Significant resources are required to conserve South Africa’s landscapes and their associated biodiversity and ecosystem services. These include freshwater, fresh air, carbon sequestration, healthy soil, healthy insect populations for pollination, and healthy grasslands for freshwater conservation and abundant grazing. All are critical for our health and survival.
An effective way to practically and affordably achieve this is for all the role-players – communal and private landowners, conservation organisations, government, universities, business, and industry – to collectively manage our landscapes, expand the protected areas footprint countrywide and achieve impact at scale.
Formally protected areas include declared nature reserves, contract national parks and protected environments. They are legislated under the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act and are afforded a high level of formal protection. Implementation of the Act on private and communal land is guided by the country’s biodiversity stewardship programme and implemented via provincial stewardship programmes.
Since the early 2000s the WWF Nedbank Green Trust has funded the expansion of protected areas throughout South Africa, both the declaration process and the post-declaration management support. The latter is essential for all protected areas to be appropriately managed and environmentally and economically sustained, so as to maintain the biodiversity values for which they were secured.
A post-declaration management support project the WWF Nedbank Green Trust is currently funding, spans large tracts of communally- and privately owned protected areas in the greater Kruger National Park (KNP) and KwaZulu-Natal. The project is being managed by the KZN-based conservation NGO, Conservation Outcomes.
Essentially the project is supporting the landowners to continually improve the management of their protected areas. This includes veld condition assessments, assisting landowners draw up an annual plan of operation, which includes veld rehabilitation, water conservation, fire management, alien invasive vegetation control, sustainable cattle or game management, and then supporting their application for the tax benefit and exemptions. In addition, a key activity is to support these landowners in the development of valueadd businesses to boost income streams for financial sustainability. This includes a game and livestock meat programme, and, down the line, the potential of selling carbon credits.
The project is currently supporting approximately 25 declared communal and private protected areas in KZN, including the Mabaso community, Nambiti Private Game Reserve, Blue Crane Nature Reserve, the Gcumisa community, Babanango Game Reserve, Somkhanda Game Reserve, the Ingwehumbe Nature Reserve and the Sappi owned Clairmont Nature Reserve. In KNP, Conservation Outcomes and a number of other NGO partners are supporting several communal and private protected areas.
For further information visit https://www.conservation-outcomes.org/