CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY WHILE ALLOWING RESOURCE USE: TOWARDS ACHIEVING A BALANCE IN KWAZULU-NATAL

 

Scotty Kyle
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

 

Abstract:

The Mission of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is “to ensure effective and efficient conservation and sustainable use” and yet many would suggest that this is virtually an oxymoron. It is all too easy to cite examples where the two seem incompatible and yet there are also examples where some degree of success has been achieved. Ezemvelo, and its predecessors in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), have been trying to implement this definition of conservation for several decades and, in the process, have learned many lessons, established a track record and implemented a wide variety of strategies and interventions. Ezemvelo is responsible for protecting the environment and biodiversity of the province, for the people, both inside and outside Protected Areas, but there are many clear examples where serious challenges exist and Ezemvelo’s capacity is stretched to the limit. The province’s population is growing rapidly, economic development is increasing and the amount of “natural” area outside Protected Areas is rapidly dwindling. The use of the indigenous living resources of the province was, in the past, mostly for subsistence or recreational use, but this has recently changed markedly and much is now commercial. Sometimes, where Ezemvelo management accommodated the legitimate rights and needs of rural people, a new group of commercial exploiters is now harvesting resources. While most people would subscribe to the principle of sustainable use, and it is enshrined in the South African Constitution, it is not an easy concept to fairly and confidently implement. It would be all too easy for KZN to end up with islands of preservation surrounded by large scale devastation. The situation is complex but not without hope and by reviewing Ezemvelo’s track record it is hopefully possible to plot a way forward that allows legitimate and suitable use of the natural heritage of the province yet still protects good numbers of all species and adequate areas of all habitats and ecosystems.

 

Presentation Topic
CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY WHILE ALLOWING RESOURCE USE: TOWARDS ACHIEVING A BALANCE IN KWAZULU-NATAL
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