Globally, there is a trend towards decentralization of management rights to communities and the public, with community involvement in protected areas being seen as a way to reduce costs and conflict and increase the legitimacy of protected areas. Co-management is potentially an innovative model for addressing issues of socio-economic redress and upliftment, land reform and past injustices, and conservation. However, in many cases the ‘heyday’ of co-management seems to have passed and there is decreasing interest in how to support meaningful processes. In South Africa, protected areas are required to remain under conservation, so that land-reform beneficiaries – who have successfully won claim to their land (from which they were removed under apartheid and colonialism) – are reinstated land-ownership rights and afforded the opportunity to manage their land. Nonetheless, without adequate support to realise the multiple benefits, this is likely to undermine the potential conservation and livelihood outcomes and even contribute to greater antagonism towards protected areas. In this webinar we explore multiple issues that have arisen from our experiences of supporting emerging co-management and governance arrangement between the state and landowners of the Legalameetse Nature Reserve. Through a systems lens and ongoing social learning approach we outline key risks to the co-management framework as a way to marry conservation and reform. In addition to challenges of capacity and shifting power dynamics, lack of support and resources, is the concealed but significant role of political economy of high value protected areas and the dynamics that this driver introduces. We recognize that this is an issue facing many co-management initiatives and welcome discussions and experiences from others in supporting communities to address these.

Webinar Resources

Co-Management of Protected Areas


The focus of this policy and practice brief is on co-management of protected areas using the experience gained in Legalameetse.

Protected Areas in the Olifants Catchment

– Karen Kotschy with Brandon Anthony, Samantha Gerber & Kgomotso Thomas

This technical report provides an overview of the protected areas in the Olifants catchment.

Systemic, Social Learning Support for the Co-Management of the Legalameetse Nature Reserve 

– Sharon Pollard, Charles Chikunda, Thabang Mohale & Lilian Goredema

Co-management is potentially an innovative and exciting model for addressing issues of socio-economic redress and upliftment, land reform and past injustices, and conservation. Here is an overview of a project launched in Legalameetse Nature Reserve, Limpopo Province.

Three Natural Resource-Based Beneficiation Models to Demonstrate Opportunities to Diversify & Optimise Benefits from Legalameetse Nature Reserve


Natural resources can provide the landowner with non-monetary and financial opportunities. This document summarises 3 beneficiation models aimed to address livelihood needs and re-connect communities to their environment.

Conservation-Based Entrepreneurship Enhancing Resilience of Ecosystems, People & Biodiversity [Olifants Catchment]


This project summary explains the exploration of conservation-based entrepreneurship in the Legalameetse Nature Reserve with claimant communities.

Community participation and engaging with government

– Lilian Goredema, Charles Chikunda, Thabang Mohale

These guidelines are for communities that have claimed land in protected areas within South Africa, and are in the process of negotiating or have already negotiated partnerships with the government management agencies for managing protected areas.

A Guideline to Legislation Influencing Co-Management

– Lilian Goredema

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide an overview of the key laws and policies that influence co-management in South Africa, for communities who have claimed land in protected areas.

Co-Management: Reconciling Land Restitution, Biodiversity Conservation & Poverty Alleviation in Olifants Catchment

– Karen Kotschy with Sarah Findlay & Chris Williams

In this case report, we look at how land restitution, poverty and biodiversity conservation might be reconciled through co-management agreements.

A Guideline for Identifying and Planning Resource-Based Beneficiation Initiatives


This Z-fold brochure summarises a process for identifying and planning resource-based benefaction initiatives.

Realising the Benefits from Nature: An introduction to business planning


This Z-fold brochure summarises how to develop a business plan for nature-based business.