Sustainable tourism development in transfrontier conservation areas : a legal perspective
Mugadza, Amanda Tapiwa
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Transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) originate from the idea of conservation across international boundaries. Within the SADC region, they are defined as areas or components of large ecological regions that straddle the boundaries of two or more countries, encompassing one or more protected areas, as well as multiple resource use areas. While the objectives of TFCAs are manifold, key among these are biodiversity conservation, improvement of livelihoods - poverty alleviation and economic development. Within SADC, tourism is identified as a key driver of these objectives. To explore this further, the study embarks on a case study of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA), the oldest and second largest TFCA in the region, involving South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. From the GLTFCA, it is established that challenges exist with the manner in which tourism development is undertaken. However, it is further established that these challenges do not necessarily stem from the tourism development itself but from the weaknesses in the governance structures of this TFCA. In particular, the exclusion of local communities as key governance actors in the GLTFCA is seen to be detrimental to conservation and perpetuates poverty. Superimposed on these weaknesses, the tourism development therefore fails to adequately promote biodiversity conservation, improvement of livelihoods - poverty alleviation and economic development in the GLTFCA. To resolve these challenges, the study explores the concept of sustainable tourism development from a legal perspective guided by the question: what is the legal framework necessary, at domestic level – in TFCA participating countries to ensure that sustainable tourism development promotes the key SADC TFCA objectives? Through the aims or policy implications of sustainable tourism development, the study determines a legal framework comprising of the relevant TFCA governance actors as well as the governance-based tools that are necessary to promote the TFCA objectives. The domestic legal frameworks of the GLTFCA participating countries are measured against this legal framework to establish whether they promote sustainable toruism development. It is established that the domestic legal frameworks of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, individually and as a whole, neither provide effectively for all relevant TFCA governance actors, especially local communities; nor for the tools that promote biodiversity conservation, the improvement of livelihoods-alleviation of poverty and economic development in the GLTFCA. Thus, the legal framework of the GLTFCA does not provide for sustainable tourism development as it should. For this reason, the study’s principal recommendation is the adoption, by all SADC TFCA participating countries, of a domestic legal framework for sustainable tourism development with specific elements which provides for the key TFCA governance actors as well as the relevant governance-based tools.
- Law