Original Research

Delivering community benefits acts as insurance for the survival of small protected areas such as the Abe Bailey Nature Reserve, South Africa

Susan J. Taylor, Doreen Atkinson
Koedoe | Vol 54, No 1 | a1043 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v54i1.1043 | © 2012 Susan J. Taylor, Doreen Atkinson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 February 2011 | Published: 21 May 2012

About the author(s)

Susan J. Taylor, Centre for Development Support, University of the Free State, South Africa
Doreen Atkinson, Centre for Development Support, University of the Free State, South Africa


The Abe Bailey Nature Reserve (ABNR) in the Gauteng Province of South Africa is largely unknown and offers little to attract visitors. The biological integrity of the ABNR is challenged by the urban poverty in Khutsong, the reserve’s immediate neighbour. Relations between Khutsong and the nature reserve had been hostile for decades as a result of the ‘fortress’ style of conservation protection used for the ABNR. However, this situation provided the Gauteng Directorate of Nature Conservation with an opportunity to experiment with identifying and transferring benefits to the community, as well as establishing an effective buffer zone between the nature reserve and the informal settlements of Khutsong. Following an initial rapid rural appraisal and ongoing liaison through specifically appointed project managers, an outreach programme containing two natural resource-based projects was developed. As a result, better relations were established between the ABNR and its neighbouring community for the first time since the nature reserve was established in 1977. This acted as ‘insurance’ during violent public protests and vandalism in the Khutsong border demarcation dispute (2005–2007), but may not be enough to secure the nature reserve into the future.

Conservation implications: Small protected areas may not be effective in ensuring their biological integrity in the long term, but working cooperatively with existing and future neighbours is an essential strategy to optimise conservation activities in small reserves such as the ABNR.


benefits; buffer zones; municipalities; protected areas; reserves; urban communities


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Crossref Citations

1. Bridging the knowing–doing gap in South Africa and the role of environmental volunteer groups
Cathy M. Dzerefos, Ed T.F. Witkowski
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