South African National Parks (SANParks)
South African National Parks (SANParks) was established in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act No 57 of 2003). In terms of this act, the primary mandate of SANParks is to oversee the conservation of South Africa’s biodiversity, landscapes and associated heritage assets through a system of national parks.
The core areas that provide a fundamental basis of SANParks’ mandate are conservation management through the national parks system, constituency building and people-focused ecotourism management, and corporate governance and sound business and operational management.
The organisation plays a significant role in the promotion of South Africa’s nature-based tourism or ecotourism business, targeted at both international and domestic tourism markets. The ecotourism pillar of the business architecture provides for the organisation’s self-generated revenues from commercial operations that are necessary to supplement government funding of conservation management.
The work of SANParks also focuses on building strategic partnerships at international, national and local levels, in support of the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of South Africa. It also has to ensure that South Africans participate and get involved in biodiversity initiatives, and that all its operations have a synergistic existence with neighbouring communities for their educational and socioeconomic benefit.
SANParks is currently responsible for the management of 22 national parks. The strategic direction of SANParks in the next five years will focus on the following key objectives: enhancing the organisational reputation by bringing trust, confidence and transparency to stakeholders and positioning the organisation as an ultimate brand to be associated with, growing community support and providing access and benefit-sharing, promoting tourism that works to protect the environment and benefit local cultures and communities, and to improve the state of the conservation estate through informed park planning, development and effective biodiversity monitoring.
South African National Parks promotes the conservation of the country’s natural and cultural heritage by managing a network of 22 national parks. SANParks also promotes conservation at local, national and international level.
SANParks annually embarks on initiatives to raise awareness of the organisation and its parks and promote a sense of pride in national parks in the general public. Free access is provided to parks during National Parks Week, thus making parks accessible to citizens who cannot easily afford to visit the parks.
SANParks works in collaboration with the communities surrounding its parks to help alleviate poverty. In 2007/08, various social responsibility programmes that form part of the EPWP and were funded by DEA and the Department of Water Affairs contributed to temporary jobs, training opportunities and the establishment and procurement of SMMEs. In 2007/08 some 2 059 people employed in temporary positions worked 554 967 person days, some 56 331 training days took place that were focused on non-accredited training, and the services of 383 SMMEs were procured. An amount of R40 million was paid to these SMMEs.
The organisation has a very extensive research programme, particularly in the field of biodiversity and conservation. In 2007/08 financial year, a baseline report classified the 423 research projects currently registered at SANParks in terms of the organisation’s research objectives and found that 80% of them were useful.