Major Environmental Projects Launched

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), in collaboration with the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has launched the People amp Parks and Wildlife Economy projects worth over R256 million in Arconhoek, Mpumalanga.

It is anticipated that more than 2 200 jobs will be created through the People amp Parks and Wild Life Economy projects to be implemented in Mpumalanga province alone.

“These projects will not only provide work opportunities but will also create the necessary infrastructure in the protected areas as well as encourage greener environmental management practices.

“The projects will lead to, among other things, construction and upgrading of accommodation units for staff and visitors, administration management buildings, ablution facilities, safari tented camps and erection of perimeter fence,” said MEC for Agriculture Land Administration and Environmental Affairs Andries Gamede, who delivered a keynote address on behalf of Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson.

The People amp Parks Programme is one of the DEA’s initiatives, which aims to address issues at the interface between conservation and communities, particularly with regards to the realisation of tangible economic and social benefits by communities who were previously displaced to pave way for the establishment of protected areas.

The programme encourages communities to take leadership roles in the management and benefits of South Africa’s biodiversity conservation, particularly in the protected areas.

It is through the People amp Parks Programme that the DEA launched the National Co-Management Framework in September 2010, which is in accordance to the provisions of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act No. 57 of 2003).

The framework provides a coherent national guideline for the co-management of protected areas restored in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act, 1994 (Act No. 22 of 1994). It also aims to guide conservation agencies and successful restitution claimants in the development of co-management agreements for protected areas structuring benefit packages.

On the other hand, the Wildlife Economy Programme fosters community participation to a sustainable beneficiation of wildlife.

Communities and nature reserves that stand to benefit directly from these projects include Andover Laskop Dam Barbarton Mahushe Shongwe Mawewe Mdala-Mkhombo Mthethomusha Songimvelo Nooitgedacht Dam Manyeleti and Bushbuckridge.

The People amp Parks and Wildlife Economy projects are implemented through the DEA’s Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP), which funds the implementation of various projects aimed at protecting integrity of the environment in South Africa. The programme has grown from a budget of R28 million in 19992000 financial year to a current budget of just less than R900 million.

Over and above the Wildlife Economy and People amp Parks projects that have been funded, the Mpumalanga Province has benefited with projects approved with a funding commitment over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework in almost all the EPIP focus areas. This has taken the total commitment for funding by the department in the province to the value of over R345.5 million. –

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