Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea


SanParks 2040 vision unveiled

The project, run by the SANParks board, will be an inclusive stakeholder consultation process

Various stakeholders came out in support of South African National Parks (SANParks) Vision 2040 this week, which promised inclusivity, collaboration and transformation, among other things.

South Africa’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy officially launched Vision 2040, which aimed to rethink the current situation and develop national protected areas and protected area agencies to be world-class in all aspects.

Black communities and outskirts

Creecy said there’s been major social and economic exclusion within black communities on the outskirts of protected areas and this vision was aimed at including previously marginalised communities and changing concepts which led to this.

“I think there have definitely been strides in recent times in bringing more and more people into the biodiversity and conservation economy,” she said.

“However, very often those who were historically disadvantaged have been working in service categories in the lower paid professions and the ownership was still in relatively few hands.”


She said the fundamental challenge SA would face in addressing Vision 2040 was how human beings would change from fencing off conservation areas, to integrating the wildlife.

“From keeping them as areas of curiosity to a situation where we allow nature into our daily lives and allow nature to flourish and to provide the ecosystem services that we solely need for our daily existence,” she said.

“This vision is about considering how we will do that in a way that helps us address some of the fundamental problems we have in our country, problems of economics exclusion, poverty and inequality.”

Creecy said the idea of taking down fences was not just a concept about how they want to work with communities on the outskirts of protected areas.

“One of the fences we need to take down is the knowledge fence.” SANParks board chair Pam Yako and said the most important part of the SANParks vision was the inclusion of relations with key stakeholders such as the tourism sector, communities, partners in conservation and making sure their voices were heard.

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Following years of conflict between traditional healers and national parks, managing director at Nature Speaks and Responds Gogo Nomsa Sibeko, alongside Youth in Conservation, the SA National Biodiversity Institute and the Tourism Business Council of SA, pledged their support on condition they would be included in the implementation process.

Sibeko said traditional healers were happy to see a vision “that finally includes us, a lot of things have happened around us, about us, but never including us”.

“Unofficially, we measure about 400 000 of us across SA, in every town, city and township we are there. However, we are one of the most marginalised and ignored members of society,” she said.

“Which is strange because majority of our people come to us regularly. Secondly, it is strange because we are the users of everything natural you can find out there.

“But every single time we speak conserva- tion, national parks or nature itself, healers are never involved. And, unfortunately, a lot of what we use is within those parks and we have to get it, according to them, illegally.

“And this ends up leading to overharvesting, because we’re not sure that if we try to go back again tomorrow, we won’t be shot and killed or arrested.”

The project, run by the SANParks board, will be an inclusive stakeholder consultation process that will help create the National Parks and Conservation Agency 2040. –

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Kruger National Park (KNP)