UBC Theses and Dissertations
Evaluating ecological integrity and social equity in national parks : case studies from Canada and South Africa Timko, Joleen Allison
There are concerns that many national parks worldwide are ineffective at conserving biological diversity and ecosystem processes, are socially unjust in their relations with Indigenous communities, or both. This dissertation asks: can national parks protect ecological integrity and concurrently address social equity issues? It presents empirical results of a systematic evaluation of six case study national parks in Canada and South Africa. Purposive sampling was used to select the six case study national parks. Data sources included State of the Park Reports; park ecological monitoring data; archival data; and semi-structured interviews with park biologists, managers, and Indigenous members of park co-management boards. Status and trend assessments and effectiveness evaluations of park ecological monitoring data were used to evaluate how effectively the parks addressed three ecological integrity criteria. Results show that all six parks effectively addressed the priority indicators for which they had monitoring data. However, the effectiveness ratings of each park decreased when all indicators, including those identified as priorities but lacking monitoring data, were analysed. This indicates that the parks had generally identified more priority indicators than they were actually able to address (for reasons including lack of budget or trained staff, managerial challenges). Thematic coding of semi-structured interview and archival data, and the assignation of numerical ratings to these data, were used to evaluate how effectively the parks addressed three equity criteria. Results show that all but one of the case study parks were equitable, parks with more comprehensive co-management and support from neighbouring Indigenous groups were more equitable than parks with lower levels of co-management, the parks with settled land claims were not necessarily more equitable overall, and a few parks were found to be co-managed in name only. The overall results of this evaluation demonstrate that parks effective at protecting ecological integrity can also successfully address social equity, but that further efforts to integrate these two realms are both possible and necessary. A logical starting point would be to build upon those existing integrative processes already institutionalised in many parks and protected areas: the co-management and integrated conservation and development efforts.
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