27 May 2005

WWF-SA urges efforts to ease CapeNature cash crisis

South Africa needs to find ways to ensure far-reaching cooperation and innovation so that scarce resources are used to full effect for the long term benefit of the environment.

The fact that formal conservation agencies are in crisis should concern all South Africans as we are completely dependent on the environment for our well-being and, to a large extent, economic growth.

That's the reaction of Rob Little, Conservation Director of the South African arm of the World Wide Fund for Nature in South Africa (WWF-SA), following media reports on the financial plight of CapeNature last week.

Little says WWF-SA has been aware of CapeNature's financial difficulties for some time and has already met with the conservation agency to discuss ways of helping ease the crisis.

"WWF-SA has partnerships with CapeNature in a number of areas, including capacity building, conservation education, land stewardship and the establishment of a conservation area in the Succulent Karoo. We've discussed ways to ensure that our combined resources are put to their best use."

Media reports last week suggested that Cape Nature needs around R20-million more than its current allocation to cover its costs, compared to around R12-million a year it generates from tourism.

CapeNature has indicated that it may have to temporarily close some of its less popular reserves to contain its costs.

Little says: "Partnerships have always been a crucial aspect of our work and WWF-SA regards CapeNature as too important a local player to ignore its plight. The problems facing CapeNature aren't entirely unique and we believe our relationships with government, national and local, must encourage support for environmental conservation as the basis of sustainable and equitable development.

"We appreciate the predicament of CapeNature in its efforts to make our natural heritage accessible to all. This is an essential part of ensuring that all South Africans fully value our natural heritage and all it has to offer.

"Increasing prices is not the solution. Reducing costs is also only part of this difficult process. Much more work has to be done to find innovative and sustainable funding solutions for all our formally protected areas to ensure their long-term accessibility for all. This is a process that needs to be led by government with input from all interested parties."

Source: WWF-SA


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