The Valuation of Biodiversity Conservation by the South African Khomani San “Bushmen” Community
The restitution of parkland to the Khomani San “bushmen” and Mier “agricultural” communities in May 2002 marked a significant shift in conservation in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and environs in South Africa. Biodiversity conservation will benefit from this land restitution only if the Khomani San, who interact with nature more than do other groups, are good environmental stewards. To assess their attitude toward biodiversity conservation, this study used the contingent valuation method to investigate the values the communities assign to biodiversity conservation under three land tenure arrangements in the Kgalagadi area. For each community and land tenure arrangement, there are winners and losers, but the winners benefit by more than the cost that losers suffer. The net worth for biodiversity conservation under the various land tenure regimes ranged from R928 to R3,456 to R4,160 for municipal land, parkland, and communal land respectively for the Khomani San, compared to R25,600 to R57,600 to R64,000 for municipal land, parkland, and communal land respectively for the Mier. Both communities have the highest preference for the implementation of the biodiversity conservation programme on communal land. There are no significant differences in the WTP between the two communities when adjusted for annual median household income; hence, the Khomani San can be trusted to become good environmental stewards. However, in order for all members of the local communities to support biodiversity conservation unconditionally, mechanisms for fair distribution of the associated costs and benefits should be put in place.
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