The idealization of the natural environmental as a virtual garden of Eden during colonization
and apartheid in South Africa has continued to influence mainstream conservationists focusing
purely on nature – excluding environmental justice concerns. If issues of environmental justice
are neglected, then biodiversity is also at risk. The paper draws on empirical analysis in Durban
and Johannesburg with conservationists and environmental advocates to explore the relationship
between conservation and environmental justice. Results indicate that the potential for collaboration
is complex. Issues of leadership, social networking/participation, divergent ideologies and
corporate sponsorship hinder effective integration. Despite limitations, the WESSA (Wildlife and
Environmental Society of South Africa), KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) serves as a model for integrating with
environmental justice concerns. Not only must conservationists and environmental advocates forge
linkages by strategically networking, but there is a need to negotiate between divergent ideologies
to engage on a common platform for a more holistic green agenda.
Keywords: conservation, environmental justice, urban risks, holistic green agenda
Leonard, L. (2013) The relationship between the conservation agenda and environmental justice in post-apartheid South Africa: An analysis of WESSA KwaZulu-Natal and environmental justice advocates, South African Review of Sociology, Volume 44(3), 2-21.