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Historically, conservation of biodiversity and natural resource management has been mutually exclusive to rural development. More often than not, the perception of people versus nature dominated the conservation and development arenas.
In the 1990’s, development agencies began to employ a more participatory approach to development projects. This resulted from past failures of top-down approaches, a greater concern for projects to be cost effective and sustainable and an ideological belief in empowerment. At the end of the 20th century, “sustainable development” became the new catch phrase at global environmental forums, promoting the view of nature as an economic resource needing to be managed so as to yield sustainable economic benefits.
Managers also realised that conservation is better approached when local communities who were thought to degrade the natural resource base, are fed more positively into the equation and their needs are also met. This led to a new, more participatory paradigm to biodiversity conservation which aims to protect biodiversity by promoting the development and involvement of local people.
The KAZA TFCA covers a huge expanse of area across the five partner countries, contained within which is a multitude of land uses, including agriculture, protected areas and game and wildlife management areas. The TFCA initiative does not require people to be displaced or relocated outside the borders of the TFCA but rather seeks to apply a regional, landscape approach to biodiversity conservation.
Development in the communities and villages contained within the KAZA TFCA is not contradictory to the objectives of the KAZA TFCA but rather, the TFCA provides a vehicle through which development can complement biodiversity conservation, thereby ensuring environmental sustainability.