School children having the experience of a lifetime in a camp full of learning and fun in the bush.
Communities starting to use water more efficiently or planting a food garden. Elders reviving indigenous knowledge about the medicinal use of fynbos.
These are just a few exciting examples of the unique and rewarding work of the People and Conservation specialists of SANParks. Find out more about their community and educational work or have a look at some great projects.
The natural and cultural heritage of the parks should be the pride and joy of everyone. The People and Conservation division creates the crucial connection between the daily work of rangers and the South African people. Talking to people is a core business for SANParks - nowadays just as important as tourism and conservation.
People and Conservation enlarges understanding, support and participation – particularly amongst neighbouring communities and young people. National parks have a bright future in South Africa if they manage to bring local benefits to the people living around the parks, and if they can inspire the youth of today to be the ambitious conservationists of tomorrow.
So what is the mission of the People and Conservation specialists?
Explaining to neighbouring communities what the parks are doing and why is very important and has been neglected in the past. By promoting conservation, improving park access, assisting with environmental initiatives and inviting local people to discuss and cooperate in future policies – the parks are taking up a responsible role in society. Thanks to this people are starting to see their SANParks neighbour as a benefit – and not a burden.
There is no better classroom for conservation lessons than a national park. Every year hundreds of schools visit the parks. Many children see, hear and smell the wonders of nature for the first time and learn a lot in the process. What does an elephant eat? Why is a snake important too? Why should we not litter? From day programmes, to the celebrated Kids in Parks camp to special calendar events: environmental education opens young people’s eyes.
National parks are often hotspots of cultural heritage and play a major role in reviving indigenous knowledge and oral history. Cultural sites draw tourism, but can also enhance SANParks relationship with communities outside the parks. Rock art, Iron Age sites, traditional sacred grounds or an old colonial building: conservation and management of cultural heritage is an equal counterpart of nature conservation.