Fergus O’Leary Simpson, Romain Lwaboshi, Yves Ikobo, Papy Mulume
Discussion paper 2022.02

This discussion paper contributes to ongoing debates over militarised conservation and armed mobilisation surrounding protected areas situated in violent environments. Presenting evidence from wartorn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park, it shows how fortress conservation and its militarised enforcement have no doubt contributed to at least one major incident of violent resistance over recent years, but are by no means the main source of armed group mobilisation in and around the park. Drawing inspiration from structuration theory, it shows how socio-structural features of the landscape in which the park is embedded have led to a state of seemingly perpetual armed group mobilisation and violence. Individual agents can either serve to reproduce or reshape the social structure through the unintended consequences of their actions, thus setting off a self-reinforcing feedback loop. We conclude that although militarised conservation interacts with the structuration of mobilisation in the Kahuzi-Biega landscape, it is probably not integral to it.

Key words
Militarised conservation, resistance, armed mobilisation, structuration, eastern DRCongo