People & Parks Conference (2014)
The resolution of land restitution claims in protected areas remains a vexed challenge with almost 2/3 of such claims remaining unresolved almost twenty years since the commencement of south Africa's Land Reform Programme. Alexander (Sandy) Paterson recently returned from attending the 5th People and Parks Conference held just north of Mthatha in mid-September. The aim of the conference was to bring together representatives of key constituencies engaged in protected areas to build on and develop the future of the People and Parks Programme, share progress and chart the future. Opened by both the Minister of Environmental Affairs and the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, and attended by over 700 government officials and land claimant communities, the conference addressed issues ranging from strengthening partnerships and relationships between government and communities, expediting the implementation of co-management, facilitating access and benefit sharing strategies associated with protected areas, and exploring sustainable financing mechanisms for the programme. You can download a copy of the consolidated action plan to emerge from the Conference here.