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Minister Edna Molewa to open the 7th People and Parks Conference

15 September 2016

 

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.

The 7th People and Parks Conference which is convened under the theme: “Unlocking Protected Areas Economic Potential”, brings together more than 500 role players from different spheres of government, representatives of communities living adjacent to protected areas, conservation authorities, non-governmental organisations, civic organisations, academic institutions, traditional leaders and land owners.

South Africa is home to more than 9 million hectares of protected areas network, which includes national parks, nature reserves and world heritage sites, equating to about 8% of the country’s land. These protected areas, among other things, serve as sites for conserving South Africa’s ecosystems, protection of high biodiversity value and provision of ecosystem services. Most of these protected areas are geographically located in rural areas, forming an integral system with rural communities whose livelihoods and cultures are closely dependent on.

The biennial conference provides a platform for stocktaking on progress being made in addressing land claims issues affecting protected areas and measures instituted to facilitate the contribution of protected areas in the enhancement rural livelihoods.

The hosting of this year’s People and Parks Conference forms part of the building blocks towards the 7th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) from 24 September to 5 October 2016. COP17 will focus its attentions on the future operations of the organisation, but also deliberate on the role of CITES in securing the livelihoods of people living with wildlife and ensuring communities are considered in terms of interventions implemented in terms of this Convention.

Members of the media are invited to attend and cover the conference as per the details below:

Date: 20 – 22 September 2016

Venue: Accolades Boutique Venue, 72 Dale Road, Midrand

Time: 09:00 – 16:00

To RSVP, contact:

Ernest Mulibana
Cell: 082 2637372 /
E-mail: EMulibana@environment.gov.za

Sibusiso Mkhulisi
Tel: 012 399 8992 /
E-mail: SMkhulisi@environment.gov.za

For media queries, contact

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871

About People and Parks Programme

The People and Parks Programme in South Africa was born out of the World Parks Congress held in Durban in 2003. On the eve of this congress, The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) [the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT)] organised for communities from the Richtersveld, Khomani San, Riemvasmaak, Makuleke areas and communities from iSimangaliso (then known as St Lucia) to meet at Cape Vidal. They represented the people who had been removed or directly threatened with removals from protected areas to make way for wildlife and conservation.

The congress highlighted the important role protected areas play in sustainable development, conservation and fighting poverty. It also highlighted the importance of involving local people as equal partners in PAs, which should include decision making, management and sharing of benefits. The World Parks Congress and the Programme of Work on Protected Areas at the Convention on Biodiversity Diversity (CBD) showed strong commitment of the international conservation communities and governments to protecting and upholding the rights of communities affected by conservation programmes.

The People and Parks Programme has come a long way since the World Parks Congress held in Durban in 2003 and the first People and Parks Forum session held in Swadini in October, 2004. Since then the programme has gained momentum in identifying specific activities and processes that address issues at the interface between conservation and the communities.

At these conferences, all people with interests in protected areas, are invited to participate. They share their experiences, discussed the challenges they faced and highlighted best practice examples for everyone to learn from. These conferences are used to track the progress of the People and Parks Programme in South Africa.