Fifth (5th) People and Parks Conference

Event date: 
2012-09-05 (All day)

People nand Parks Conference 2012


Introduction and background

The Department of Environmental Affairs will host the fifth People and Parks Conference in Bloemfontein, Free State province from 05 - 07 September 2012.  The People and Parks conference was inspired by the World Parks Congress which emphasised the need to consider communities as key stakeholders in parks management under the theme: “Benefits Beyond Boundaries”.

The 7th Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP7) in 2004 on the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a Programme of Work on Protected Areas. The Programme of Work consisted of four (4) elements, the second element focuses on governance, participation, equity and benefit-sharing for communities. The emphasis is on full and effective participation by communities, in full respect of their rights and recognition of their responsibilities.

The NEM: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act no.57 of 2003), enables the Management Authorities of Protected Areas to enter into a co-management agreement with a local community where land has been successfully claimed by a particular community.

In implementing the resolutions of the World Parks Congress, the first People and Parks Conference was held in Swadini, Mpumalanga Province in 2004. One of the resolutions reached in Swadini Conference was to bring communities living adjacent to parks onboard.

DEA promulgated Protected Areas Act and Biodiversity Act in order to promote access, equitable sharing of benefits and active participation of communities living in and around protected areas in the management of these areas. These Acts are also intended to strengthen partnerships and enhance the implementation of conservation and developmental programmes.  To date DEA has convened four People and Parks conferences, in different provinces.

  • 2004 - Swadini People and Parks Conference (Mpumalanga)
  • 2006 - Beaufort West National Conference ( Western Cape)
  • 2008 - Mafikeng National Conference (North West).
  • 2010 – Zululand University National Conference (KwaZulu Natal)


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Themes and messages 


"Conservation for the people with the people" and "Our land, our heritage: Building blocks for sustainable development”


Land claim settlement: Since the 2010 Conference no claim has been settled to date neither has there been any title deed awarded to the settled claim. This is due to the policy transformation that has taken place within the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. This is a greatest issue of concern from community side as they view this as the lack of government willingness to settle claims or transfer of title deeds.

Showcasing world heritage: The 2012 conference will be coinciding with the 40th Anniversary of Heritage.

Mainstreaming of gender and youth matters:  South Africa has long identified youth and fair gender representation in all programme as one of the strategy that will ensure sustainability in all programmes, therefore this year’s conference is going to streamline the gender and youth matters into the People and Parks programme

Showcasing of People and Parks capacity building programme: The programme has the capacity of building programmes where neighbouring communities are trained to understand all applicable legislation, co-management and the role they can play in the management of protected areas.  The programme is driven through the implementation of a highly ambitious action plan which is underpinned by the following fundamental thematic areas:

  • Strengthening of the protected area estate (to ensure expansion and management effectiveness)
  • Land reform and co-management
  • Rural development
  • Financial resourcing and strengthening of partnerships
  • Awareness, education and capacity building

South Africa's Contribution


Developing institutional and societal capacity

To ensure communities benefited from the programme, a need was identified to build strong institutions through developing institutional and societal capacity (of management authorities, communities, indigenous peoples, and stakeholders) to manage protected areas. Capacity building and awareness were recognised as fundamental cornerstones for building effective and meaningful partnerships between management authorities and their surrounding communities.

Through the partnership with Resource Africa which is an NGO, the DEA has trained 400 beneficiaries (communities) in eight protected areas across the country. In addition, the partnership programme has undertaken a skills audit on 350 SMMEs and has requested CATHSETA to provide a formal training for these enterprises. In order to create awareness on the importance of natural resources, rhino management and benefit sharing, the programme has trained 170 youth on theatre performance. This outreach training was made possible through the employment of 12 youth. This year , 2012), another 500 will be trained in 12 identified protected areas.


Contribution in reducing unemployment and poverty alleviation

The bringing onboard of communities in co-management is making a significant contribution in reducing unemployment and poverty alleviation.  To date co-management agreements have been signed and benefiting communities through jobs, use of local contractors, bursaries and procurement of goods and services from local Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).  A steady rise in benefits is expected when the outstanding 77 land claims in Protected Areas are settled as more co-management agreements would be signed. 

Solicited communities' concerns include the slow pace of settling land claims and poor consultation with beneficiary communities.  These concerns are receiving attention.  The DEA and LDLR Deputy Ministers have since met to explore ways to expedite the resolution of the 77 land claims.

Access for learners and teachers to South African national parks

The People's and Parks conference also includes the Kids in Parks programme which is an environmental education initiative that seeks to enhance access for learners and teachers to South African national parks. The programme provides meaningful environmental learning to equip the leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge (including numeracy and literacy), skills and values required to take action for the environment. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2010 and 4 882 learners and 209 educators have since participated.  This programme is kept strong by the DEA, the Department of Basic Education (DoBE), South African National Parks(SANParks)  as well its major sponsor, Pick n’ Pay.


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