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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 92-102

Going Back to the Roots: Ubuntu and Just Conservation in Southern Africa

1 Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Dodoma, Dodoma, Tanzania
2 Institute for Global Sustainable Development, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

Correspondence Address:
Mathew Bukhi Mabele
Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Dodoma, Dodoma
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_33_21

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Given growing human influence on the earth system's functioning, caring for nature has never been this critical. However, whether for economic interests or 'wilderness' preservation, attempts to save nature have been grounded on a Western scientific philosophy of separating it from people's ways of living, especially through 'protected areas'. Under the banner 'convivial conservation', which advocates socio-ecological justice and structural transformations in the global economic system, an alternative idea called 'promoted areas' has been proposed, advocating for conservation which promotes nature for, to, and by humans. Here, we argue that 'promoted areas' are best fitted with decolonial thinking in conservation science and practice. In southern Africa, one available 'decolonial option' is Ubuntu philosophy, which is anchored on the ethical principle of promoting life through mutual caring and sharing between and among humans and nonhumans. Ubuntu disengages from western ways of knowing about human–environment interactions, as it is predicated on promoting the many links between humans and nonhumans. From this, we argue that instituted through Ubuntu, 'promoted areas' re-initiate a harmony between human beings and physical nature, as practices of individualistic, excessive extractions of nonhuman nature are discouraged, and human–nonhuman relationships based on respect, solidarity, and collaboration are celebrated.

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