The Spaces of Conservation and Development around Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Geographically or sociologically defined resource management units, such as buffer zones or community resource management territories, seek to harmonize local land–use practices with protected–area management objectives. The geographically restricted nature of these models often results in simplistic representations of society–nature relations over time and space. Conservation areas are misrepresented as ecologically and socially homogeneous, as well as politically neutral. This study examines the limits of a spatially defined conservation and development project designed around the physical geographical unit of the watershed at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya. It argues that politically motivated violence that has plagued the area since the early 1990s has severely undermined the suitability of such narrowly defined conservation territories. Specifically, the case study points to the permeability of the Lake Nakuru watershed to national and regional political forces that ultimately constrain participation in conservation activities. The spaces of conservation and development must be enlarged to include these extralocal arenas and processes if environmental problems are to be effectively addressed.