Mgbakoigba: Journal of African Studies

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Conservation narratives and contested protected areas in Zambia: a political ecological analysis

Orleans Mfune


This paper uses a political ecological perspective to examine the link between environmental conservation narratives and resource conflicts and degradation in Zambia's protected forest environments. It draws on the case of Munyeta Forest Reserve in Central Zambia to show how conservation narratives have been operated and translated into action to gain access to rural people's environments for the purpose of advancing conservationists agendas. Data on which the paper was based was collected through a variety of methods which include interviews, focus group discussions and archival documents. Further, discourse analysis was used to interrogate the narratives circulating around the reserve. From the results of the study, the paper argues that some of the conservation problems that characterise protected forest areas lie mainly in the application of a dysfunctional and locally unsuitable conservation approach with roots in conservation narratives that have been advanced by powerful actors.

Keywords: Political Ecology, Conservation Narratives, Discourse Analysis, Protected Forests, Resource Conflicts

AJOL African Journals Online