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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Improved decision-making processes for the transfrontier conservation areas of southern Africa Malan, Anna Susanna


The focus of this research is environmental governance in Africa, explored through the lens of trans-border conservation initiatives. I used the embedded case study approach to dissect the political, socio-economic and ecosystem management aspects of decision making in the establishment and management of protected areas across national boundaries, focusing on two transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) in southern Africa, the Greater Limpopo and the Greater Mapungubwe transfrontier conservation areas. This is a qualitative study using mixed methods to collect data, including 93 semi-structured interviews with current and potential decision makers from every possible level, 16 questionnaires, ten mental model workshops, several meetings with local municipalities and other decision-making platforms, and an in-depth scrutiny of relevant policies and treaty documents. Interviewees provided inputs into a value system framework based on a compilation of attributes from each of the ecosystem, socio-economic and governance literature, to produce an average score for each of the two case study areas. The results indicated highly disjunctive approaches among countries forming part of the TFCAs, leading to many undesirable feedback loops. The decision-making processes of each country component of the two TFCAs were then analyzed separately, using a “governance” capability maturity model to determine the effectiveness of current management practices. A “collaboration” maturity model was used to identify gaps in the information sharing, decision making and patterns of interaction among the different stakeholders of each of the two TFCAs, indicating institutional and decision-making flaws in the current system. Some recommendations are provided to improve these in order to overcome current failures in the three dimensions of a TFCA.

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