Over the last few months two capacity building sessions were provided to the Biodiversity Stewardship community of practice, aimed at enhancing capacity to undertake biodiversity stewardship on communal land specifically. This training is the first of its kind in South Africa.  On 21 and 22 August 2019, the Queen Elizabeth Park Theatre at the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Head Offices in Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu Natal was the venue for the first round of the capacity building sessions. The second session took place at SANBI’s Pretoria National Botanical Garden, on 3 and 4 October 2019.

A total of 195 delegates from various government departments and NGOs were in attendance.  Representatives from SANBI, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (KZN), the Institute of Natural Resources, WWF-SA, the Ecoguard Biosciences (Pty) Ltd, ECPTA, The Wild Bird Trust – Cape Parrots Project, Cape Nature, and representatives from Msunduzi Municipality were in attendance.  Representatives from the Environmental and Rural Solutions, DEDEAT, the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Programme,  Conservation Outcomes, ILembe District Municipality, Ethekwini Municipality, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, & Beyond, Conservation SA, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, University of Toronto, UKZN, Kruger 2 Canyons,  Sigwela & Associates, SA National Parks: Kruger National Park, African Conservation Trust,  Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Birdlife SA, People and Parks community representative, and Humana People to People; were also in attendance.

Mpho Gumula, SANBI’s Land Reform and Biodiversity Stewardship Officer opened both events and welcomed attendees to the capacity building sessions.  In welcoming the participants Mpho stated that “as SANBI we aspire to create inclusive spaces that bring diverse people together to contribute their skills and talents to strengthen our communities of practice”.

The capacity building workshops were each implemented over a period of two days in which four sessions were covered on each day.  Day one focus sessions included community conservation related issues, building relationships with the community, introduction to and processes of biodiversity stewardship over communal land and addressing legal risks. While the sessions on the second day of the capacity building workshops focused on protected areas planning, benefits of biodiversity stewardship on communal land and a very interactive session focusing on various case studies.

The aim of the case study session in particular was to showcase an array of examples of biodiversity stewardship initiatives currently being undertaken on communal land; and sharing of these practices.  The following case studies were engaged with by attendees: Nambiti Private Game Reserve and Babanango Game Reserve presented by Greg Martindale, Mabaso Protected Environment presented by Ayanda Cele, the Community Rangeland Management in the Eastern Cape presented by Nicky Macleod, Itala Game Reserve presented by Paul Cryer, the Blyde River Canyon Co-management Initiative presented by Nick Theron; and the Northern Cape community stewardship CSA model presented by Melinda Gardiner.

In its mission to reinvigorate the Land Reform and Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative, SANBI and its partners are expanding their footprint to include communal land sites with high biodiversity value into their land reform areas of work.

For more information and training material please contact Mpho Gumula on 012 853 5120 or M.Gumula@sanbi.org.za

Author: Mpho Gumula

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