Urban National Parks in Emerging Countries and Cities (UNPEC)
UNPECis an interdisciplinary programof both basic and appliedresearch(2012-2015) working about Cape Town,Mumbai, Nairobi, Rioand their national parks.In this context,the
interdependence betweenhumans and
naturemay seem obvious.But in fact parks andcities managementareoften independentactivitieswhichare not withoutsome tensionsorconflicts, given the diversity ofactors andtheir
interests.UNPECaims to understand theimplications and consequencesof these dynamics.
For managers of national parks and local authorities: UNPECandUrbanProtected Areas Network(UPANetwork)providean independent
perspective onthe interaction
betweencities andprotected areas.The comparative dimensionof this workalso providesseveralopportunities to interactdirectly with yourcounterparts in otherurban protected areasand participate inour discussionon thecommonfeaturesofnature managementin- and for-theirurban contexts.
For researchers:UNPECandUrbanProtected Areas Network(UPANetwork)offer fertile groundfortheoretical and empirical workon the multiplerepresentations of naturein the cities, the socialand spatial segmentation, the cultural
dimensions of ecosystem
services, the topic of risk management, the circulationand application of the globalmodelsormulti-scaleinteractions.
UNPEC is funded by Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), France.
National Parks in Emerging Countries and Cities
Janeiro, Mumbai, Nairobi, Cape Town
Project Duration: 4 years (2012-15)
Financing: Agence Nationale de la Recherche
(+ one-off financing from the partners mentioned below).
Members: 20 researchers from several disciplines
in the Social and Environmental Sciences, from three continents.
Main partner institutions:
Laboratory Mosaļques (ex-GECKO)/LAVUE, University of
Paris Ouest-Nanterre (partner n°1)
Institut Franēais d’Afrique du Sud (IFAS),
Institut Franēais de Recherche en Afrique
Institut Libertas (France)
Pontifical Universidade Catholica, Rio de Janeiro
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai
…and others (Sciences Po-Paris, IUCN and the University
of Stellenbosch among others)
… as well as the Managements of the four parks being
studied (Forest Department of India, Kenya Wildlife Service, South African
National Parks, PARNA Tijuca/ICMBio).
To which extent does the management method
of an urban national park reveal the degree, dynamics and forms of emergence of
a country and a city?
the national park issue is still being considered from the perspective of an antagonistic
relation between (nature) conservation and (societal) development. There is extensive
scientific literature on the subject, which advocates mainly a participatory
approach making it possible to integrate local populations into the protection policy
and, de facto, to reconcile equity and efficiency. Revisiting this issue on the
subject of metropolises in countries of the South or emerging countries (Rio de
Janeiro, Cape Town, Bombay and Nairobi), affords an original outlook.
what does “emergence” mean, if not – from a sociocultural viewpoint – the juxtaposition
of increasingly different groups whose nature representation systems diverge? The
emergence process modifies the structure and dynamic of social classes and makes
of the park a place of encounters and conflicts, as in Brazil, India, South Africa
and even in countries like Kenya, which are marked by recurrent crises, and for
which “emergence” still seems to be an objective to be reached more than an
actual development process. In the societies of Europe or North America,
well-off populations adopt dominant representations, perceiving urban parks as
a space of leisure and relaxation or protection of biodiversity. Conversely, the
residents of shanty towns sometimes tend to see protected areas as building
land, while farmers in Nairobi or Bombay view parks as potential resource fields.
Urban spreading raises even more the issue of park location and, conversely, protected
areas tend to grow, which increases “front lines”.
the emergence process brings to light new issues: although they are part of a
local urban dimension, these so-called “national” parks are confronted with a
challenge: managing must take into account the multiple scales. Parks can contribute
to reinforcing the image of a city and reach iconic status (e.g. Cape Town and
Rio de Janeiro), even though they might have been perceived up until then as a
local financial resource above all (e.g. Nairobi), or been completely neglected
by the urban authorities (e.g. Bombay). The environmental issue can be a
rallying objective, a factor of local integration (e.g. Rio) or even national
integration according to the official discourse (e.g. Cape Town), but it can
also function as a tool of spatial and social segmentation (e.g. Bombay). When a
metropolis competes internationally to obtain the status of “World City”, a national
park can be an efficient logo, a symbolic brand image attracting tourists,
capitals and international conferences (e.g. Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro). It
can also be neglected (Bombay). In the first case, it seems that we have emerging
parks attached to emerging cities which are the driving force behind emerging
countries. In the second case, parks remain marked by the old “fortress”
approach to conservation, with very little integration taking place into the
city – the park of Nairobi being in an intermediary position in this regard.
these “national” parks are part of a “local” metropolis, they must face “world”
issues: their management is made difficult by the diversity of actors operating
at all the different levels, bringing often divergent representations, meeting
often contradictory interests, and endowed with unequal powers.