Conservation – solution to global environmental issues: What you need to know

The environment has faced many challenges and there have been numerous forms of biodiversity conservation ways to counter environmental hiccups. The majority of these forms have collapsed due to conservationists and political leaders standing on different platforms while using different lenses. There is one alternative to all these challenges, and this is Convivial Conservation. 

Convivial conservation offers an integrated approach to understanding and practicing environmental conservation. Based on a holistic ‘Whole Earth’ vision and existing examples from innovative conservation efforts in development around the world, the principle is that human places and nature can and should be integrated within both rural and urban spaces. The idea is to build on this conceptualization and promising examples of existing practice to develop a general conservation model that can be adapted to specific contexts throughout the world.

Professors, Bram Büscher and Robert Fletcher

Both, Büscher and Fletcher argue that the Anthropocene challenge demands something bigger, better, and bolder, and it has to be something truly revolutionary. This approach goes beyond the borders of protected areas and invests faith to incorporate the need of humans and nature within an integrated and landscape terrain. This form offers a non-political manifesto for conservation and it should be embraced with the utmost understanding thinking.

Capitalism and colonialism have messed up the co-existence with nature, especially in the global south, more so in sub-Saharan Africa. National parks or protected areas were created for wildlife protection and conservation not for biological readiness but for commercial purposes herein called, commodification and financialization of nature, yet initially, the indigenous people previously owned these lands from where they were kicked out from or even killed to create national parks and reserves for selfish and colonial interests.

It should not be forgotten that 80% of the world’s biodiversity is found on the lands of the indigenous people because they have generally maintained the lifestyles that put less pressure and stress on the ecosystems than the people living in the high-consumption lifestyles of the industrialized communities.

The colonial wildlife conservation alternatives in the Sub-Saharan Africa emerged during the dusk times of the 19th century, with the creation of different laws that restricted hunting of the Africans, thereby setting up of game reserves for and by the colonial governments.

Different laws were formulated to restrict hunting by ingenious communities, as well as the setting up of game reserves by colonial governments. The key influential figures behind this absurd emergence were aristocratic European hunters who had the desire to preserve African game populations, ostensibly protecting them from the Africans who roamed freely, so that they would shoot the wild animals in what they called, elite sports hunting.

These wildlife conservation measures became more consolidated at the turn of the 20th century, notably due to the 1900 Convention for the Preservation of Animals, Birds, and Fish in Africa. This agreement was between European imperial blocks and their colonial possessions in Africa to improve wildlife preservation measures, and with the establishment of the Society for the Preservation of the Wild Fauna of the Empire in 1903.

This Society was made up of aristocrats, hunter-naturalists, and former government officials, who used the influence of its members to advocate for greater wildlife conservation measures in Africa. The wildlife preservation agenda of the Society was largely geared around restricting hunting praxis for African populations, while elite European hunting was defended and promoted as an imperial privilege compatible with environmental outcomes.

From the 1920s, members of the Society played a key role in setting up Africa’s early national parks, establishing a key conservation praxis that would continue into the late colonial and postcolonial periods. After World War II, colonial wildlife conservation influence reached its zenith and the African populations were displaced as national parks were established across the continent, thereby denying Africans the liberty to associate with nature and the wild.

In 1930 and 1931, the Society delegations were sent to British colonies across the African continent, where they directly lobbied colonial governors to establish national parks and improve wildlife conservation activities. The first national park in Africa was the Parc Albert in the Belgian Congo (now called the Democratic Republic of Congo), established in 1925.

During the 2013 World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), a plenary debate was held on the notion, that “Justice for people must come before justice for the environment.’’ This notion cuts through the beliefs shared by many social scientists, where efforts to protect the environment through conservation threaten community livelihoods and endanger traditional practices

I am privileged to have been taught by professor Bram Büscher on matters related to Convivial Conservation, a new thinking on how to integrate biodiversity and social justice, which was hosted by the Institute of Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), in collaboration with Wageningen University. I stand firm and tall to defend convivial conservation.

Now that I am a member of the global research team, Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), which aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social-ecological systems, the services they generate, and the relationships among ecosystems, human well-being, livelihoods, inequality, and poverty. I can humbly say, I will be sharing my knowledge with you from time to time.


Author: wakojoel

I am a Euphoric African | Convivial Conservation born again | Birdwatcher | Bibliophilic | Egalitarian | Social Media Handler | Smooth Jazz Enthusiast | F1 addict | TeamLH |

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