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 Post subject: People and Conservation, introduction
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 9:28 pm 
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My name is Uncle Kev.

As a newly appointed Guru I would like to introduce myself and tell you a bit about People and Conservation in SANParks. The organisations mission talks about biodiversity and cultural heritage conservation to the benefit of various constituencies, which is supported by three tiers. These include conservation, tourism and People and Conservation (P&C). A quick glance through debates on the forum show that little debate has been held in the realm of P&C which I hope to rectify. I have been fortunate to have spent the last 17 years working within this "thing" called P&C and hope to be able to open up some debate which will benefit both people and parks in the long term sustainability of protected areas.

I would foremost like to invite you to visit the home page where you will be able to learn a bit more about P&C and that which we strive to achieve as a conservation organisation.

Thereafter, I invite you to comment on the objectives of People and Conservation within the broader objectives of SANParks. Some suggestions for debate may include:
-Should SANParks be involved in education when there is a much larger mandate already filled by the education dept
- why should SANParks be involved in community conservation in communities bordering parks? are they into conservation or social welfare? There are government and non-government organisations already doing that.
- Youth development. Again, is that not the mandate of government through initiatives such as the National Youth Services programme?
- Cultural heritage. Whose heritage? and where does this link with the initiatives of the Ministry of Cultural heritage?

I can list many more but await your constructive debate.

Cheers

Uncle Kev

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 9:44 pm 
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Good to hear from you too. I hope that this will open a much broader angle to that which SANParks does and hopes to achieve. Uncle Kev

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 Post subject: Re: People and Conservation
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 8:31 am 
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Hi and welcome :D
Ok , lets get the ball rolling .

kevin_m wrote:
-Should SANParks be involved in education when there is a much larger mandate already filled by the education dept

Yes , because the education department does precious little to address anything to do with our national parks or conservation , it was like that when I was at school , and is still like that now that my kids are at school.
They are more interested in popular history (And dare I say low level political propaganda) and there take on nature is more of a botanical one , very often on things that are taken from overseas studies .

kevin_m wrote:
- why should SANParks be involved in community conservation in communities bordering parks? are they into conservation or social welfare? There are government and non-government organisations already doing that.

They are probably into social wlfare , but I reckon an ultimate goal would be to turn these community's into conservation nuts , because they have learned about the benefits .
I don't just mean benefits in the form of hand outs , or money in the pocket , but even just the villages looking more beautiful and being more healthy due to conserving of trees in the area instead of utilizing them for firewood , getting rid of the myths like for instance "owls are evil magical birds" and where these birds are killed because of this belief , rather than realising it is a highly beneficial creature in terms of rodent and other pest control .
I think this is a very important area , especially considering that Kruger shares almost 300KM of border fence with the neighboring community's .

kevin_m wrote:
- Youth development. Again, is that not the mandate of government through initiatives such as the National Youth Services programme?

Youth development in terms of conservation and teaching as stated above - yes , but to try further unrelated development is going further than the mandate of SANparks .

kevin_m wrote:
- Cultural heritage. Whose heritage? and where does this link with the initiatives of the Ministry of Cultural heritage?

Difficult one , and I am not sure to be honest , what are peoples cultural beliefs in wildlife - To be honest , everyones cultural history was not that great for wildlife (It was ok when there where a couple of billion people less , and a couple of million more animals )
I reckon a new culture of protecting the wildlife should take precedence over the older cultures like the "great white hunter" or the killing of lions to celebrate manhood , the wearing of leopard skins by village chieftains , the association with certain animals that they are bad creatures (The belief that hyenas carry the spirits of the dead , or as I stated above about owls) etc etc .


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:13 am 
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Thanks for the welcome Dinky Bird, Christo, Meandering Mouse, Bucky, Wild @Heart, Di and Bush Baptist. I look forward to the debates.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 10:33 am 
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Wow! I have an uncle I never knew about! :shock: But welcome Kevin! :lol:

Hmmmm.. 4 topics in 1 topic, that can become a nicely confuzzled topic... So let's answer just 1:
Quote:
-Should SANParks be involved in education when there is a much larger mandate already filled by the education dept

Yep! SANParks has even more reason to be actively involved than the education dept.
Those kids are the neighbours, so if some animals break loose they need to know how to act. To act in the proper way you need to know about the animal and it's habits. And when they do that it's quite possible that the animal is transported or herded back to the Park, instead of killed.
They are also both future clients and staff, so if they have a proper education SANParks benefits. Educated people earn more, one way or another, and can thus visit more often.
And of course when those kids are educated and got a love for the Parks there is less of a chance of them trying to get little bits of the Parks for building purposes etc...

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 10:38 am 
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Dear Bucky

Your reply is thought provoking and I would like to add to it.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
Currently, in excess of 100 000 children receive environmental education courses in our Parks each year. These range from day programmes such as those offered at Skukuza and Letaba to week long courses such as those offered at Geelbek (West Coast Nat Park) and Wilgenhof (Golden Gate Nat Park). Where possible, every endeavour is made to ensure that the programmes are directly linked to the National Curriculum. Some Parks have also run training courses for teachers on EE so that they can spread the message back to the schools. The parks also take EE to the communities which is usually done in conjunction with environmental calendar days/weeks such as Arbour week, wetlands day, marine week etc.

The future existence of protected areas is directly linked to the willingness of the nation to want them. This, I believe is why EE is so important. It is also about caring for the environment in which we live for the ultimate benefit of ourselves. The education dept has a daunting task of educating the youth. However, if networks are created and we all pull together EE is possible. A good example is the Kids in Parks programme which is a partnership between SANParks, Pick N Pay (a major retail store in SA) Dept of Education and the Dept of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. The programme enables children who would otherwise not be able to reach the park, the opportunity to take part in a EE programme in their closest National Park for three days and two nights (all expenses paid)

COMMUNITY CONSERVATION
SANParks has a clear mandate which is to manage national parks and to ensure biodiversity and cultural heritage conservation. SANParks is therefore NOT a social welfare organisation. This means that building clinics, providing access to water and sanitation and so on, is certainly not our responsibility. However, in working with local communities to address issues such as the establishment of Park Forums, environmental education outreach etc opportunities often arrive whereby Parks Staff can facilitate social welfare initiatives. This could for example include putting communities in touch with the relevant government dept or assisting communities to draft a funding proposal to a potential funder. Thus the role is one of facilitation and not implementation but one which can have a lasting positive influence on People-Parks relationships.

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
SANParks has a programme called Imbewu (seed) which enables groups of 8 youth the opportunity to spend three days in Wilderness areas of Parks with Wise Elders. The programme is a partnership between SANParks and the Wilderness Foundation. The Wise Elders are usually retired foresters or game rangers who share their knowledge of the bush and culture with the group. The idea is to "plant a seed (Imbewu)" of environmental consciousness which will be taken back to the community where it will hopefully grow into something much bigger.

CULTURAL HERITAGE
Bucky you have an interesting take on cultural history. Research has shown that there were indeed conservation practises in place in SA long before Yellowstone became the first national park in the world. However it would be naive to think that there was no human impact. (Read up Myth of the Noble savage) The reality is that human population growth has pushed many species into extinction or close to that. The impact of the colonisers with guns totally decimated game populations to the extent that by the time Kruger was proclaimed there was not much left in it. The next phase was one of preservation which would enable species numbers and populations to increase but often at the price of good neighbourly relationships. The current phase is a very challenging one where SANParks as an organisation is compelled to meet its mandate whilst also contributing to the sustainable livelihoods of communities.

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e-mail: kevinm@sanparks.org


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 Post subject: Re: People and Conservation
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 10:59 am 
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Uncle Kev wrote:
My name is Uncle Kev.

It might be good to know for the forumites that the GVI volunteers of 2006 (of which I was the one up in Mapungubwe) generally know him as Auntie Kev. Has something to do with the fact that 'Uncle Kev' knows all. 8)

Also, Uncle Kev is a great source of info about SANParks and P&C in particular. And besides all that he's just a damn nice oom. Great to see him here! Welcome!

Uncle Kev wrote:
[...]where you will be able to learn a bit more about P&C [...]

Click HERE :!:

bucky wrote:
Uncle Kev wrote:
-Should SANParks be involved in education when there is a much larger mandate already filled by the education dept

Yes , because the education department does precious little to address anything to do with our national parks or conservation [...]

Agree. I have worked with many, many, many kids from Limpopo province. Some of them know the Big 5, the pyramid of life and are quite generally clued up, most are not. There is a BIG role & responsibility for SANParks because in each and every school group there are a lot of learners who are very eager to learn more. Some are just happy to learn the difference between a leopard and a cheetah (and a tiger... :wink: ), others want to know how they can pursue a job in the bush.

Uncle Kev wrote:
- Cultural heritage. Whose heritage? and where does this link with the initiatives of the Ministry of Cultural heritage?

The heritage of all South Africans, I think. And I don't think, Bucky, this only has to deal with the relationship with nature. If I may provide one more example from Mapungubwe: the emphasis on the magnificent ancient civilizations that inhabited that area is in my opinion very important. It is a site that needs conservation, if only from a cultural perspective. But there is more: the thousands of new visitors Mapungubwe draws (because of its heritage significance) are all enhancing their understanding of their natural environment at the same time. That goes especially for school kids.

A question for you, Uncle Kev? Does People & Conservation see it as its role to train and equip tourism staff with knowledge that can enhance the experience of themselves and of visitors? Pafuri's own Frank is off course the biggest example how the staff's bush knowledge can add a lot of value. But in my opinion it is also important that the cleaners, cooks, etc in the parks understand their environment. It will benefit themselves, the visitors who talk to them and the communities that they go back to each week. What do you think :?:

Ciao Auntie! :twisted:

JoelR


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 11:28 am 
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Thanks for the compliments Joel.

Your point about Staff education is very important and was raised again two days ago at the GVI review at Marakele by Rudolph.

There is an urgent need to create an environmental ethic amongst all the Staff, which will greatly enhance the Organisation ability to achieve their objectives. People and Conservation is about constituency building. The most important constituency, in my opinion, is the internal constituency of SANParks employees. In my new portfolio of People and Conservation awareness I hope to make an impact in this regards.

Uncle Kev

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 2:51 pm 
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Hallo Kev

What is the situation around in service training with the Universities of Technology and even Universities? When has this last been investigated. Is it still working or must it be changed. What about other Tertiary institutes.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:53 am 
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Uncle Kev wrote:
There is an urgent need to create an environmental ethic amongst all the Staff, which will greatly enhance the Organisation ability to achieve their objectives. People and Conservation is about constituency building. The most important constituency, in my opinion, is the internal constituency of SANParks employees. In my new portfolio of People and Conservation awareness I hope to make an impact in this regards.

Uncle Kev


Now that is great news , it has bothered me greatly at the lack of some camp staff members lack of any interest in the wilderness they work in .
Every single SANparks employee should be a wildlife nut :clap:
I believe basic environmental knowledge should be part of the job of anyone working in a national park , this can only take the parks from strength to strength .

I agree on that JoelR , all our heritage needs to be looked after , I am as big a crazy on natural and cultural history as I am with wildlife (Although I am not as well versed on the history side of things .)


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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:59 am 
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Uncle Kev wrote:
The future existence of protected areas is directly linked to the willingness of the nation to want them. This, I believe is why EE is so important.

The current phase is a very challenging one where SANParks as an organisation is compelled to meet its mandate whilst also contributing to the sustainable livelihoods of communities.


100% agree on that , and something I have echoed before in many posts .

On your second statement , one would hope that in time communities will also make this relationship work both ways , I find that at this point a lot of them expect something in return for nothing , as if the parks they live next to owe them something .
Once the relationship gets to the stage where these communities feel that they owe something to the parks also then there will be nothing stopping this relationships success .


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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:40 am 
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Hi Kaaskop

Yes, in service training is still Strong within SANParks. We currently have about 60 conservation students and 20 tourism students doing their experiential training in the Parks. We also have 179 THETA sponsored learnerships in the Parks in tourism related functions. There are also a number of internships such as the Junior Scientist programme in Kruger which is sponsored by the Mellon Foundation

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:53 pm 
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Uncle Kev wrote:
There is an urgent need to create an environmental ethic amongst all the Staff, which will greatly enhance the Organisation ability to achieve their objectives.
Excellent Uncle Kev :clap: :clap: I hope this extends to outsourced activities like shop staff. That will hopefully mean more respect and less speeding.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:00 pm 
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Good idea Bush Baptist. I had not thought of them. It would also be worthwhile to look at the Poverty relief programmes which employs thousands of people.

Uncle Kev

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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:09 pm 
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Dear uncle Kev,

you have, in my mind, started something special.
Do you think it is possible to start specific posts on each of your major topics?

I do think that there is mega potential here. Bucky got the ball rolling, but we need a massive baseball bat to just whack though:wink:

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