A critical analysis of the socioeconomic impact assessments of the Addo Elephant National Park

Rose, Matthew Calvin (2010) A critical analysis of the socioeconomic impact assessments of the Addo Elephant National Park. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Impact assessment is a requirement for development in many countries across the globe, seeking to inform the decision-maker as to the environmental, social and economic impact of an ongoing or proposed project. Socioeconomic impact assessment (SEIA) is a means of informing decision-makers as to the socioeconomic effects a project could have, or is having, thus contributing to informing adaptive management practices. However, the tendency of socioeconomic impact assessment to highly quantitative economic methods of analysis raises the question of whether the desired results are achieved by the process. The purpose of the research was to determine whether highly quantitative forms of economic analysis are suitable for measurement of impacts in a social context where distributive as well as net impact is important; to critically analyze the method utilized in achieving highly quantitative economic impact assessment results; and lastly to draw conclusions and make recommendations regarding the efficacy of monitoring processes used to inform adaptive management practices. The research was conducted by means of a case study focusing on three SEIAs carried out on the same entity, namely the Addo Elephant National Park. Managed by South African National Parks (SANP), it began expanding its borders in the early 2000s. Funded by the World Bank, SANP was required to carry out a comprehensive Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in 2003 to ensure the expansion did not have negative environmental, social and economic repercussions, and where such consequences were unavoidable, to ensure that mitigation and management thereof was informed by useful monitoring exercises. Given the need for resettlement and issues of economic distributive concern raised in the 2003 SEA, the three socioeconomic impact assessments conducted from 2005 – 2010 as part of the ongoing monitoring exercises formed an ideal framework for answering the primary research questions. The findings indicate that despite consistent terms of reference, different assessors interpret mandates from the commissioning body in different ways, leading to varied applications of the same theory, some methodologically better than others. Economic multiplier analysis was found to be inadequate as a measure of the distributive effects of economic impact. Moreover, a lack of consistency, accountability and transparency in the monitoring process led to three sets of results that were incomparable over time and thus inadequate as a means to inform adaptive management practices. Asymmetries of and between power and expertise in the commissioning body and the assessors led to breakdowns of the assessment process in terms of accountability and integrity and resulted in a failure to properly define the scope of the study and measure the relevant indicators. The following recommendations were made: that the economic multiplier method be complemented by additional methods of analysis when utilized in disparate social contexts where distribution of economic benefit is important; that monitoring practices be systematized at an early stage of the process to ensure comparable results useful in informing ongoing management practices; and that what an assessment measures and how it measures it be clarified with reference to an objective source. Finally, the number of factors for consideration in any impact assessment means that measurement of the full picture suffers resource constraints, emphasizing the need for impact assessment oversight to recognize the deficiencies of the process whilst still acknowledging that ‘some number is better than no number’.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa, South African National Parks, Economic impact analysis, Environmental impact analysis
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Commerce > Economics and Economic History
ID Code:2080
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:10 Oct 2011 07:38
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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