Dr. Joubert's answer to Dr. Mabunda's Speech - Thu Jan 12th

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Dr. Joubert's answer to Dr. Mabunda's Speech - Thu Jan 12th

Post by Lisbeth » Mon May 21, 2012 1:36 pm

Dr. Salomon Joubert's answer to Dr. Mabundas Speech in occasion of the Kudu Awards ceremony.
RESPONSE TO SPEECH DELIVERED BY Dr DAVID MABUNDA ON THE OCCASION OF THE
KUDU AWARDS CEREMONY, 28 NOVEMBER 2011

Introduction
After initially learning of the intention of SANParks to establish an upmarket hotel at Malelane in the Kruger National Park towards the end of 2009, and a few months subsequently of a second hotel at Skukuza, four requests for an audience with either Dr Mabunda, CEO of SANParks, or his head of tourism, Mr Glenn Phillips, to discuss the developments, came to naught. Similarly, three requests that SANParks open the intention of establishing the proposed hotels to an open public debate were flatly ignored.
The requests to open the hotel issue to public debate were made due to the apparent lack of public awareness regarding the proposed developments, i.e. to bring the process in line with the principles underpinning the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).
After engaging SANParks for a year on this issue and without receiving any willingness for either a private meeting or involving the public an article was submitted to The Star and Beeld newspapers in March 2010 to create awareness amongst the public. This has resulted in a rather disjointed form of debate but at least gives the opportunity of sharing viewpoints.
This current document, drafted in response to a speech presented by Dr David Mabunda, CEO of SANParks, on the occasion of SANParks’ annual Kudu Awards evening (see Attachment after Appendix 1) is a contribution towards that debate.
2. Legal considerations
Constitution
Dr Mabunda professes that the new vision of SANParks, to connect to society, is based on the RSA Constitution and quotes the following: “Section 24 (a)-(b) (ii) and (iii) says: ‘Everyone has a right to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that (ii) promote conservation; and (iii) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development’.”
Dr Mabunda highlights two conclusions drawn from this quote, i.e.
• In executing its mandate the government is expected to benefit present and future generations through appropriate legislation, embracing practises and processes, and
• It is expected of government to promote conservation and ecologically sustainable development and resource use.
From the above, Dr Mabunda concludes that “there is nowhere in the Constitution that says there shall be no development done in national parks or that there are certain groups or individuals who are not allowed to benefit from the existence of protected areas including national parks.”
I believe that Dr Mabunda has misinterpreted and misrepresented the essence of the clauses quoted from the Constitution and that they are, therefore, unfounded and misleading.
The Constitution essentially endorses the wise counselling of old Chief Seattle when he cautioned that ‘we have not inherited this land from our fathers, we are merely borrowing it from our children’ (slightly rephrased from the longer original version). The Constitution refers to our environment and the necessity to conserve it with the aim of retaining its vigour and viability while utilizing its renewable resources in a sustainable manner to serve the social and economic needs of the people of South Africa.
This approach is, and should be, unreservedly and enthusiastically supported by all rational and patriotic South Africans.
The Constitution does not, as Dr Mabunda would like to infer, address the management of national parks, or even nature conservation in its broader context. It specifically refers to environmental conservation, which implies the wise use of natural resources. Furthermore, for Dr Mabunda to even put forward an argument that the Constitution does not exclude certain groups or individuals from enjoying the benefits of national parks is difficult to follow. Who has suggested or implied such a view point? Certainly not any of the parties opposing the hotel developments.
It is therefore uncalled for that SANParks seeks justification for deviations from the very acts of which it should be the undisputed champion, i.e. the Protected Areas Act and the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), by hauling in the Constitution in a potentially misleading manner.
National parks: “hubs of economic development”
Dr Mabunda quotes the Minister of Environmental Affairs as stating that our national parks are “hubs of economic development in our society”. If the inference is that national parks are intended to be hubs of economic development the legality of the statement needs to be seriously challenged.
An earlier (1969) definition of a national park by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the current guidelines for Category II National Parks are appended as Appendix 1. Essentially, these definitions make provision for areas set aside to preserve natural ecosystems in their most pristine state possible and where visitors are allowed to appreciate nature for its spiritual, educative and recreational values.
The definitions, old and new, do not exclude tourism; neither do they dismiss the economic value of tourism. Both can be accommodated in national parks, but subject to the core value of preserving biodiversity (which includes wilderness) in its most pristine state possible.
South Africa is fortunate in having some 22 national parks. However, by definition probably only two of our national parks, i.e. Kruger and Kgalagadi, qualify as Category II national parks.
In this IUCN definition of a Category II national park the emphasis is clearly focused on the values of unspoilt nature, specifically including its wilderness qualities.

The definition does not exclude tourism; neither does it dismiss the economic value of tourism. Both have a place in national parks, but subject to the core value of preserving biodiversity in its most pristine state possible.

In terms of the original National Parks Act, as amended, and more recently (2006) incorporated under Clause 20, Section 2 of the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act 57 SANParks is charged to manage national parks subject to the following conditions:
(2) “A declaration under subsection (1)(a) may only be issued to –

(a) protect –
(i) the area if the area is of national or international biodiversity importance or is or contains a viable, representative sample of South Africa’s natural systems, scenic areas or cultural heritage sites; or
(ii) the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems in the area;

(b) prevent exploitation or occupation inconsistent with the protection of the ecological integrity of the area;
(c) provide spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and tourism opportunities which are environmentally compatible; and
(d) contribute to economic development, where feasible.”

The prescriptions of the South African definition of a national park comply very closely with those of the IUCN. They, too, place the focus on the preservation of intact, pristine ecosystems (biodiversity), the values which national parks need to offer tourists (spiritual, educational, scientific, cultural, recreational) and accept that national parks may contribute to the economy, where feasible.

If SANParks, in fact, now regard national parks as hubs of economic development it would reflect a clear deviation from the core interests and values of national parks. It is a development that is in contravention of the IUCN understanding of a national park and of our own Protected Areas Act. It is, therefore, invalid and unlawful. Neither has this deviation from the legally defined course been opened to any form of public debate, which also brings it in contravention of the National Environmental Management Act.
Development versus over-development
Dr Mabunda commented that “in recent months we travelled to the United States of America and Canada to visit a few of their national parks and learnt to our consternation how limited and archaic our views of visitor management are. This visit showed us how other countries have gone out to embrace the challenges from virtual experiences, to solitary camping in the wild to the ultra-luxurious accommodation in posh hotel establishments. Of course all this did not come without its attendant challenges, which was one of the valuable lessons we learnt from the visit.”

Any attempt by SANParks to persevere with the two hotels proposed for the Kruger National Park will throw considerable doubt on the final sentence in the paragraph above and question whether any lessons were learnt.

Two publications of particular relevance recently appeared. One was National parks should stay natural and was published in the The Star (19.10.2011) and Cape Times (25.10.2011) newspapers. The author was Leon Marshall, an environmental journalist who accompanied the SANParks team to North America. Marshall’s assessment of the exposure they enjoyed was that “… the most enduring impression was that much about the developments in and around the American and Canadian parks was a good example of how not to do it in South Africa.” Marshall quotes, amongst others, the example of the impact of the multi-storey hotel on the shores of Lake Louise: “easily one of the parks – and the world’s – most beautiful scenic spots, its natural serenity forever destroyed.”

Marshall ends his article with arguments clearly gleaned from the SANParks team: they will not over-develop; the environmentally friendly low-rise hotels, which probably should not even have been referred to as hotels, but will be more appealing to prospective black visitors; shuttle services; guided bus tours; etc.

The other, a 2005 publication, by H Locke, Senior Advisor Conservation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, entitled: Banff National Park: lessons learnt from the tourism in the world’s third oldest national park. In the article the following are highlighted:
• Banff as a conservation area was started by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) due to the perceived commercial value of its exquisite natural beauty; it was later taken over by Parks Canada;
• Commercial interests, accompanied by unlimited development which included two multi-storey hotels and even the establishment of a town and private housing development to service the tourism industry, were a primary driving force;
• Tourism developments included a variety of nature-based experiences, such as mountain trails, horse riding, scenic drives, etc.
• The 1970’s/80’s were noted for the “massive Mission 66 program of development in USA national parks.”
• These developments led to resistance and “public interest groups campaigned to stop the development and litigation was used as a tool. Outrage was expressed across the country as Banff is a much loved national icon… Banff had become so over-developed that the park’s ecological integrity was compromised and that some development had to be removed or it may no longer remain viable as a national park.”
• The government responded to the sensitivities of the public by appointing a body to evaluate the impacts of developments, initially in Banff but later extended to all national parks.
• Several developments had to be reversed to restore ecological processes and “… led to an amendment to the Canada National Parks Acts to make ecological integrity the first consideration in park management …”

From the experiences gained in the Canadian national parks Locke (2005) offered, amongst others, the following advice for development of national parks in Africa:
• “National parks should be left as wilderness.
• Visitors inside the park should be serviced in temporary facilities like tent camps and in permanent facilities outside the parks.
• If you must have development inside a park due to historic reasons or political pressures (as is the case in Banff), do not put any facilities in vital habitat, especially bottleneck areas.
• Keep public ownership of facilities inside parks to avoid the pressure for continuing development from entrepreneurs seeking to maximise their investments or expand.
• Do not allow inappropriate uses like shopping facilities that provide goods unrelated to park values or local cultures.”

Had the South African Railways, who first initiated tourism to the Sabie Game Reserve (predecessor of the KNP) in 1923 had any say in the development of the KNP, its history could easily have followed a similar course to that of Banff. Fortunately, however, the National Parks Board, and with it the KNP, was instituted in 1926 and it had a very different approach towards development. Hotels and extravagant facilities were shunned from the beginning. Accommodation facilities – with basic essentials only - were provided to afford tourists the opportunity of visiting the park. This later developed into the philosophy that facilities should never be used as attractions to national parks and that the primary objective would remain the experience of nature in her most unspoilt state possible.

The route followed in developing South Africa’s national parks has followed the mandate given to the National Parks Board and has obviously served their core interests well. That mistakes have been made and that the KNP would have been better off had the recommendations of the Hoek Commission (1953) been followed, cannot be argued. Essentially, the Hoek Commission made provision for the development of large rest camps on, but outside, the Kruger Park boundary and only small, rustic camps within the park. Suffice to say that various factors, beyond the means and control of the Board, played a role in thwarting the implementation of these recommendations.

With the extensive additions to tourist facilities in the 1980’s the first rumblings of public resistance to “over-commercialisation” surfaced. Visitors then, and now, clearly yearned for the qualities of unfettered and untrammelled wilderness experiences and strongly rejected even conferences and other “events”.

SANParks have erected a large conference centre seating over 300 persons in the Skukuza Rest Camp and propose to build two upmarket hotels in the Kruger Park, one close to Malelane and the other at Skukuza. These developments are considered flawed and undesirable on the following grounds :
• They are in the most over-crowded and over-developed areas of the Park;
• Dr Mabunda has acknowledged in the public media that stakeholders were deliberately excluded from public debate on the hotel issue;
• The developments are being pursued in spite of an average 90% rejection of conferences or other “events” in seven attitude surveys conducted across the board of Kruger Park visitors by the University of the North West between 2006 and 2010 (Kruger, et.al. 2009/10);
• A similar response (90%) expressed a strong preference in favour of more rustic, close-to-nature facilities (Anon 2008).

Dr Mabunda has tried to assure South Africans that SANParks will not over-develop the national parks. However, the proposed developments fly in the face of these reassurances. Further doubt on these assertions were cast by Mr Glenn Phillips, head of tourism for SANParks, at a Focus Group meeting (Smit, perscomm) in which he stated that there were six more hotels in the pipeline for the Kruger Park. This is contrary to the assurance given by Dr Mabunda that there will not be more than the current two hotels as “it would erode the attractiveness of the product” if more were to be built. So what are South Africans, the rightful stakeholders of our national parks, to make of this? SANParks have, furthermore, failed to provide any indication or definition of what would constitute “over-development”.

Considerable dissatisfaction with the developments and how SANParks manages them are not new. In 2002, after seven concessions were awarded to private entrepreneurs in the KNP, the Xwe African Wild life Investigation and Research Centre expressed itself as follows:

“Furthermore, there are no effective legal guarantees to safeguard our National Parks from over-development nor ensuring compliance to the vague promises that the SANP (SANParks) have made concerning new developments. It is hugely worrying that there is currently no defined scope (what developments and activities are suitable/unsuitable) nor set limits (how much is acceptable) to the commercialisation programme. In fact, indications are that the current developments will only be the beginning of a much larger programme.”
The Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA) also expressed the concern “that the current modus operandi sets a potentially undesirable precedent for the future management of South Africa’s national parks whereby SANParks operate without any significant consultation or accountability” (WESSA 2002).
At the same time WESSA (2002) also requested a “commitment from SANParks that all future policies, programmes and/or projects that in any way significantly impact on the way on which SANParks executes its mandate to manage the parks on behalf of the people of SA, be accompanied by a transparent and consultative process.”
It appears that SANParks have not, even in the least, taken any notice or regard of these pleas from the ranks of their committed and loyal stakeholders. For the wider public and individuals concerned with conservation issues two obvious questions arise:
I. When Dr Mabunda gives the assurance that SANParks will not over-develop our national parks, and will strictly adhere to the international standards applied to such matters, what is he talking about?
II. How does SANParks define over-development and if they are so adamant in their assurances to pacify their stakeholders why don’t they even respond to requests for an explanation when requested to do so?
The apparent gap between promises made and actual practice implemented by SANParks creates mistrust and suspicion in the public, especially when combined with a tendency to discredit critics who have legitimate concerns.
In April 2010 Dr Mabunda stated that development in the KNP comprised slightly under 6%. During the same year this figure was reduced to 0.3% and in his speech at the Kudu awards ceremony he claimed that the total development footprint for all national parks was a trivial 0.17%. Dr Freek Venter, head of Wildlife Management for the KNP, estimates the area affected by the two proposed hotels at 1 – 3% of the KNP.
Dr Mabunda seems to strengthen his arguments in favour of hotels by presenting a definition of “development footprint” that strictly reflects areas that have been seriously disturbed, in fact where nature has been destroyed in favour of development. By taking the physical measurements (length and breadth) of such developments, i.e. the breadth and length of roads (say, 15m x 100km) and rest camps, calculating the hectarage and then dividing the results into the total hectarage of national parks a simple equation yields, in his opinion, the “development footprint”. However, this tends to create a false picture: “Environmental impact” explicitly also has to take into account visual and audio (noise) impacts. By over-simplifying and underplaying these factors by limiting their impact to within 100m on either side of the roads and the peripheries of rest camps and similar developments a vastly different picture will be emerge!
There is a large segment of avid KNP enthusiasts who share the opinion that by developing large rest camps in the centre of the park, together with paved roads and large air-conditioned tourist buses, much of the wilderness ambience has already been forfeited. Many of these supporters are starting to avoid the over-developed southern areas and SANParks will be well advised to consider this trend in their six-monthly attitude surveys.
SANParks visitor profiles
Dr Christian Ruck, a senior member of the German parliament and intimately involved in channelling substantial sums of much needed funding into nature conservation in Africa, obtained his Ph D on a study of transfrontier nature conservation projects in the early 1990’s. From personal contact with Dr Ruck, it transpired that the percentage of local (resident) visitors to national parks in Southern and East Africa was no more than 0.8%. From personal experience and the views of several other visitors to these venues this figure, even currently, appears to be perfectly plausible.
The number of black South Africans visiting our national parks was reportedly 4% in 1994. Figures presented by Dr Mabunda and Mr Glenn Phillips have oscillated (as in the case of the “development footprint”) between 22% and 29% over the past 18 months but currently seem to stabilise at 26%. At 26% this is an increase of well over 600% - a remarkable achievement that should be applauded. Furthermore, it endorses the results of two surveys conducted specifically amongst Black Diamonds by TNS Research Surveys (2008). The major conclusion drawn from the TNS surveys was that “those who have visited national parks have very favourable perceptions of the parks overall. National parks as a destination appear to be delivering. The challenge remains to draw Black Diamonds to the parks” (my emphasis).
Nowhere in the University of the North West or TNS surveys is there any indication of a preference for upmarket hotels in national parks, by either Black Diamonds or any other visitors. Hotels did not even feature in the surveys. Requests to Mr Glenn Phillips to indicate the page number or relevant subsection referring to such a preference in either the University of the North West or TNS survey reports of which the author has copies, have been ignored.
The statement by Dr Mabunda (The Star, 11 March 2011)that “further polls by TNS Research Surveys on ‘holiday habits’ showed that black people were not coming in big numbers to the parks because of historical reasons of deliberate exclusion and that they were not too impressed with the tourism product offered as it did not talk to them, but to those who understood the ‘guardian spirit’ of Jan Smuts and the ‘all-pervasive wilderness ambience’ of James Stevenson-Hamilton” is absolutely false. There is no indication of any such attitude in any of the reports and we would like to challenge Dr. Mabunda to produce the relevant evidence.
5. SANParks finances
In his speech Dr Mabunda stated that it costs “R1, 4 billion to run the affairs of SANParks and this figure is growing annually.” In the 2009/10 financial year the State’s annual subsidy towards the operational costs of SANParks was R160 million (roughly 11.5% of the R1.4 billion). The following are of particular importance in understanding the current financial position of SANParks:

• The State is, or is threatening to withdraw its annual subsidy towards the operational costs. This was initially offered as the most urgent motivation for the proposed hotels.
• According to Dr Mabunda’s calculations he will require a further R500 million (excluding inflation) within the next 3-5 years to keep his organisation afloat;
• The annual contribution of the KNP towards the South African economy is in excess of R2 billion.

Approximately 15-20% of the visitors to our national parks are foreigners who therefore contribute roughly R200 million towards the running of our national parks. The State currently still pays an approximate R200 million, and the rest - R1 billion - is generated from direct payments to SANParks by local visitors. SANParks therefore scores R1.2 billion (direct payments plus income tax) annually from its South African stakeholder support base. (Note: there may be other sources of income for SANParks such as timber, hunting etc.; received from special projects and donations alone in 2011: R305m, see annual report further below; surplus raised by over R50m to R562m)

As a member of the public and a concerned conservationist, one needs to ask:
• How does SANParks intend generating the expected shortfall of R500 million (plus inflation) over the next 3-5 years?
• Is the State going to be left unchallenged for abrogating on its financial support responsibility - if the threat of cuts to the annual grant are serious?
• What damage will be done to our national parks as a result of commercial exploitation?

These are all seriously disturbing concerns!

Politics
In his speech, Dr Mabunda suggested that “we should become a national institution that represents the love and commitment of all South Africans for their living heritage, as opposed to the love and commitment of a by-gone era purist ideology. The idea of a ‘safari in Africa’ is an idea whose time has passed for it was crafted with the vision of a continent that is filled with exotic animals and what was then regarded as a sub-human species whose only existence was for the assistance of the supposedly civilized European visitors to navigate the ‘dark continent’. We were never consulted in its crafting and neither were we considered. Today we should help South Africans celebrate the best of themselves, their places, wildlife, stories and experiences that make us who we are.”

What/who is Dr Mabunda trying to get at by referring to the ‘by-gone era purist ideology’ and who crafted the idea of a “safari in Africa” with exotic animals? If anything, many of the early European explorers came to Africa and plundered its wilderness and wildlife to the point where people with vision who had settled here to build a future had to set areas aside to protect and preserve their wilderness qualities. Appreciation of the wilderness ambience and a respect for ecological integrity was initiated and developed by those who accepted this as their country of birth and have as much claim to South Africa as any other of its citizens.

It is true that South Africa has had a history of separate development (“apartheid”), it is also regrettably true that the policy denied many of its citizens their rights, privileges and freedoms and left scars that will take time and care to heal. Fortunately, under the leadership and statesmanship of the first post-apartheid President, Nelson Mandela, the struggle for rights and freedom was concluded, differences resolved and a united effort towards healing and nation-building initiated. It is incumbent on all loyal and true South Africans to now look forward and contribute towards a united rainbow nation. We need not forget our history but neither should we use it to stifle progress or incite racial disharmony. Dr Mabunda’s continuous harping on the ills of the past is making no contribution towards a better future for all.

The statement above is not only based on Dr Mabunda’s derogatory remarks aimed at early European colonialists but also his continuous rhetoric about the ‘antiquated’ purists who got stranded somewhere in the dark ages of a bygone millennium. To the point: his unfounded and uncalled for rhetoric is offensive and most unbecoming of a senior public servant.

There are a number of other inaccurate and potentially misleading claims made in the KUDU Awards speech, which we would like to raise:

“Unfortunately environmental matters in the new South Africa are still steeped in the context of the previous racial stratification. Through a well-crafted apartheid system … succeeded in alienating Black people from enjoying access and benefits accruing from the country’s natural capital, including wildlife viewing. This exclusion by design, of the majority of our population has bred a deep-seated resentment and bitterness towards national parks and conservation in general and it will take another ‘long walk to freedom’ to normalise the situation in future. National parks were and still are perceived as a playground for the elite and changing this negative public image is like climbing a greasy pole on a hot summer day.”

By increasing the number of previously disadvantaged visitors to national parks by more than 600% over the past two decades SANParks has achieved very considerable success. The fact that these ‘new’ visitors were favourably impressed with what they found, is hugely encouraging. All SANParks would now have to do is increase its awareness campaign, without the necessity to build expensive upmarket hotels! SANParks’ record in this respect is probably better than elsewhere in Africa and possibly even in the USA and these initiatives certainly do not require upmarket hotels.

Again Dr Mabunda: “public proprietorship or support for national parks in South Africa remain skewed in favour of those who enjoyed them previously. People living in townships and rural areas are still excluded (by financial means and attitudes) and attempts to bring these folks on board continue to be opposed by the same anti-transformation lobby.” Upmarket hotels in the KNP, or anywhere else, are certainly not going to help any of the folks referred to here. Decent jobs and a growing economy may be better options.

What is of concern in the paragraph above, is the reference to “the same anti-transformation lobby”. To who is Dr Mabunda referring: whites (the ‘ecological elites’; the group belonging to an ‘antiquated school of thought’; the ‘minority of mostly privileged sections of our society’), the SANParks stakeholders who contribute more than R1 billion towards the upkeep of our national parks? We reject with contempt what appears to be an attempt to paint critics of the hotel development who have concrete conservation issues with a ‘racist’ brush.

Even worse is Mabunda’s reference to an “anti-transformation lobby” who “continue to be opposed” to bringing previously disadvantaged folks aboard, or his remark that : “it will be an unforgivable mistake if we were to accept the sickening tendency by a handful of ‘old-school’ conservationists appointing themselves as agents of positive societal change. They continue to campaign for the retention of past policies and privileges as they were over the last 100 years.” Surely he cannot be referring to the vast majority of proudly South African “whites” who have embraced the new South Africa as loyal and committed citizens and honour our national parks as their pride and joy! The same 90% of the respondents in the repeated SANParks attitude surveys who have pleaded for the preservation of the unfettered biodiversity, including their wilderness ambience, of our national parks? Can Dr Mabunda please explain, or are these caustic outbursts purely for political expedience?

The value of national parks
The irony of the time we live in, with its multitude of daunting challenges, increasing hustle and bustle and squalors related to ever-increasing urban environments, is that there are values that become more cherished as the pressures and threats mount. The need for wilderness, for unspoilt ecosystems, with their full complement of biodiversity, and for the quality of the serenity, tranquillity and spiritual enrichment they offer, are some of these values. On the flip side: if such values cannot be appreciated, prioritised and protected from abuse they can so easily be irreparably damaged and lost forever.

The qualities of wilderness experiences can be enjoyed at different levels, and can be enjoyed in different situations by varying numbers of people. SANParks’ approach to ‘connect with society’ is a noble approach and is fully supported. However, the core values of wilderness and biodiversity should be clearly understood with the acceptance that the qualities of those values are not infinite. It is incumbent on SANParks by virtue of the mandate enshrined in the Protected Areas Act, and in keeping with the IUCN guidelines, to preserve the wilderness ambience of its national parks as integral components of biodiversity.

Nature conservation is a broad term and encompasses a continuum that includes zoological and botanical gardens, local and provincial reserves and private wildlife enterprises from individually owned properties to large integrated conservancies. At all these different tiers there are a multitude of nature-based adventures and experiences and social function opportunities (conferences, weddings and various miscellaneous events) with options from rustic to highly sophisticated facilities.

National parks form the pinnacle of the nature conservation tiers, the prime benchmarks of South Africa’s biodiversity. They are different, in approach and objectives, to any of the other nature conservation interests. They can rightfully claim to be the pride and joy of all South Africans. SANParks owes it to the people of South Africa to preserve the intrinsic values of our national parks in their unblemished state for the benefit of this and future generations.

Boyle (date unknown), in The paradox of National Parks, expressed it very succinctly as follows: “the spirit and force behind the National Park idea has, in all countries, been the demand for the preservation of nature; so that something shall remain as it used to be, unspoilt by the advance of civilisation. There has, of course, also been a demand for places of recreation, but that quite different demand can be satisfied in quite a different way, by the development of holiday resorts of many different kinds. …. there is in humanity a very deep-seated love of wild nature, which National Parks must satisfy, or else degenerate to become merely ‘playgrounds’ for the people”.

Finally, at a time that we have been made acutely aware of the threats to our Planet Earth and the necessity to combat climate change our politicians have been prominent in their attempts to convince the world of our commitment to do all in our means to combat the problem. This is encouraging and should be supported to the full.

One outstanding opportunity that South Africa has in making a meaningful contribution to the evaluation, monitoring and interpretation of climate change and its impacts on the environment is offered by our national parks. This not only enhances the importance of unspoilt, near-pristine ecosystems but also the responsibility of ensuring that they remain that way.

Finally, let us learn from the first and most revered Park Warden of the KNP, Col J Stevenson-Hamilton (1993) in referring to the KNP: “Might her success, and the gifts increasingly showered upon her, not at last permanently affect her character and transform her into a dame so bedecked by human art that her natural loveliness would be hidden and her simple nature spoilt. Might those holding her future in their hands, realise the true nature of their trust, and not, by estimating her worth at artificial values only, cause her to languish and ultimately perhaps to perish. Absit omen”


Dr SCJ Joubert
10 December 2011



Appendix 1: IUCN definitions of a national park
In 1969 the IUCN defined a national park “as a relatively large area
1. where one or several ecosystems are not materially altered by human exploitation and occupation, where plant and animal species, geomorphological sites and habitats are of special scientific, educative and recreative interest or which contains a natural landscape of great beauty and

2. where the highest competent authority of the country has taken steps to prevent or to eliminate as soon as possible exploitation or occupation in the whole area and to enforce effectively the respect of ecological, geomorphological or aesthetic features which have led to its establishment and

3. where visitors are allowed to enter, under special conditions, for inspirational, educative, cultural and recreative purposes.”

This definition was later updated to its currently accepted form and reads:

“Category II National Park
Category II protected areas are large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.
Primary objective
To protect natural biodiversity along with its underlying ecological structure and supporting environmental processes, and to promote education and recreation.
Other objectives:
• To manage the area in order to perpetuate, in as natural a state as possible, representative examples of physiographic regions, biotic communities, genetic resources and unimpaired natural processes;
• To maintain viable and ecologically functional populations and assemblages of native species at densities sufficient to conserve ecosystem integrity and resilience in the long term;
• To contribute in particular to conservation of wide-ranging species, regional ecological processes and migration routes;
• To manage visitor use for inspirational, educational, cultural and recreational purposes at a level which will not cause significant biological or ecological degradation to the natural resources;
• To take into account the needs of indigenous people and local communities, including subsistence resource use, in so far as these will not adversely affect the primary management objective;
• To contribute to local economies through tourism.
Distinguishing features
Category II areas are typically large and conserve a functioning “ecosystem”, although to be able to achieve this, the protected area may need to be complemented by sympathetic management in surrounding areas.
• The area should contain representative examples of major natural regions, and biological and environmental features or scenery, where native plant and animal species, habitats and geodiversity sites are of special spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational or tourist significance.
• The area should be of sufficient size and ecological quality so as to maintain ecological functions and processes that will allow the native species and communities to persist for the long term with minimal management intervention.
• The composition, structure and function of biodiversity should be to a great degree in a “natural” state or have the potential to be restored to such a state, with relatively low risk of successful invasions by non-native species.
Role in the landscape/seascape
Category II provides large-scale conservation opportunities where natural ecological processes can continue in perpetuity, allowing space for continuing evolution. They are often key stepping-stones for designing and developing large-scale biological corridors or other connectivity conservation initiatives required for those species (wide-ranging and/or migratory) that cannot be conserved entirely within a single protected area. Their key roles are therefore:
• Protecting larger-scale ecological processes that will be missed by smaller protected areas or in cultural landscapes;
• Protecting compatible ecosystem services;
• Protecting particular species and communities that require relatively large areas of undisturbed habitat;
• Providing a “pool” of such species to help populate sustain-ably-managed areas surrounding the protected area;
• To be integrated with surrounding land or water uses to contribute to large-scale conservation plans;
• To inform and excite visitors about the need for and potential of conservation programmes;
• To support compatible economic development, mostly through recreation and tourism, that can contribute to local and national economies and in particular to local communities.
Category II areas should be more strictly protected where ecological functions and native species composition are relatively intact; surrounding landscapes can have varying degrees of consumptive or non-consumptive uses but should ideally serve as buffers to the protected area.
What makes category II unique?
Category II differs from the other categories in the following ways:
Category Ia Category II will generally not be as strictly conserved as category Ia and may include tourist infrastructure and visitation. However, category II protected areas will often have core zones where visitor numbers are strictly controlled, which may more closely resemble category Ia.
Category Ib Visitation in category II will probably be quite different from in wilderness areas, with more attendant infrastructure (trails, roads, lodges etc.) and therefore probably a greater number of visitors. Category II protected areas will often have core zones where numbers of visitors are strictly controlled, which may more closely resemble category Ib.
Category III Management in category III is focused around a single natural feature, whereas in category II it is focused on maintaining a whole ecosystem.
Category IV Category II is aimed at maintaining ecological integrity at ecosystem scale, whereas category IV is aimed at protecting habitats and individual species. In practice, category IV protected areas will seldom be large enough to protect an entire ecosystem and the distinction between categories II and IV is therefore to some extent a matter of degree: category IV sites are likely to be quite small (individual marshes, fragments of woodland, although there are exceptions), while category II are likely to be much larger and at least fairly self-sustaining.
Category V Category II protected areas are essentially natural systems or in the process of being restored to natural systems while category V are cultural landscapes and aim to be retained in this state.
Category VI Category II will not generally have resource use permitted except for subsistence or minor recreational purposes.

Issues for consideration
• Concepts of naturalness are developing fast and some areas that may previously have been regarded as natural are now increasingly seen as to some extent cultural landscapes – e.g., savannah landscapes where fire has been used to maintain vegetation mosaics and thus populations of animals for hunting. The boundaries between what is regarded and managed as category II and category V may therefore change over time.
• Commercialization of land and water in category II is creating challenges in many parts of the world, in part because of a political perception of resources being “locked up” in national parks, with increasing pressure for greater recreational uses and lack of compliance by tour operators, development of aquaculture and mariculture schemes, and trends towards privatization of such areas.
• Issues of settled populations in proposed category II protected areas, questions of displacement, compensation (including for fishing communities displaced from marine and coastal protected areas), alternative livelihood options and changed approaches to management are all emerging themes.”






Attachment: Dr Mabunda’s speech, 28 November 2011

SPEECH Presented by SANParks CEO, Dr David Mabunda at the annual Kudu Awards
Ceremony held in Skukuza, Kruger National Park on 28 November 2011

TRANSFORMATION OF NATIONAL PARKS CAN CREATE A BETTER SOUTH AFRICA
It is approximately 139 years since the first national park in the world was established. The
reasons for establishing national parks have evolved from protecting wildlands, and wildlife
to protecting biological life forms, promoting socio‐economic development and patriotism.
Revolutionary changes similar to those that ushered in political changes from Julius Caesar’s
crossing of the Rubicon, the French Revolution and the Arab Spring Uprisings in the Middle
East and North Africa, are sweeping across the conservation sector. As we speak the world
is gathered in Durban for COP 17 of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change
(UNFCC) to find solutions to a growing global warming problem which has increased
temperatures to unsustainable levels. Thanks again to our own peaceful revolution in 1994
that today South Africa is part of the global village playing a leading role in global events
such as COP 17 to secure a sustainable future for our planet. Change is inevitable.

Unfortunately environmental matters in the new South Africa are still steeped in the context
of the previous racial stratification. Through a well crafted apartheid system environmental
policies, practices, repressive management approaches and models of service‐delivery
succeeded in alienating Black people from enjoying access and benefits accruing from the
country’s natural capital, including wildlife viewing. This exclusion by design, of the majority
of our population, has bred a deep‐seated resentment and bitterness towards national
parks and conservation in general and it will take another “long walk to freedom” to
normalize the situation in future. National Parks were and still are perceived as a playground
for the elite and changing this negative public image is like climbing a greasy pole on a hot
summer day. However difficult as it may seem, change is inevitable.

We must begin mobilising support for national parks from the broad mainstream of society
– from the squatter camps of our townships, deep rural villages from Venda to the Transkei,
to the leafy suburbs of our towns and cities. Public proprietorship or support for national
parks in South Africa remain skewed in favour of those who enjoyed them previously.
People living in townships and rural areas are still excluded (by financial means and
attitudes) and attempts to bring these folks on board continue to be opposed by the same
anti‐transformation lobby. If national parks are to become a mirror of our society’s
environmental values and vigorous symbols along with the national flag, the national
anthem, the coat of arms and the Union Buildings, then they ought to reflect the
demographics of our new nation in all respects. The roar of the Kruger lion, the iconic view
of Table Mountain, the night call of the jackal at Mokala, the ancient graves of the Balemba
people on Mapungubwe Hill, the Namavastrapof the Richtersveldt people, the red sand
dunes of the Kgalagadi and the trumpet of the Addo elephant ought to evoke a love of our
country for its intrinsic values and to define our patriotism.

It will be an unforgivable mistake if we were to accept the sickening tendency by a handful
of ‘old‐school’ conservationists appointing themselves as agents of positive societal change.
They continue to campaign for the retention of past policies and privileges as they were
over the last 100 years. That campaign will not succeed in a democratic society. As society
changes we too must change. We have taken a long hard look at ourselves as new
conservation leaders and practitioners and decided to reinvent our organization into a
modern institution that is more adaptive and innovative. This is in order to better respond
to the challenges we face in our Second Century of existence. Our Board has debated and
eventually adopted a new vision and mission “to connect our national parks to society”.
[South African National Parks Connecting to Society]

The new vision is an attempt to address the deep concern that we see playing itself out in
the open where national parks in particular are becoming irrelevant to a society whose
majority is disconnected from nature and history. We have a tall order to help all 50 million
or so South Africans (including naturalised foreigners and the youth) to discover a personal
connection to their national parks. It can only be the entire nation, not just those who
understand biodiversity, which can make our parks come alive in our national psyche. All
citizens will relate to and cherish national parks if given a chance to connect, through
offering a diversity of products or by using available cutting‐edge technology. If people
cannot physically visit parks our outreach programmes should benefit them in their homes
in ways that parks cannot. It has been said by those resisting change in form or thinking that
products like hotels have no place in a national park environment. This is a point that fails to
recognise that the tastes and profiles of our visitors are changing. A new society is being
born. .

Our new vision derives its meaning from the provisions of the new Constitution which
stipulates the existence of protected areas in the socio‐economic and political context of
South Africa. Section 24 (a)‐(b) (ii) and (iii) says: “Everyone has a right to have the
environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through
reasonable legislative and other measures that (ii) promote conservation; and (iii) secure
ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting
justifiable economic and social development”. Quoting the relevant section in the
Constitution exposes two very key points which must not be treated with triviality. The first
one is that the government of South Africa in executing its mandate of protecting the
environment is expected to benefit present and future generations by developing
reasonable legislation and other measures, including practices and processes. Furthermore,
the government is expected to promote conservation and ecologically sustainable
development and resource use. There is nowhere in the Constitution that says there shall
be no development done in national parks or that there are certain groups or individuals
who are not allowed to benefit from the existence of protected areas including national
parks. Our parks must change to benefit all 50 million of our citizens. We therefore agree
with our Minister (Edna Molewa) when she refers to national parks as “hubs of economic
development in our society”. We must create more job and business opportunities for this
region and the rest of the country through the conservation function. We must add
meaningful value to society.

The work that we do is far more than keeping tourism facilities in a state of good repair,
welcoming visitors to a wilderness experience, protecting the rhino from poachers, keeping
the elephant population in check or making a government bureaucracy run smooth. Our
work is at the very core of nation‐building in post‐apartheid South Africa. We should
become a national institution that represents the love and commitment of all South Africans
for their living heritage, as opposed to the love and commitment of a by‐gone era purist
ideology. The idea of a “safari in Africa” is an idea whose time has passed for it was crafted
with the vision of a continent that is filled with exotic animals and what was then regarded
as a sub‐human species whose only existence was for the assistance of the supposedly
civilized European visitors to navigate the “dark continent”. We were never consulted in its
crafting and neither were we considered. Today we should help South Africans celebrate the
best of themselves, their places, wildlife, stories and experiences that make us who we are.

By inviting all South Africans, instead of just some, to visit the parks we so proudly maintain
on their behalf, we ensure that each new generation will be nourished by unique personal
experiences that help them learn what it really means to be one with this place that we call
our home and native land. We make their previously suppressed and ignored passion for
wildlife a living experience. We take their yearning for understanding and learning and give
it fulfilment. We provide them with spiritual healing and therapy to help them deal with the
harsh realities of an emerging society that faces rampant crime, poverty and high
unemployment. We make them understand that our country faces a challenging but not an
impossible future. We give them South Africa in all her natural diversity and human
complexity.

In recent months we travelled to the United States of America and Canada to visit a few of
their national parks and learnt to our consternation how limited and archaic our views of
visitor management are. This visit showed us how other countries have gone out to
embrace the challenges of growing populations, intrinsic diversity and an increasingly
demanding populace by creating products which cater to the differing needs and challenges
from virtual experiences, to solitary camping in the wild and to the ultra‐luxurious
accommodation in posh hotel establishments. Of course all of this did not come without its
attendant challenges, which was one of the valuable lessons we learnt from the visit. In
Canada it was very interesting to learn that they have a programme to introduce “new
Canadians” to the national parks system of Canada by providing a suite of activities that will
attract their interest and bring them closer to the national parks. Both countries were also
insistent on the fact that National Parks are not Nature Parks; their role far exceeds that of
the traditional practice of protecting nature without consideration of social and economic
dynamics of society. They kept reminding us that their national parks are managed for the
benefit and enjoyment of their citizens and not as exclusive pieces of land for the enjoyment
of the “elite” and the preservation of stick in the mud conservation practices.

Our national parks face a daunting future underwritten by the effects of clinging on obsolete
traditional conservation methods, climate change, air and water pollution, plundering of
natural resources by poachers, declining state subsidies, historical infrastructure
maintenance backlogs, accelerated rates of biodiversity loss and many other challenges. It
cost R1,4 billion to run the affairs of SANParks and this figure is growing annually. To
overcome these challenges we need futuristic ideas than personal biographies and the
previous century’s ideological paradigms. . Perhaps the only thing we know for sure is that
we must think and act in new ways. Solving these national challenges for our sector requires
the collective intervention of all communities (sophisticated and traditional), government,
educational institutions, business (the tourism industry) and organs of civil society to work
differently – and work together. The state has other financial priorities and will not be
channelling millions to conservation. We must adapt and be innovative. There is enough
room to do so. We still manage 99% wilderness and all accommodation for general public
access. We only commercialized the few 5 Star concession beds, shops and restaurants.
Nothing more. Our Rangers are still doing traditional wildlife management, we have not
outsourced this to “Robocop” or private security and we have no future plans to do so. Our
development footprint for all national parks stands at a paltry 0,17% and the rest is as
natural as it comes. We have no intention of overdeveloping or over‐commercializing this
heritage and national asset.

In this context we give you South African National Parks in its Second Century of existence in
the best form ever. We urge all citizens to join us in creating a South Africa that works, a
South Africa of people with diverse cultural and political persuasions connected to their
national parks, to their stories and one another to make South Africa a better country than
it is at the moment. Our national parks should inspire our natural faith, that through acts of
conscious conservation stewardship and full public enjoyment, we begin to fulfil our
profoundest duties to each other and the living world around us. Our national parks are not
just ecological geographical landscapes or playgrounds for the elite but an important part of
our proudly South African existence. Each of our national parks is part of the country’s
collective soul and an inalienable component of our nation’s promise to its future. Our
transformation and product diversification programmes seek to achieve that future for the
benefit of all citizens and live up to our new vision of “South African National Parks
connecting to society”.

As we celebrate the hosting of COP 17, tonight’s winners of both the Chief Executive
Officer’s Award and the Kudu Awards we should be thinking of the meaning of these new
words and how they affect us individually and as a proud family of the national parks of
South Africa. Congratulations to everyone who will be ascending the podium tonight and
may you continue to contribute to conservation in the country in a meaningful and
significant way by helping each of us to discover our personal connection to this – our
national heritage. .

Thank you.

Dr David Mabunda is CEO of South Africa National Parks

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Re: Dr. Joubert's answer to Dr. Mabunda's Speech - Thu Jan 1

Post by Lisbeth » Mon May 21, 2012 1:38 pm

Wild Dreamer wrote:Quoting from Dr. Mabunda's speech above: "The work that we do is far more than keeping tourism facilities in a state of good repair,
welcoming visitors to a wilderness experience, protecting the rhino from poachers, keeping
the elephant population in check or making a government bureaucracy run smooth. Our
work is at the very core of nation‐building in post‐apartheid South Africa.
We should
become a national institution that represents the love and commitment of all South Africans
for their living heritage, as opposed to the love and commitment of a bygone era purist
ideology. The idea of a “safari in Africa” is an idea whose time has passed for it was crafted
with the vision of a continent that is filled with exotic animals and what was then regarded
as a subhuman species whose only existence was for the assistance of the supposedly
civilized European visitors to navigate the “dark continent”. We were never consulted in its
crafting and neither were we considered. Today we should help South Africans celebrate the
best of themselves, their places, wildlife, stories and experiences that make us who we are. "

Note his mission above all else. No care about tourists, protecting the rhino or anything else! SHOCKING for someone in his position!
This is not the only paragraph in the speech that leaves one speechless with shock and disgust!

Poplap wrote:Dr Joubert! O_ O_ O_ Very insightful and spot on!


Approximately 15-20% of the visitors to our national parks are foreigners who therefore contribute roughly R200 million towards the running of our national parks.

That's a lot of Western noses! :twisted:

Richprins wrote:My take on Dr Mabunda's speech:

Mabunda's speech is strongly reminiscent of Apartheid-Era rhetoric in itself, ironically, with respect to its paternalistic and "holier than thou" approach, and reference to a "hidden threat"!!!!

I think one should ask him why the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment cautioned Sanparks to reevaluate its commercialisation policy, and why Sanparks are still more than willing to take the money of the "purists" whom they graciously "invite" to the Parks!!

In fact, taking Mabunda's twisted reasoning to its logical conclusion, all Sanparks should be deproclaimed and handed over to black South Africans with all possible haste... (Not Indian and white and coloured South Africans, because they visit the Parks in significant numbers, so are supporters of Apartheid!)

Mabunda is laying the groundwork for all sorts of future developments here, in my opinion, or aiming for political office.

iNdlovu wrote:
Richprins wrote:My take on Dr Mabunda's speech:


Mabunda is laying the groundwork for all sorts of future developments here, in my opinion, or aiming for political office.


Definately has his eye on political office and all the big side money it entails in my opinion, personally I don't think our parks, its animals or our heritage mean a flying fig to him.

Peter Betts wrote:This rabid Racist must be stopped in his tracks and given an Ambassadors job in Iceland or Mongolia with a 30 year contract..Then in order to save/make money they can close down their ineffectual Commubnications division...What do they do?...How are they benefitting South Africa and Conservation...then asa spin off from that their Forum will be a normal forum on nature without the little demigogs spoiling it all for everyone through quaint and dangerous agendas. The can also Outsource non Core stuff like E Commerce...again a IT manager trained in South Africa can run that at a fraction of the cost

Richprins wrote:From Natal Mercury Newspaper :

Conservation vs development

January 18 2012 at 01:17pm


By Leon Marshall - The heated debate over Kruger Park is a reflection of the challenges that face South Africa today.



The controversy over “hotels” in the Kruger National Park has flared up more angrily than before. The accusations being flung back and forth smack of deep personal animosities. But the remarkable aspect is the gulf it reveals between the antagonists’ perceptions of a democratic SA and how nature reserves fit into it.

The flare-up was sparked by remarks made by SA National Parks (SANParks) chief executive David Mabunda in a speech to the organisation’s annual Kudu Awards function late last year in Kruger’s Skukuza camp. Noting that parks needed to change to benefit all 50 million of SA’s citizens, he said he agreed with Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa regarding national parks as “hubs of economic development in our society”.

He took a swipe at what he called the sickening tendency by a handful of old-school conservationists appointing themselves as agents of positive societal change, saying they continued to campaign for the retention of past policies and privileges as they had over the past 100 years.

He did not mention Salomon Joubert by name, but the man who headed Kruger National Park during the closing years of white rule was not deceived.

In a wide-ranging and stinging e-mail to associates which he said could be passed on for publication, he charged that Mabunda could surely not be referring to the vast majority of proudly SA white people who had embraced the new SA as loyal and committed citizens and who honoured the national parks.

The two were at each other’s throats for much of last year after the “hotel” plans for Kruger became known, one inside Skukuza camp and the other just inside the park’s border near Malelane.



Their exchanges have basically been about whether the developments negated SANParks’ brief to protect the natural environment. It has hardly mattered that the “hotel” aspect refers more to the services to be offered than to the buildings, which are of an architectural style and landscaping that better fits the description of “lodge”.

But the word “hotel” was what unleashed the rumpus, bringing into contention not only the future management of our national parks but also the gamut of political and socio-economic aspects that should come into the reckoning.

The quarrel is not necessarily a bad thing. However much one would like to place parks and our natural heritage on a separate pedestal, they form as much a part of the great SA conundrum as mass poverty and unemployment, housing and education, the ever-widening chasm between the haves and have-nots, land reform and nationalisation issues, and just about every other societal and economic issue bearing down.

Their part in society’s reconstruction should be as seriously debated.

What is questionable is the tone in which this has been happening.

Some of the points raised have indeed been most helpful in fostering better understanding of how parks operate.

Mabunda has, for example, provided figures showing that “development” in the form of camps and roads made up less than a percent of the park’s land area and was far below the international norm.

Joubert has questioned the figures and the manner in which “development” got measured, arguing that it should not be restricted to the peripheries of roads and camps but take into account their wider impact.

Like lawyers arguing in court, both have sought to back their arguments with quotations from, and their respective interpretations of, the constitution, the Protected Areas Act and the National Environmental Management Act, as well as international standards, conventions and practices. This has in no small measure helped to elucidate the principles and the many considerations that come into parks management.

But the most remarkable part has been their political point scoring. These are two scientists whose interests and careers have intersected to the extent that Joubert has written an authoritative three-volume history of Kruger National Park up to 1994, and Mabunda, himself a former director of the park, is understood to be writing a fourth volume covering the period since then.

Yet their standpoints on how parks fit into a democratic SA provide telling insights into the worlds setting them apart inside the country they share.

Joubert accepts the economic value parks have in the form of tourism, but their core value, he persistently emphasises, is that of preserving biodiversity “in its most pristine state possible” and of allowing visitors to appreciate nature for its spiritual, educative and recreational values. The last way he wants to think of them is as “hubs of economic development”. Such talk serves only to deepen his suspicion that the “hotels” are not where development is going to stop.

He questions Mabunda’s assurances that the parks will not be overdeveloped.

It is from this mistrust that the acrimony seems to spring. It is either meant to mean, or be taken to mean, or both, that “black people” cannot be trusted to properly look after the parks the old “white” rulers had left them in the way they should.

Mabunda says he wants to make SANParks a national institution that represents the love and commitment of all South Africans, as opposed to the love and commitment of a bygone era purist ideology.

The idea of a “safari in Africa ” has passed, for it was crafted with the vision of a continent filled with exotic animals and what was then regarded as a subhuman species whose only existence was to help the supposedly civilised European visitors to navigate the “dark continent”.

Joubert retorts: Who is he trying to get at? If anything, many of the early European explorers came to Africa and plundered its wilderness and wildlife to the point where people with vision who had settled here to build a future had to set areas aside to protect and preserve their wilderness qualities. Appreciation of the wilderness ambience and a respect for ecological integrity was initiated and developed by those who accepted this as their country of birth and have as much claim to SA as any of its other citizens.

Mabunda: Environmental matters are still steeped in the previous racial stratification. Apartheid alienated black people from enjoying access and benefits accruing from the country’s natural capital, including wildlife viewing.

This bred a deep-seated resentment and bitterness towards national parks and conservation in general and it will take another long walk to freedom to normalise the situation. National parks were and still are perceived as a playground for the elite, and changing this negative public image is like climbing a greasy pole on a hot summer day.

Public proprietorship or support for national parks remain skewed in favour of those who enjoyed them previously.

People living in townships and rural areas are still excluded by financial means and attitudes, and attempts to bring them on board continue to be opposed by the same anti-transformation lobby.

Joubert: It is true that SA has had a history of separate development (apartheid), and that the policy denied many of its citizens their rights, privileges and freedoms and left scars that will take time and care to heal. Fortunately, under the leadership and statesmanship of the first post-apartheid president, Nelson Mandela, the struggle for rights and freedom was concluded, differences were resolved and a united effort towards healing and nation-building was initiated. It is incumbent on all loyal and true South Africans to now look forward and contribute towards a united rainbow nation.

He adds: Figures show that the number of black visitors to parks has increased from 4 percent in 1994 to 26 percent. This is a remarkable achievement that should be applauded. The fact that these new visitors were favourably impressed with what they found is hugely encouraging. All SANParks now has to do is increase its awareness campaign, without needing to build expensive upmarket hotels.

Though the exchanges between the two antagonists are colourful and perhaps cast in rather excessively emotional language, the issues at stake are stark.

To harm the ecological integrity of parks in the name of development would be to impede the very role they should play in contributing to the conservation value, the attraction and the economic growth of SA.

But a park like Kruger especially has several million people, many of whom are unemployed, living along its border.

To underestimate the pressures emanating from such a situation, in addition to those generated by the divisions within broader society, would amount to a gross misreading of the “rainbow nation”.

Balancing environmental protection and development is the trickiest challenge of nature reserves.

It becomes more so when a government that is less conservation-minded starts cutting back on funding. It is then that the experts should be putting heads together rather than bumping them.

Richprins wrote:"Some of the points raised have indeed been most helpful in fostering better understanding of how parks operate.

Mabunda has, for example, provided figures showing that “development” in the form of camps and roads made up less than a percent of the park’s land area and was far below the international norm."



This is the biggest red herring at the moment...

The development "footprint" in Kruger has always been around 2-3% depending on how it is quantified.

However, this includes the entire 2 million hectares of Kruger, divided by the entire developmental network. The point is, while the vastly overcrowded and over-commercialised Southern Section of Kruger could for argument's sake have a development footprint of 10-15%, miles above the internationally accepted standard, it is "diluted" by lumping it in with the footprint of the huge Northern half of Kruger, which could literally be less than 0.01%!!!

And lately the whole of Sanparks has been pronounced to have an even tinier footprint, which conveniently includes Kgalagadi TFP, an area even larger than Northern Kruger, with an even smaller footprint! :roll:

So statistics, as we all know, can be misleading!

iNdlovu wrote:Correct...100% RP, so how do we go about getting Mr Public to understand that the Dr is sprouting piffle :wink: Seriously a normal person will look at his figures and say Hmmmm that's not so bad.

Richprins wrote:Back to the media and Facebook and Parliament! :twisted:

iNdlovu wrote:Your argument above about the 'footprint' and how stats can be manipulated needs to find space in the Beeld and Lowvelder

Richprins wrote:The argument was made in 2009 already, re Kruger! :twisted:

But slipped through the cracks...?

Has already been sent on, don't worry! \O

Poplap wrote:Thanks for posting this, RP. When I saw the article this morning I thought that valid points were made by the writer.
Richprins wrote:To harm the ecological integrity of parks in the name of development would be to impede the very role they should play in contributing to the conservation value, the attraction and the economic growth of SA.


This is what we have been saying all along. Us 'purists' and 'elites' and 100 year old supporters.

Poplap wrote:
Richprins wrote:Balancing environmental protection and development is the trickiest challenge of nature reserves.

It becomes more so when a government that is less conservation-minded starts cutting back on funding.

This is what has been worrying us all along. The issues are indeed stark.

:?
iNdlovu wrote:I know this has been said before, but isn't it amazing how Mabunda never ceases to interpret our opposition to his hotels as us wanting to keep the parks away from the black citizens of this country. In my opinion, the gap between him and Julius Malema narrows every time he opens his mouth. In reality, it is his plan for 4 or 5 star accommodation that will keep black citizens away strictly from an affordability stand point. Even as it is, current costs of visiting the park ensure that the vast majority of South Africans cannot enjoy their heritage, it has nothing to do with the so called 'elite' at all. I get so frustrated that he gets away with his kind of logic and that nobody seems to question it, least of all the media.
Flutterby wrote:iNd...that's been my question all along!!! How does a luxury hotel allow the average person (no matter the colour of their skin) the opportunity to enjoy the park??? O/
Richprins wrote:From Dr Joubert...it must be stressed he is not a member of any forum or organisation, I just passed the discussion along!:

I assume the red herring passed on for my information comes from your internet thread. While I agree with your explanation, you may as well also bring the following to the attention of the participant:



Mabunda’s argument that the Kruger Park’s footprint is 0.3% opens him to ridicule. While that figure was obviously derived from a simple mathematical equation, it is highly misleading as it does not take into consideration either visual impacts or noise pollution – both integral components of any environmental impact assessment. A similar exercise undertaken in the late 1980’s but that added 100 m on either side of the roads to account for visual impacts yielded a figure of some 6%. That was before the seven concessions. Though the 100 m on either side of the roads was extremely conservative it at least gives a vastly more accountable figure than that provided by Dr Mabunda.



Dr Mabunda has tried to give the assurance that SANParks will not “over-develope” our national parks but have consistently ignored questions on how they define “over development”. Instead the argument is that the Kruger Park’s footprint is only 0.3% while the international standard is set at 10% (the last part of this statement is seriously questioned and I certainly do not know from what it is derived). But let us have a look at its implications: the present development footprint is 0.3%. If the present infrastructure (rest camps, staff quarters, roads) are doubled (two each of all the developments) it would amount to a footprint of 0.6% of the Park. Double that (four each) to a footprint of 1.2%, double that again (eight each) to 2.4% and by the time 10% is reached there will be 32 each of the existing facilities (32 times Skukuza, Pretoriuskop, Satara, Olifants, Letaba, etc; 32 times the present road network, 32 times the staff quarters; 32 times the present number of annual visitors, etc.).

Does SANParks feel itself justified, or at least free, by international norms, to develop up to 10% of our national parks? Would you like that?
dup wrote:Some things work in SA.Mass protest, pressure groups etc. they must start listening .But that is postings on other subjects see you there, in a few days.
Good show RP \O

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