Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Contractual national parks : meeting conservation and development objectives in South Africa and Australia

Kirsten Reid, Hannah (2002) Contractual national parks : meeting conservation and development objectives in South Africa and Australia. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94605) (KAR id:94605)


Contractual national parks (CNPs) are one of many community-based conservation models. They are usually established on land owned by a group of private individuals, but managed by the national conservation authority. Management is according to the terms of a joint management agreement drawn up by a joint management board consisting of representatives from the landowners and the conservation authority or other officials. CNPs are popular in Australia and South Africa, where they are seen as a model through which conservation and development objectives can be met, particularly where landowners are previously disadvantaged communities. This study looks at six South African and two Australian CNPs to assess whether they are successful in terms of meeting conservation objectives, providing sustainable income for both landowners and the conservation authority, and providing social sustainability, assessed in terms of strength of tenure, intangible benefit accrual, resource use rights and equity in benefit distribution. Management criteria, stakeholder institutional capacity and the policy environment in which the CNP operates were also assessed. Lessons are learnt from Australia’s much longer experience with joint management, and comparisons are also drawn with one South African national park without joint management. Few CNPs met conservation objectives and demonstrated economic and social sustainability, but this was usually a problem of implementation rather than concept. Moreover, sustainability at the ecological, economic and social levels was not necessarily a prerequisite for success. Some landowners valued intangible benefits at least as much as quantitative benefits, and CNPs running at an economic loss were subsidised by government and other high-earning national parks. CNPs contribute much towards meeting conservation and development objectives, and successful joint management should rather be defined as a process which facilitates an equitable power balance between the landowners and conservation authority, through which the social and economic objectives of the landowners, and the ecological and economic objectives of the conservation authority are met.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94605
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2023 13:48 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2023 15:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.