Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa launches the Double Drift Wildlife Economy Project in Eastern Cape
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa has called for the inclusion of previously disadvantaged communities in the biodiversity economy.
The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Nofingxana community in the Eastern Cape's Double Drift Wildlife Economy project, emphasising the need for transformation of the biodiversity economy sector.
"The implementation of the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, which includes wildlife and bio-prospecting value chain activities, is but one mechanism for advancing beneficiation of communities adjacent to protected areas," said the Minister.
Dr Molewa said such a strategy was conducive even in marginal lands that were not agriculturally productive, but that were able to advance ecotourism, hunting, expansion of conservation estate, and other related support activities.
"The contribution of the biodiversity economy in poverty alleviation and enhancement of rural livelihoods can therefore not be undermined."
Minister Molewa was joined by the local chieftainship and community leaders, the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Phumulo Masualle, MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr Sakhumzi Somyo, mayors, national and provincial conservation, parks and tourism leaders, as well as the leadership of the Likhaya Lethu Community Property Association to witness the release of red hartebeest and zebra onto the Double Drift property.
The launch of the project comes ahead of the three-day 3rd Biodiversity Economy Indaba to be held at the International Convention Centre in East London, Eastern Cape, from 8 to 10 March 2018.
Minister Molewa described the handover of the title deed for the land to the Nofingxana community as the entry to a "new era in conservation -- where local communities and government joined hands in fighting the economic ills of poverty, unemployment and inequality through the sustainable use of our biological resources for the economic benefit of our communities".
"The launch of this Double Drift Project marks the new dawn in community-led wildlife management which unlocks wildlife ranching that includes a focus on game breeding and live sales transforming the sector," said Minister Molewa.
The Double Drift Community was dispossessed of residential and grazing rights as a result of 1913 Land Act to make way for the establishment of the Double Drift Nature Reserve, which forms part of the Great Fish Nature Reserve. After the advent of democracy in 1994, the community lodged a land claim which was settled in 2012 and Likhaya Lethu Communal Property Association (CPA) was established.
The Likhaya Lethu CPA, consisting of 1 500 Double Drift Community members, has been funded R6 million by the national Department of Environmental Affairs to develop a Wildlife Economy business venture in the farm Naudeshoek (1 400 hactares), which has been bought for them as part of the settlement by the state through the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
The activities undertaken with this funding include the installation of a game fence; construction of an Entrance Gate; construction of rangers and hunters accommodation; construction of a Boma, and training and development of community members.
In the wildlife sector, participation of previously disadvantaged individuals has been, and continues to be, over-shadowed by several barriers, including insufficient access, ownership and inefficient utilisation of land, as well as a lack of infrastructure development support for entrepreneurs.
The community beneficiation includes extensive game breeding of high value and plain game species for live sales; beneficiation of products such as game meat, product development from skin and hides, and ecotourism activities such accommodation.
In terms of the co-management agreement between the CPA and the ECPTA, the provincial parks and tourism authority committed to providing technical assistance, training and expert advice on the management and operations and also start-up game.
Minister Molewa said that in the wildlife sector, participation of previously disadvantaged individuals has been, and continues to be, over-shadowed by several barriers. These include insufficient access, ownership and inefficient utilisation of land, as well as a lack of infrastructure development support for entrepreneurs. The high capital costs for acquiring land, fencing and game are amongst the major barriers to entry and transformation.
"Overcoming these barriers or challenges to entering the sector requires coordinated effort," said the Minister.
Through the installation of the fence and the entrance gate launched today, 60 job opportunities have been created for the community. The jobs were created for 21 women, 26 youth and 29 men.
The farm Naudeshoek 224 is endowed with a diversity of indigenous plants, including Aloe Ferox and Pelargonium. These are presently being harvested informally by the local community.
The Eastern Cape Province has confirmed that the Greater Amathole Biodiversity Economy Node, which extends to the Great Fish River Nature Reserve, is a development priority for the district.
As part of the Biodiversity Economy initiatives, government intends investing in a multi-purpose processing plant in the Amathole district areas and similarly do the same in other districts within the Province. This will require close cooperation between communities, government and industry through Community Public Private Partnerships.
"It is also important to note that we have already appointed a team of transaction advisors who will be working closely with the people of the Eastern Cape on the issues relating to and particularly the exploitation of community members. These are situations where community members are reduced to becoming tappers and harvesters of genetic resources with little revenue received in exchange," said the Minister.
The formal programme of the launch was preceded by the release of game loaned to the CPA by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) as part of the implementation of their Game Industry Transformation Policy. The support from the ECPTA also include mentorship as part of the co-management agreement signed in 2016 with the communities.
Another integral part of the launch will be the handing over of the title deed to the Likhaya Lethu CPA a representative of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
Wishing the CPA and community well in their new venture, Minister Molewa said: "The CPA should allow the land to be optimally utilised through conservation and business principles. Young people should be given space to come with great innovations within the wildlife economy space that will see the creations of jobs and ultimately the upliftment of your community."
Minister Molewa appealed to CPAs countrywide to not waste time fighting each other, stating they should "rather exhaust their energies optimally utilising the land so that it can work for the beneficiaries".
Issued by: Department of Tourism