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Opportunity Issue 102

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).


CONSERVATION Promoting inclusivity in conservation The CEO of the North West Parks Board, Thami Matshego, explains how conservation can be aligned with economic growth and community advancement. Partnering with Stakeholders to Provide World Class WildLife Experience in a Malaria Free Environment NORTH WEST PARKS BOARD What is the mandate of the NWPB? The North West Parks Board, which is categorised as a Schedule 3C State Owned Entity in terms of Public Finance Management Act 1 of 1999, derives its mandate from the North West Parks Board Act 3 of 2015. The Entity manages and controls 15 Protected Areas (Parks) within the North West Province. Added to its primary conservation mandate, the Entity has the responsibility to ensure widened access to economic opportunities derived from its parks to historically advantaged individuals, job creation and also to ensure sound environmental management and financial sustainability in its parks. Thami Matshego, CEO, North West Parks Board THAMI MATSHEGO Thami Matshego started her career as a Veterinary Public Health Officer in the then Agricultural Corporation of Bophuthatswana (AGRICOR). She then moved to local government, serving in both local and district municipalities between the North West and Gauteng Provinces. She is no stranger to conservation management. Prior to her current appointment, she worked at the Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (DEDECT). In 2020, she marked 30 years as a civil servant with 19 years in executive management. She is currently busy with her PhD in Environmental Management with a special interest in Climate Change Adaptation. She has previously served as a member of the Mangosuthu University of Technology Council and as a board member of the Randfontein Publicity Association and the Cradle of Humankind Local Tourism Association. What do you see as the most important priority at the moment for the Board? • Maintaining and increasing conservation estate in the province: Top in our list of priorities is to increase the conservation footprint in the province. To this effect, we intend to increase land for conservation by 3 000ha per annum. This is not an easy target. The National Protected Areas Expansion Strategy (NPAES), in line with the International Union for Conservation objectives, is also saddled with the challenge of expanding its conservation footprint. This includes, among other processes, the purchase of land for inclusion in the parks and signing conservation and management agreements with adjacent property owners for their lands to be included in the management areas. • Building institutional capacity: This includes building both management and technical capacity within the entity in order to respond to emerging challenges faced by the Board, improving financial viability and infrastructure development. As part of building financial capacity, the Board is currently exploring commercialisation of tourism facilities and enterprises. This will be attained through Public Private Partnerships in order to increase revenue and by leveraging private capital and expertise in the management of its assets. • Transformation of the wildlife economy: Currently, the wildlife economy is dominated by previouslyadvantaged groups and there have been limitations to participation by members of communities staying in and around the protected areas. We have an approved 68 |

CONSERVATION outsourced. As a result, the conservation staff is freed in order to focus on the core responsibilities of conservation management. Concessionaires, who are product owners in the two parks, contribute to revenue generation for the Board. They also made a significant contribution in the protection of our biological assets. They have also invested heavily in tourism infrastructure in the park. They have also been able to create a high number of sustainable jobs in the rural areas of our country where job creation is needed the most. game-donation policy, which aims to support emerging black game farmers. • Constituency building: As the Board, we intend to create a symbiotic relationship between the Protected Areas and the communities surrounding these areas. We are intentional in contributing towards sustainable livelihoods for communities of areas adjacent to parks while increasing consciousness of conservation. What progress has been made in terms of the idea of People and Parks? The North West Parks Board established the Provincial People and Parks Steering Committee and we are working hand in hand with members of the Communal Property Associations (CPAs) to drive the People and Parks programme in the province. The Board also facilitated the participation of communities in the National People and Parks conference. Issues of mutual interests between both the CPAs and the Management Authority are discussed in our regular Co-Management Committee meetings. Unfortunately, the land restitution processes are very complex and benefits by local communities are slow and limited. For a long time, the Board did not have the necessary capacity or experience to handle the changing landownership patterns in its protected areas. This has also slowed down the benefit process. Currently, the Board is in an advanced stage in supporting CPAs in the development of tourism businesses in Pilanesberg Nature Reserve and Borakalalo Nature Reserve. Has the Board used outsourcing for the management of some facilities? In both the Pilanesberg and Madikwe Nature Reserves, which are our largest parks in the province, tourist facilities and hospitality have been SANParks is working hard to try to grow the domestic tourism market among markets that have previously not chosen game or nature reserves: is NWPB doing anything similar? The NWPB faces the same challenge as SANParks in this regard. Resultantly, the Board, through Park Mahala Week, focusses primarily on local markets. We usually target this week to hold vigorous education and awareness drives in order to encourage locals to visit our parks. Together with our stakeholders, we have a social-media programme that showcases our tourism offerings. We also work very closely with the North West Tourism Board and our mother department to market our local tourism. Does NWPB have training programmes? We have an approved bursary policy for employees of the Board. We also have an internship programme which has attracted conservation students and researchers from some of the most prestigious universities in the country. We have also partnered with international research institutions for the purpose of advancing research work in our rich biodiversity sector of the province. Please describe how you became involved with the NWPB. My areas of strength are in management and administration within environmental services. My years of experience in building environmental capacity at local government has been my strong value proposition. Were there particular obstacles you faced in this sector, as a woman? The conservation sector in South Africa has been largely male dominated, for instance hunting has been dominated by white males. Over the years, there has been an acceptance of women in the sector, even though not in an optimal pace. However, we are making progress. Can more be done to encourage women to take up careers in conservation? The Board espouses the provincial government’s gender-mainstreaming programmes. There is also an approved employment equity plan whose aim is to ensure equal opportunities for women in both technical and managerial positions in the workplace. We also support and participate in various youth imbizos in order to raise awareness about career opportunities in nature conservation and biodiversity management. Contact details: North West Parks Board Tel: +27 18 012 0100 | Fax: +27 18 397 1649 | Email: | Website: | 69

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