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Sixth National People and Parks Conference Concluded in Mthatha, Eastern Cape

11 September 2014

 

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) today, Thursday 11 September 2014, concluded the 6th National People and Parks Conference in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. The conference, which took place under the pertinent theme: “10 years of inclusive park management,” was officially opened by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, together with the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr Gugile Nkwinti and Eastern Cape Premier, Mr Phumulo Masualle on Tuesday.

The conference saw over 600 delegates from across the country in attendance. Participants robustly reflected on the work of the programme and also engaged on the future of protected areas and the communities surrounding them. It also showcased government’s commitment and action to integrate local communities in the management of protected areas.

The People and Parks Programme emanated from the 5th World Parks Congress held in Durban in September 2003 which set the scene for an international drive towards increased community involvement in protected areas management.

The conference adopted the Durban Accord which called for commitment and action from government to integrate local communities in the establishment and management of protected areas. Although people and conservation had been on the agenda of the South African government for some time, the World Parks Congress served as a catalyst to give further momentum, legitimacy, credibility and urgency to the efforts.

The People and Parks Programme is a Departmental initiative which aims 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 the establishment of protected areas.  The programme encourages communities to participate in the management and access to benefits of South Africa’s biodiversity conservation, particularly in protected areas.

During the opening ceremony, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr Gugile Nkwinti and the Minister of Environmental Affairs handed over fourteen title deeds to various communities across the country.

Since its inception, the People and Parks Programme has brought about, progressive policies and strategies within protected areas, an expansion of the conservation estate in South Africa, an establishment of governance / coordination structures, access to natural resources, national co-management framework,  and the establishment of educational and awareness programmes.

The DEA launched the National Co-Management Framework in September 2010, and is in accordance to the provisions of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act No.57 of 2003). The purpose of the framework is to ensure more effective redress of land rights in a fair and equitable manner to land claimants. The framework provides for a range of benefit options including revenue sharing, capacity building, development rights and ecotourism benefits.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has been working closely with the DEA through the People and Parks steering committee which consists of Provincial Environment Departments, Regional Land Commissions, protected area management authorities and communities living adjacent to protected areas to discuss challenges related to settlement of land claims.

The sixth People and Parks Conference adopted a Declaration that focused on:

  • Exploring sustainable financing mechanisms for the People and Parks Programme
  • Strengthening partnerships and relationships between Government and Communities
  • Expediting implementation of co-management, and facilitating access and benefit sharing strategies associated with protected areas
  • Addressing poaching of endangered species of fauna and flora

To access photos from the conference, click on the link below:

>> View gallery

To access the, Celebrating 10 years of Collective Conservation of our Parks publication, click on the link below:

>> People & Parks Programme: Celebrating10 years of Collective Conservation of our Parks

To access the Sixth People and Parks Conference Declaration click on the link below:

>> Draft Declaration: Sixth People and Parks Conference Declaration

For media queries contact:

Roopa Singh
Cell: 082 225 3076