South African National Parks (SANParks) has signed a bipartite agreement with French development agency Agence Française de Dévéloppement (AFD) for funding to preserve biodiversity in South Africa.
The AFD is providing €1.85-million to biodiversity efforts in South Africa and Reunion Island. SANParks will receive €1.2-million and Reunion Island the balance.
SANParks aims to share experiences with Reunion Island National Park (RINP), and signed a cooperation agreement to this end in February 2019.
French ambassador to South Africa Aurélien Lechevallier says France has always considered biodiversity conservation a key priority and that it will host the World Conservation Congress this year.
“Through this exemplary regional cooperation project, France is providing concrete support for the preservation of biodiversity in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean,” he says.
Particularly, RINP and Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) will collaborate on the similar challenges that they face, including management of fragile ecosystems.
Both parks are located in urban environments, which stretch from mountain to sea, with a presence of invasive and vulnerable species, as well as a high numbers of tourists.
TMNP covers 25 000 ha of natural areas located in the heart of Cape Town, stretching to the tip of the Cape of Good Hope.
The park has been designated a World Heritage Site since 2004 and is the most visited park in the SANParks network, with five-million visitors a year.
The RINP was created in 2007 and is a French public institution. Its territory covers 70% of the island's surface area, with a central zone that houses 94% of the island’s endemic biodiversity.
Both SANParks and RINP will contribute expertise and collaborate on improving park management. In addition, the project will mobilize partner research bodies, including the University of Reunion, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and University of Cape Town.
SANParks CEO Dr Luthando Dziba says the peer-to-peer project will allow the teams of the two parks to strengthen their capacity by exchanging experiences around park management.
“The main project activities include developing strategic plans and sharing tools for invasive species management, vulnerable species management, fire management and climate change preparedness, training, pilot field interventions, awareness raising activities and joint studies and research,” he adds.
Dziba mentions that some of the expected project impacts include more skills for the biological control of invasive alien species and associated restoration, anti-poaching and analysis of risks.
The project will also address management of climate change vulnerabilities and its consequences for the two parks.