The nexus between sustainable livelihoods and ecological management of the World Heritage Sites: lessons from iSimangaliso World Heritage Park, South Africa

  • AT Nzama University of Zululand
Keywords: Sustainable livelihood, ecological management, world heritage sites, iSimangaliso world Heritage Park, South Africa


This paper explores the suitability of the ecological management approach to the management of the world heritage sites with an aim of linking sustainable livelihoods of local people and the protection of the resource. There are eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa; two of these, UKhahlamba Drakensberg and iSimangaliso Wetland Park are located in KwaZulu-Natal. The communities that live within and around these World Heritage Sites depend on the sites for their livelihoods through various tourism related activities. There is therefore a need for an approach that integrates biodiversity conservation with local and regional development which ensures sustainable livelihoods for local communities that depend on the resource for their survival. The objectives of the study were four-fold: (a) To explore the possibility of introducing and implementing ecological management at the world heritage sites, (b) To establish the local communities’ understanding of the impacts of human-use on ecosystems and biological resources, (c) To assess the extent to which local communities are involved in biodiversity conservation programmes and (d) To find out if the programmes currently in place are directed at integrating social, economic and environmental issues of the study area. The findings of this study indicate that people living inside and on the buffer of iSimangaliso Wetland Park are aware of the activities that may lead to the degradation of the ecosystems. They are also willing to learn more about the ways in which the resource can be optimally used for their economic survival but at the same time protected from overuse. The findings of the study further indicate that with the common understanding between the site authorities and local communities it is possible that ecological management can be introduced and implemented within the World Heritage Sites. Keywords: Sustainable livelihood; ecological management; world heritage sites; iSimangaliso world Heritage Park; South Africa

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eISSN: 2077-2815