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Media Release: SANParks CEO opens World Protected Areas Leadership Forum

16 August 2010

Opening the World Protected Areas Leadership Forum (WPALF) this morning at Skukuza Rest Camp, in the Kruger National Park, the Chief Executive of South African National Parks (SANParks), Dr David Mabunda said the hosting of a forum such as WPALF could not have come at a better time for Protected Areas world-wide, particularly as governments are at this stage wrestling with the effects of the recent economic recession.

The forum aims to provide an opportunity for leading heads of parks and protected area agencies to discuss issues of mutual interest, identify emerging issues and share information, as well as to discuss the forward agenda for parks and protected areas in the context of the global conservation agenda. “As protected areas or national parks we need to gather thoughts on how can we reduce a reliance on government appropriations by diversifying the revenue streams”, said Dr Mabunda.

He said as conservation agencies in different countries, we each have an interest in the global conservation agenda and coming together at a platform such as this will provide us with an opportunity to pave a united way forward for parks and protected areas within this global context.

The challenge at this stage facing the Protected Areas is to inspire innovation, improve existing and new offerings that could instill interest from the markets “and a forum such this will enhance our understanding of the various methods and experiences by our counterparts elsewhere in the world.

Delegates from Kenya, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are participating in the forum along with the Executive Management of SANParks and various departmental heads encompassing the key components of SANParks business and mandate.

Dr Mabunda said the value of conservation has to be understood by all including the various governments. In the SADC region good progress has been made in the implementation of partnerships between governments and private sector through the formation of Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA).

He said time has come to establish large conservation and wildlife areas not only through development of cross-border tourism linkages, but also by ensuring sustainable benefits for local communities through socio-economic upliftment, and the promotion of peace and stability.

Speaking at the same meeting, the chairperson of the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), Nik Lopoukhine, said while most governments now recognise the fundamental value of conservation of biodiversity there are many threats that compromise biodiversity in Protected Areas. “These include extractive use of natural resources such as mining or construction of highways in areas adjacent to the Protected Areas.”

The first day of the conference was dominated by a presentation by SANParks on issues ranging from land claims, tourism management, large mammal management, strategic adaptive management to issues related to Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs). The international presentations were an offering from the IUCN on the International Year of Biodiversity as well as a look from Finland on the prioritization of spatial planning in the development and management of protected areas.

The World Protected Areas Leadership Forum is scheduled from 16 to 19 August 2010.

Issued by:

SANParks Corporate Communications on behalf of the Office of the Chief Executive

Media Enquiries:

wanda mkutshulwa – Head of Communications, Tel: (012) 426 5201, Mobile: 082 908 2692, e-mail:

Reynold “Rey” Thakhuli – GM: Media & Stakeholder Relations, Tel: (012) 426 5203, Mobile: 073 373 4999,