R25m in funding for park partnership

The South African National Parks and the Agence Française de Dévéloppement have entered into a partnership to promote knowledge and experience sharing between South Africa and Reunion Island.

Through the agreement the Table Mountain National Park and Reunion Island National Park will receive funding to the tune of 1.5 million Euros (about R25 million). AFD’s financial support to SANParks is to the value of R20 023 404.25 while Reunion Island National Park will receive R4 744 427.79.

Members of SANParks and AFD at Table Mountain.

The agreements were signed by Rémy Rioux, chief executive officer of the AFD, and Dr Luthando Dziba, the acting chief executive officer of SANParks.

“Biodiversity conservation is one of France’s priorities,” said Aurélien Lechevallier, the French ambassador to South Africa.

Held, every four years, France hosted the most recent World Conservation Congress in 2021.

“Through this exemplary regional co-operation project, France is providing concrete support for the preservation of biodiversity in southern Africa and the Indian Ocean,” Mr Lechevallier said.

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. Reunion National Park covers 70% of Reunion Island’s surface area with a central zone that houses 94% of the island’s diverse endemic biodiversity. Both parks have UNESCO world heritage status.

The project will enable new collaboration opportunities with partner research bodies including the University of Reunion and the University of Cape Town.

According to Dr Dziba, this peer-to-peer project will allow the teams from 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,” Dr Dziba said.