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Friday 6 May, 4.30 pm

Living well despite it all; exploring the impacts of protected areas on edge-dwellers’ attempts towards health

Amber Abrams, University of Kent

This event is free, but places must be booked. To book tickets please go to: http://amberabrams.eventbrite.co.uk

Protected areas often appear as quaint institutions, useful for public education, entertainment, and central to environmental conservation efforts. For some, nature reserves are holiday adventures that fulfill aspirations of being “in the wild”. Simultaneously, protected areas are often created through legislation that delineates boundaries, and limits access, and resource use. Fortress conservation relies on the notion that isolation from human impact will best achieve habitat and biodiversity protection; the removal of people from a space will allow past “natural” environments to re-emerge. This positions nature as separate from people, reifying a nature/culture divide. Similarly many contemporary conservation (protectionism) projects continue to pit indigenous peoples’ land use against an imagined pristine space (Anderson and Berglund 2003).

 When humans are not afforded a place in protected spaces, when people are living on the borders of protected areas, “edge-dwellers” emerge. The “protected” status assignment imposes restrictions (“reregulation”) on customary and contemporary land use practices with concomitant impacts on local activities and livelihoods (Castree 2007; Hulme and Murphree 2001; West et al. 2006;). Resulting changes in land use and access can impact the availability, distribution, and quality of strategically important resources, and thus influence a wide range of ecological, epidemiological, and economic processes that directly and indirectly impinge on an individual’s wellness. The needs and wants of edge-dwellers are marginalized against goals of conservation protectionism (Andersson et al 2013; George 1998 in Anderson and Berglund 2003: 6). My research focuses specifically on health related conditions of one edge-dwelling village in Limpopo, South Africa and edge-dwellers’ responses to changes that impact wellbeing.