Preserving the New Tanzania: Conservation and Land Use Change

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Abstract: Tanzania has a conservation estate unrivalled on the continent. This paper examines the extent of protected areas in the country and some of the reasons for its size. We note that the conservation estate is still growing and that these are not mere paper parks, but protected areas with real consequences for rural populations. The impact on land use change is visible in several ways, in habitat change averted, in the growth and changing configuration of wildlife populations whose impacts reach beyond their borders, and in the hardening of boundaries and increased intensity of land use beyond borders. The causes of the growth in protected areas are opaque. We can show that there are powerful forces in the European psyche promoting them, and that they are convenient for diverse business interests. But we cannot fully explain why these ideas should have become so popular in Tanzania. Whatever its origins, however, the net result of all this activity is that conservation does not conserve the past, it actively imagines and recreates it, preserving an entirely new state of affairs.