Biodiversity Economy Innovation Conference

Event date: 
2018-08-25 (All day) to 2018-08-27 (All day)

introduction -the beginning       schedule      
Purpose and anticipated outcomes
About People and Parks conference
Event programme /  schedule
Related links




The Department of Environmental Affairs recently held its 3rd Biodiversity Economy Indaba (BEI) between the 7th and the 10th of March 2018. The 3rd Biodiversity Economy Indaba comes hot on the heels of the recent completion of the amendments of the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy following the successful Operation Phakisa-Biodiversity Economy lab held in the year 2016. As one of the Presidential Phakisa programmes, profiling the Biodiversity Economy will assist to accelerate and unlock transformation, stimulate innovation based economic development through investment, and enhance sectoral sustainability in the medium to long term.

Innovation in the South African Biodiversity Economy is novel, in that, it has inputs from our indigenous biodiversity, input from indigenous/traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity use, and lastly input from the country’s scientific research and development fraternity. In other words, biodiversity related innovation is also inclusive by involving domestic individuals (directly or indirectly) in the development of innovation products. In recent market missions it was observed that offshore markets readily invest in many folds, in an inclusive innovation model like the one demonstrated for the biodiversity economy.

The scope of innovation products in the biodiversity economy include bioprospecting and biotrade products (e.g. cosmetic and pharmaceutical); wildlife products (e.g. nutrition and consumer goods); and ecotourism products (game lodges and services). In the Ecotourism sub-sector of the biodiversity economy, protected and conservation areas have positioned our country as a tourist destination of choice. However, the scenic and majestic beauty of our country and the economic potential derived from its natural assets would be worthless, unless it is sustainably shared with communities which were historically marginalized or forcefully removed from their land, to pave way for the establishment of protected areas. The People and Parks Programme is a national programme having principles and initiates responding to integration needs of a biodiversity economy and local communities. 

Whilst the country is on trajectory of crowding of key players in the different sub-sectors of the biodiversity economy, to have a salient throughput of domestic innovation products, investment in various forms (monetary and non-monetary) is needed, to become a leading biodiversity economic player in the global fraternity. Investment in the biodiversity economy will assist the country to advance from not only being the third most biodiverse country, but also hold a similar profile in the socio-economic landscapes. It is envisaged that a Biodiversity Economy Innovation Conference integrating the 8th People and Parks Conference, will showcase the long history of collaborative innovation outcomes, as well as showcase the advanced degree of sector collaboration and readiness to move South Africa forward through the biodiversity economy. Having leadership such as the President at the conference will also catalyse raising the profile of the sector for investment attraction.


Purpose and anticipated outcomes

South Africa has a long history of formal and informal initiatives linked to innovation in the biodiversity economy. The domestic and international trade of biodiversity economy innovation products contributes 3 billion to national GDP, and by the year 2030, the sector aspires to grow the economic stream at 10% per annum, and add an additional 110 000 new jobs. Thus, the purpose of the Biodiversity Economy Innovation Conference is: 

  • to profile the Biodiversity Economy with the People and Parks Programme as an investment-ready platform and as a significant contributor to the national system of innovation, including national imperatives, such as, job creation, unemployment and inequality, which are guided by the principles of sustainable utilisation and conservation of the country’s biological indigenous resources by hosting a National Biodiversity Economy Innovation Conference in Limpopo Province, which is in attendance by the President of the Republic of South Africa.

The anticipated outcomes of the Biodiversity Economy Innovation Conference are as follows:

  • The innovation potential of the biodiversity economy is recognised and promoted.
  • The potential of the biodiversity economy to yield a salient return on investment is recognised and considered for promotion in high level investment summits of the country.
  • The job creation opportunities of the biodiversity economy are acknowledged and considered for profiling in the high level jobs summits of the country. 
  • Biodiversity economy as a key contributor to the Agricultural and Tourism sectors’ Gross Domestic Product(GDP) is acknowledged subsequently its potential contribute to the national imperatives, that is, job creation, unemployment and inequality is acknowledged 
  • Business and skills development opportunities for communities in the Biodiversity Economy identified.
  • Land as a key resource to unlock opportunities presented by the biodiversity economy for community benefits is recognised and acknowledged within Biodiversity Economy interventions.
  • Reflection on progress made on People and Parks programme implementation in line with Biodiversity Economy.
  • Collaboration opportunities for communities within TFCAs identified.


The People and Parks Programme

People in South Africa (SA) inhabit a country that occupies only two percent of the earth surface, yet is endowed with an immense wealth of natural resources. As the world’s third most mega-biodiverse country, much of SA’s wealth is contained in our vast array of plants and animals. This natural heritage encompasses 6 Transfronteir conservation areas, 10 World Heritage Sites, 25 Marine Protected Areas, 21 National Parks, 2 Special Nature Reserves, 10 Biosphere reserve, 51 Forest nature reserves, 12 Forest Wilderness Areas, 17 Mountain catchment areas, 26 protected environments and 1332 Nature Reserves.

These protected and conservation areas have positioned our as a tourist destination of choice. Furthermore, our rich Biodiversity has globally been identified as the cornerstone for economic growth and sustainable development.  However, the scenic and majestic beauty of our country and the economic potential derived from its natural assets would be worthless, unless it is sustainably shared with communities which were historically marginalized or forcefully removed from their land, to pave way for the establishment of protected areas. 

To address the injustice of the past, the People and Parks Programme was established as a joint government-community initiative aimed at ensuring that local communities play a pivotal role in the governance of protected areas in the country. The overall aim of the People and Parks Programme is to address issues at the interface between conservation and communities in particular the realization of tangible benefits by communities including those who were previously displaced to pave way for protected areas establishment prior the democratic dispensation, under the slogan: Conservation for the people with the people. Further to the establishment of People and Parks programme in South Africa, the department co-hosted 7 national conferences with different provinces since 2002, primarily to address emotive issues at the interface between conservation and communities. In particular, tangible benefits and land restoration/ownership for communities who were previously displaced. The national conference has then been seen as a vehicle for engagement between spheres of government and communities, and a political decision taken to host them bi-annually.

The People and Parks programme is guided by vision, mission, key pillars and programme areas informing the operations of the programme.

  • People and Parks Programme Vision
    • “Unlocking the socio- economic potential and total transformation of protected areas for the benefit of communities”
  • People and Parks Programme Mission

“Communities, government and conservation agencies working in partnership to ensure the restoration of land rights; creation of socio-economic opportunities, participation in decision making, and building capacity for the sustainable biodiversity conservation”

  • People and Parks Programme Key Pillars
    • Restoration of Land Rights- to the rightful owners by settling land-claims and entering into co-management agreements which allow the claimed land to be still managed under conservation with defined community rights and benefits;
    • Co-Governance-this involves setting up structures related to co-management, ensuring participation of communities at entities’ board level and other co-ordination structures are engaged in consultation, sharing information and discussing various social responsibility initiatives and all of this is aimed at recognising communities (inclusive of the youth) as important partners in the management of the conservation estate;
    • Economic Development- this is done through creating economic opportunities and beneficiation through, among other things, payment of land rental fees, procuring services from nearby communities; facilitation of ownership of tourism establishments by communities., game donation,  various initiatives aimed at enterprise  development and ensuring communities partake  and benefit in the economic activities of the protected areas;
    • Capacity Building and Awareness-this involves investing in skills development through providing bursaries; learnerships, internships, training of community members, hosting career expos, exchange visits, etc.; and
    • Community Stewardship-this involves building a strong partnership with communities to ensure that they are involved in conserving natural and cultural heritage and combating poaching of flora and fauna.
  • People and Parks Programme Areas
    • Capacity building and Awareness
    • Socio-Economic Development.
    • Land Reform.
    • Youth Empowerment & Development.
    • Combating Poaching
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Event schedule


Day 1 (25/08/2018) Day 2 (26/08/2018) Day 3 (27/08/2018)
  • Biodiversity Walk
    • Tour of Thohoyandou Botanical Garden and showcase of plants prioritised for Bioprospecting
  • Biodiversity Economy Innovation Conference- Presidential Event
    • High Level Biodiversity Economy Innovation Session with the opening of the 8th People and Parks Conference
    • Day long Biodiversity Economy Innovation centered exhibition
    • People and Parks Programme meetings (Govt, Community, Youth)
  • 8th People & Parks Conference
    • High-level session
    • Commissions
  • 8th People & Parks Conference
    • Reporting, Resolutions and Closure


Part 1: 

a) Presidential Biodiversity Walk, From University of Venda to Thohoyandou Botanical Garden, Limpopo Province
b) Sustainable supply of natural ingredients technical tour of the Thohoyandou Botanical Garden

The Thohoyandou Botanical Garden is an 82 hectares popular garden in the Limpopo Province and homes a variety of indigenous plant species. The garden is claimed by the Mphaphuli Community which is currently in negotiations. A walk about of a live demonstration of high potential plant species for the bioprospecting/biotrade sector and discussions will be held on mass cultivation interventions to meet domestic and offshore market demand

Part 2: 

a) Presidential Biodiversity Economy Innovation Session 

The opening of the Biodiversity Economy Event by Political Principals. The President of South Africa-His Excellency President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa will officiate the following undertakings: (see draft programme as Part 1)

  • Launch of the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy
  • Celebrate the outcomes of the Operation Phakisa-Biodiversity Economy
  • Official opening of the 8th People and Parks Conference

b) Innovation centred exhibition- Operation Phakisa Biodiversity Economy

The Sector will be given an opportunity to exhibit information materials, natural products derived from indigenous biological resources and associated traditional knowledge, wildlife products and services, and ecotourism offerings. All spheres of Government and its entities and private sector associations and civil society will exhibit information materials which includes among others, banners, posters, brochures and CDs pertaining to the biodiversity economy. Thus, the exhibition will comprise the following:

  • Exhibition Stands showcasing the Biodiversity Economy and relation to achieving the outcomes of the Operation Phakisa-Biodiversity Economy Lab.
  • Innovation zones will be created for the sub-sectors of the biodiversity economy to showcase latest innovations seeking investment.
  • Networking areas for creating linkages, starting collaboration discussions, sharing innovations. 

Part 3:

a) Biodiversity Economy Transformation Event: Game handover to the Ha Matsila community

The Ha-Matsila is located Makhado Local Municipality in Vhembe District, Limpopo. The Matsila Community Development Trust (MCDT) was established by the Matsila Royal Family in terms of Section 6(1) of the Trust Property Control Act, 1998 to facilitate and co-ordinate socio-economic development activities within Ha-Matsila Village and surrounding communities.  This trust was established by the Matsila Royal Family in consultation with members of the Matsila Community. One of the Trust’s key responsibilities is to facilitate socio-economic development partnerships between the Matsila Community, private sector and government.  The priority areas of focus in terms of socio-economic development as identified by the community include Rural Development, Environmental Management, Arts and Culture, Tourism, Agriculture and Social Development.

The MCDT has implemented an Integrated Rural Development Model with the intention of increasing the ability of community members to diversify livelihood opportunities by generating alternative income and providing employment. Economic activities that undertaken by the Trust funded through various government and private sector investment which currently employs approximately 300 individuals from Ha-Matsila and the neighbouring communities includes farming (crop and livestock), agroprocessing facilities such as a butchery and a milling plan, tourism (a lodge that is fully equipped with a conference centre, swimming pools and a dining area can also be found) and environmental awareness. 

The Trust was recently assisted by the Department of Environmental Affairs to establish a three hundred hectares game farm for the purpose of intensively breeding high value species. This is in response to the implementation of the wildlife economy lab initiatives which seek to transform the broader wildlife sector of South Africa by assisting new entrants with the necessary infrastructural development facilities such as game fence, water reticulation, accommodation, access to start game species among others. The DEA through its Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programmes, makes financial resources available to support the mandate of the Department whilst at the same time advancing the national development goals of skills development and poverty reduction. The funding provided by DEA is there to give a head-start to a business venture and to reaffirm government commitment in advancing and transforming the biodiversity economy. 

In terms of addressing the challenge of access to game species, government institutions and the private sector plays a pivotal role as various mechanism such as game donations, loaning, acquisition, targeted auctions, feasible partnership agreements etc., can be implemented to address the status quo. Consequently, one of the target for the sector is to see 300 000 heads of game species in the hands of black people by the year 2030. To achieve this target, the department is working closely with South African National Parks, provincial conservation departments, provincial conservation. The game donation/loaning programme implemented by the respective organisations in undertaken in accordance to their respective game donation/loaning/custodianship policies. This programme will also be aligned to the soon-to-be finalised National Wildlife Donation and Custodianship Policy Framework developed by the DEA.

The Conservation Authorities and the Entity have made great strides towards achieving this target as 821 game animals were donated/loaned to PDIs and communities during the 2017/2018 financial year. The Conservation Authorities and the Entity have further made  commitments to loan or donate game animals to Previously Disadvantaged Indivisuals(PDIs) and communities during the 3rd Biodiversity Economy Indaba, this includes amongst others a pledge by SANParks to loan 3 000 heads of game to emerging wildlife farmers in the next three years, Ezemvelo KZN wildlife pledged to loan 1 200 heads of game over four years while Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency pledges to loan 1500 heads of game over five years. The role of the private sector cannot be over-emphasized as new entrants in the biodiversity economy require skills; mentorship, and investment to realise the full economic benefits and opportunities presented by the biodiversity economy.

Nevertheless, the Matsila Community Development Trust applied for a game donation from SANParks towards the establishment of the wildlife economy project at the Matsila village The objectives of the project include among others; (a) game breeding on a 300 ha property, (b) a small game viewing initiative supporting an existing lodge (c) an education and awareness initiative using the larger area for experiential learning for learners and other ages around the Vuwani area. The request for a game donation was supported by SANParks Wildlife Economy Steering Committee and subsequently, recommended to EXCO for approval.  The EXCO meeting of November 2016 approved the donation of five (5) disease free buffalo from SANParks to the Matsila Community Development Trust. The buffalo were captured from Graspan in the vicinity of the Mokala National Park and have since been translocated to the village. The Trust have also been fortunate to receive game species from the President of the South Africa-President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa. Being a success game farmer himself, this donation is important to highlight private sectors’ role in the transformation of the wildlife sector. 

Given the progress made by the Trust, it is envisaged that the President will offically launch the Ha-Matsila game farm. Activities to occur on the day include a ribbon cutting event of a fully-operational community game farm (which was fenced by the DEA ) consisting of ten (10) Buffalos, fifteen (15) Impalas, Eleven (11) Elands and fifteen (15) Nyalas. 

Sources / related links


Related Branch Oceans and Coasts  Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora  Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations
Related Biodiversity and Conservation
 The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa
People and Parks conference
Soutn African National Parks (SANParks)
South African National Biodiversity Institute



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