South Africa: Minister Welcomes Collaboration in Biodiversity Conservation

Private reserves on the western boundary of the Kruger National Park and government have committed to working together on a number of areas, including tackling wildlife crime, enhancing transformation and improving the local economy.

"The cooperation with private reserves in the western boundary of the Kruger National Park is key to ensuring that communities live in harmony with nature," Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy said on Wednesday.

She made these remarks on the conclusion of her engagement with representatives of the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), community members and other stakeholders in Mpumalanga this week to discuss a range of problems that have arisen in recent years.

These include wildlife crime and rhino poaching.

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and the Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Forum (GKEPF) of which the APNR is a part, agreed to create three sub-committees to address rhino poaching and combatting wildlife crime, economic ecosystems and protected areas' conservation.

In addition, administrative blockages and governance will be discussed.

Another important area of collaboration includes creating opportunities for beneficiation of communities living on the borders, or close to, to reserves and the Kruger National Park, and expansion of the protected areas estate.

"It was indeed an honour to meet with the Minister to discuss critical conservation efforts to sustain the Greater Kruger area. The positive engagements lay a firm foundation for collective action in the interest of biodiversity and sustainable development in this area," GKEPF CEO Sharon Hausmann said.

Hausmann said the meeting had pledged their continued commitment to conservation efforts, and specifically the three identified areas of closer cooperation.

The Minister invited all stakeholders to participate in the policy processes by submitting their written submissions on the draft White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in South Africa and the draft Game Meat Strategy.

Cabinet recently approved it for public comment. The White Paper and Strategy are to be gazette for consultation in the near future.

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