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Minister Edna Molewa calls for community participation in conservation

29 September 2016

 

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa has called for recognition and involvement of rural communities in the conservation of biodiversity during discussions on livelihoods and food security at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) currently underway in Johannesburg.

“South Africa initiated the implementation of the Biodiversity Economy Strategy as a key transformational intervention to ensure that rural communities’ development takes place especially in communities that have benefitted from our land reform process and opportunities relating to legal international trade will form part of this programme,” said Minister Molewa.

On matters relating to food security, “South Africa supports the principle contained in the resolution as it promotes food and nutrition security, preservation of cultural identity and security of livelihoods within the CITES context,” said Minister Molewa.

The support of CITES resolutions on community livelihoods, nutrition and food security, is embedded on the Department of Environmental Affairs’ People and Parks Programme, which promotes conservation for the people with the people. It is through the People and Parks Programme that the DEA is actively involved in restoring and maintaining natural ecosystems to stimulate rural economies; upgrading and developing new infrastructure in protected areas to boost tourism, developing commercial assets for communities owning and/or living around protected areas; and supporting related industries.

“Our people are the first line of defence for the animals in our protected areas and they have a critical role to play not just in protecting our wildlife assets, but in growing the wildlife economy to make it more inclusive,” said Minister Molewa

Given South Africa’s rich biological diversity that offers huge economic potential, Government has adopted the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, which is at the heart of promoting guardianship of wildlife within communities. The strategy seeks to increase the biodiversity contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while conserving the country’s ecosystems. It also aims to contribute to the transformation of the biodiversity economy through inclusive economic opportunities, thereby ensuring equitable benefit of natural resources.

The People and Parks Programme invests in infrastructure development and biodiversity conservation for economic benefits by ensuring that local communities are involved in the management of protected and surrounding areas, by promoting biodiversity values in the proclaimed protected and surrounding areas. On the other hand, the Wildlife Economy Programme fosters community participation to a sustainable beneficiation of wildlife.

These projects are implemented through the DEA’s Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP), which funds the implementation of various projects aimed at protecting integrity of the environment in South Africa.

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