Balancing Industrialization and Wildlife Conservation (Page 47. 2018 Africa Tourism Monitor)
Discourse abounds on the prioritization of wildlife conservation and industrialization. The jury is still open on whether wildlife conservation is an economic sector, system of access and allocation of resources, a set of ethics, or land use. Contention arises from lack of consensus on what wildlife means and how to measure economic value wildlife conservation just as one would measure economic value of industrialization. Should it be measured by what it brings through different forms of utilization or the value of the space it occupies? Or, should it be measured by its intrinsic value, what is commonly referred to as heritage? Should value be measured or compared to compatible land uses on spaces set aside for wildlife conservation?
The effect of these varied views is a source of continued conflict between wildlife conservation and developmentalists. For example, Kenya’s annual economic survey, lists wildlife conservation as a system of resource utilization, just like industrialization, agriculture, or mining. Yet tourism, which is highly dependent on wildlife conservation, is listed as an economic sector.The contradiction and battle of the supposedly competing sectors is an everyday lived experience in Kenya as demand for space for “development” intensifies. The hiving off of part of Nairobi National Park by the state, first for the building of the Eastern bypass to revamp the road network and ease traffic congestion in the city, and second, the recent building of the Standard Gauge Railway, are good examples of the complexity of balancing wildlife conservation and industrialization. Yet, it is the state that holds the heritage value of the park, in trust, for the people of Kenya.
There is as much a rationale for wildlife conservation as there is for industrialization. However, it should never come to choices between the two. It should be about co-existence. There is evidence all around us that nature is life. The reality of choosing between nature and development is evident through climate change. In the end, what will count is whether our choices are sustainable enough to support thriving people, a thriving planet, and thriving businesses. That way the two will not be competing but complementing each other.
Article by Judy Kepher Gona, Pg 47 of the 2018 Africa Tourism Monitor