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Prof Bram Buscher presents a public lecture on Peace Parks and Politics of Conservation in Southern Africa

Prof Bram Buscher presented a Public lecture focusing on 'Peace Parks and the Politics of Conversation in Southern Africa', at the University of Venda (UNIVEN) Senate Chambers on Tuesday, 05 February 2013.

“International peace parks have become popular ways of protecting biodiversity while promoting international cooperation and regional development in southern Africa and beyond,” said Prof Busher. Drawing on extensive research with the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Project between Lesotho and South Africa as well as other transfrontier conservation areas, Prof Bram Büscher explained the successful promotion of peace parks as a “win-win” solution and their marketing as 'the global solution' which actually makes them ill-fitted to deal with the contradictions of conserving nature in the 21st century. As currently put into practice – namely as instruments to further turn nature into markets – peace parks will not only live up to their enormous expectations, but actually worsen contradictions on the ground and in the long term make just and sustainable human-nature relations even more difficult to achieve. Büscher argues that to bridge the increasingly contradictory realities in practice with the jubilant rhetoric of 'peace parks', a specific 'politics of neoliberal conservation' is at work in transfrontier conservation. By outlining the elements of this politics, he opens up space to think about different ways to conceptualise peace parks and their potential contribution to just and sustainable human-nature relations.

The Vice Chancellor and Principal Prof Peter Mbati welcomed the guests and introduced the guest speaker. In his welcoming remarks, he shared with the audience how he met Prof Buscher during his recent visit to the Institute of Social Studies. He expressed confidence in Prof Buscher's visit as it marks the beginning of an exciting collaboration between the Institute for Social Studies and the University of Venda. Amongst the guests were Mr Albert Machaba, Mr Stephen Midizi and Ms Tinyiko Chauke who are all from Kruger National Park.

Staff and students including the guests from Kruger National Park engaged constructively with Prof Buscher during questions and comments time.

The Director of International Relations Directorate, Mr Cornelius Hagenmeier proposed a vote thanks in which he described the topic of the public lecture as having generated interest from different fields of study. He appreciated the contributions from visitors from Kruger National Park and suggested that it should be the beginning of the relationship between UNIVEN and Kruger National Park.