Improving Management Effectiveness of the Protected Area Network

The GEF-5 PA Project

The project seeks to protect the biodiversity of South Africa from existing and emerging threats of degradation while improving land use and economic development of existing communities.

This website provides an overview of the project activities and shares experiences, lessons learnt and achievements the project has had since its inception in 2015. The focus is on the three project components.

Protected Area

The focus is on using low cost mechanisms for land acquisition and management in order to rapidly expand the PA network to secure globally important biodiversity, utilising formal and contractual and stewardship arrangement with private and communal landowners.

Component 1 focuses on expansion of the protected area network in seven areas that contain under-represented biodiversity features in South Africa’s three biodiversity hotspots. The expansion was aimed primarily at stewardships, partnerships and the transfer of state land within these hotspot areas.

Outcome 1: National protected area estate expanded by 197,000 ha over a baseline of 7.9 million ha, resulting in increased representation of the following globally important terrestrial habitats currently under-represented in the PA system.

This outcome addressed the critical need for expansion of the existing protected area network to include globally significant biodiversity and centres of endemism which were under-represented in the protected area system and would have been under serious threat if not addressed.

Protected Area Expansion
Improved Management Effectiveness

Improved Management

The focus is on appropriate, cost-effective and efficient co-management of the low cost PA expansion areas. Management effectiveness will be increased through integrated management planning, monitoring and evaluation and improved PA buffer zone interventions.

Component 2 focuses on improved management effectiveness of both new and existing protected areas. This was broken down into two outcomes.

Outcome 2.1: Improved protected area management effectiveness delivers enhanced protection to 1,100,000 ha of new and existing protected areas.

This outcome has capacitated protected area staff to implement robust and low cost protected area expansion. It also developed and implemented cost effective management planning, monitoring and evaluation in existing and newly expanded protected areas.

Outcome 2.2: Improved protected area management effectiveness through effective integrated interventions in buffer zones covering 100,000 ha around three national parks and/or provincial reserves through implementation of buffer zone policy and interventions including improved land use controls.

This outcome looked at the large scale piloting of buffer zone interventions in the Kruger National Park, the Dassenberg-West Coast Protected Area and the Mountain Zebra and Camdeboo National Parks.

Improved Financial

The focus is on financial sustainability through reducing costs of expansion, improving cost efficiencies and resilience of existing income streams, financial governance and strengthening benefit sharing arrangements.

Component 3 focuses on improving the financial resilience of the protected area network, and in particular (i) reducing the costs for PA expansion, and (ii) optimising income streams and revenue derived thereof and improving cost efficiencies. Reducing the costs of PA expansion and securing the financial sustainability for the management of the expanded PA network implies the need for a strong symbiotic relationship between what happens at national, agency and site-specific levels. It equally requires to move away from direct land purchases through partnership arrangements and other forms of financing. To be able to appropriately and adequately address these aspects, this component had a national (system-wide) and agency level focus with respect to the various funding, revenue and governance streams and models pertaining to how to achieve low cost protected area expansion and the financial sustainability thereof.

Outcome 3.1: PA Expansion costs per hectare reduced by 60% over a baseline of US$ 500/ha by introducing partnerships for protected area management and reducing direct purchase of state and other land for protected area expansion.

This outcome was to reduce PA expansion costs per hectare through a paradigm shift from direct purchase of land, to lower cost reserve expansion and management mechanisms in partnership with communities and private landowners, as well as utilisation of innovative expansion funding mechanisms such as offsets.

Outcome 3.2: To improve the financial sustainability of the expanded PA network by optimising and diversifying revenue streams and by improving cost efficiencies.

This outcome was to result in optimisation and diversification of income/revenue and improving cost efficiencies within protected area management agencies. Work under this outcome was to assess existing income streams, their financial governance, and benefit-sharing arrangements (i.e. the allocation and management of financial and other benefits).

Improved Financial Sustainability