7th People and Parks Conference
Since the initiation of the People and Parks Programme in South Africa, the country has taken pride in many forums outlining significant progress in the involvement of local communities on matters of protected areas management. This has always been seen as an excellent achievement, particularly on attempts to redress the ills of the past associated with the manner in which most of our protected areas were established pre-democratic South Africa.
The 6th People and Parks Conference highlighted progress in the implementation of the People and Parks Programme. This was coupled with illustrations of projects undertaken to the satisfaction of the communities. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) will once again co-host the 7th People and Parks National Conference from 20 to 22 September 2016 in Accolades Boutique, Gauteng where progress on implementation of the programme will be highlighted. Official invitation letters have been sent to all relevant stakeholders. The conference will be attended by approximately 500 delegates coming from government, conservation agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), universities, Chief Land Claims Commission (CLCC), land claimants and local communities.
As part of the on-going series of biannual conferences, the 7th People and Parks conference aims to once again bring together representatives of key constituencies engaged in protected areas to build on and develop the future of the People and Parks programme, share progress and chart the future.
As People and Parks Conference is an on-going biannual event, each time it is hosted, its relevance to the prevailing circumstances need to be attained. Therefore, the objectives of the 7th People and Parks National Conference are to:
a. Unlocking economic potential of Protected Areas in the space of People and Parks Programme
b. Reflect on challenges and successes since the inception of the programme
c. Track progress on the implementation of the 6th conference resolutions
d. Launch Youth Conservation Programme and National Community Rhino Programme
e. Renewal of Kids in Parks MoU amongst Pick n Pay, DBE, SANParks and DEA
f. Reflect on the status on the progress of land claims settlement in Protected Areas, challenges and recommendations to fast-track the conclusion of the remaining claims
g. Review co-management framework and facilitate access and benefit sharing strategies from Protected Areas
h. Continue to strengthen partnership/relationship between government and communities.
Theme:“Unlocking Protected Areas Economic Potential”
Linking to the recent work undertaken by the department on Biodiversity Economy Lab, one of the profound outcomes of the lab was the issue of using protected areas to unlock the economic potential of protected areas for the benefit of our people around our protected areas and for the land claimants. This will drive the focus of the conference as it is being seen as an important opportunity to demonstrate the value of protected areas to conference participates and communities.
During the conference, an opportunity for participants to break away into different commissions will be given. This is where different aspects of the implementation of people and parks programme will be discussed to come up with resolutions to be implemented in the next two years to take the programme forward.
Commission 1: Youth Empowerment
Relevant issues for discussion
a. How to involve youth in Conservation
b. Discussions around careers for youth in the conservation sector
c. Determining best mechanisms to mobilize youth to participate in biodiversity conservation
d. Discussing roles that can be played by youth against poaching of fauna and flora etc.
Commission 2: Unlocking economic potential of protected areas in the space of People and Parks Programme
Relevant issues for discussions
a. Unpacking of Biodiversity Economy LAB outcomes related to Previously Disadvantaged Individuals (PDIs).
b. Getting communities to understand biodiversity economy and the role they can play to make the concept be realised.
c. What are the activities which can be undertaken in PAs to maximize benefits to PDIs.
d. Dissolving existing hurdles impeding the realization of the benefits from PAs and conservation space in general.
e. Discussions around partnerships with competent operators to venture into businesses within protected areas.
f. Distilling approaches and ways of maximising economic benefits and sharing models amongst stakeholders.
Commission 3: Combating poaching of endangered fauna and flora
Relevant issues for discussion:
a. Discussions and compilation of People and Parks CITES COP 17 community voice/message to be delivered to the COP.
b. Advocacy, education and awareness elements around ensuring that poaching is highlighted as bad practices on biodiversity conservation
c. Determination of Projects around rhino that will elevate the value of the species to ordinary citizens so that they will make efforts to save them
d. Discussions around mechanisms to rollout the programme that will be inclusive of communities. Making matters of poaching as community’s story and concern etc.
Commission 4: Settlement of PAs Land Claims, conclusion and implementation of co-management agreements (aligning workshop outcomes to the P&P Conference)
Relevant issues for discussions:
a. Discussion on the outcome of the land claims and co – management workshop.
b. Reaffirmation of the implementation of the action plan to expedite the conclusion of protected areas lands claims.
c. Enhancing government partnership working with land claim.
d. Determination of beneficiation from PAs.
e. Ascertaining settlement models that will stand the recent times etc.
Minister Edna Molewa to open the 7th People and Parks Conference
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Honourable Edna Molewa will officially open the 7th People and Parks Conference at the Accolades Boutique Venue, Midrand on Tuesday 20 September 2016.
Soutn African National Parks (SANParks)