On 1 August 2003 President Sam Nujoma of Namibia and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa signed an international treaty establishing the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park in Windhoek, Namibia.
Extensive community consultations were conducted beforehand, as the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld National Park in South Africa is owned by the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld community and managed on a contractual basis with South African National Parks (SANParks). This allows the full participation of the local community through elected members representing the four towns in the area, Kuboes, Sanddrift, Lekkersing and Eksteenfontein, and also of local pastoralists. These communities would all benefit from increased tourism to the area, while at the same time conserving its unique biodiversity. In addition, a transfrontier park would help maintain the cultural heritage and traditional lifestyle of the Nama people.
Various bilateral committees, as well as national working groups on community development, planning and management, security and customs, and finance were constituted to formalise the establishment of the transfrontier park. The signing of the international treaty effectively transformed the bilateral technical committee into a joint management board and the working groups into management committees.
A comprehensive consultative process was initiated in June 2002 and drafts of the treaty, as well as integrated tourism and management plans were discussed over the ensuing months. To assist in the process, Peace Parks Foundation has funded workshops, as well as the appointment of an international coordinator and a community liaison officer. The Foundation’s GIS laboratory also assisted in the drafting of land-use and tourism plans.