ERP, PROUDLY AN OFFICIAL PARTNER OF THE LIMPOPO PROVINCE: BIODIVERSITY STEWARDSHIP PROGRAMME

Biodiversity stewardship is the practice of effectively managing land-use outside the existing state-managed protected area system to ensure that natural systems, biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide are maintained and enhanced for present and future generations.

The stewardship concept is a mechanism of achieving conservation goals, where positive, proactive partnerships and cooperative management are the key ingredients of natural resources management. The cornerstone of this programme is therefore partnerships between landowners/users, conservation agencies and other related Non-Governmental Organizations.

The stewardship programme provides an ideal platform for ERP to actively engage with communities with an aim of securing additional conservation land, whilst alleviating poverty in the rural areas of the province. We are therefore very excited about partnering with the programme and providing support to the Limpopo Department of Economic Development Environment and Tourism (LEDET) and the interested communities in specific conservation focussed projects.

LEDET has confirmed that it is currently working with a number of land claimant communities or land reform beneficiaries throughout the province. The identified land reform projects are in the main previously used as game farms. These claimant communities are represented by their legal structures known as Communal Property Associations (CPA). The department has so far signed community resolution with the respective CPAs confirming their conservation course.

Most of these land reform sites are big enough to accommodate a variety of species, meaning that the projects have significant business potential. The main objective of working with the land reform beneficiaries, who are considered the new entrants to conservation, is to assist them in unlocking the opportunities in the wildlife industry and improve their livelihood.

Since the formalisation of the relationship between ERP and the LEDET Stewardship Programme, ERP has been introduced to three projects on community owned land totalling an area of approximately 50 000 hectares. ERP is excited about the opportunities which these areas present and the potential partnerships with the communities is of key importance to us.

In order to alleviate poverty in the communities surrounding conservation areas, it is critical that the private sector partners with the public sector in providing a sustainable solution to these communities. ERP intends to facilitate additional private sector involvement through an integrated investment model which will allow corporate companies to be directly involved in conservation projects, whilst relying on ERP to manage these projects with world class expertise and technologies.

The ERP team and senior officials from LEDET, formalising the stewardship relationship.

The ERP team and senior officials from LEDET, formalising the stewardship relationship.

An ERP presentation to the Mabelane CPA, one of the communities participating in the Stewardship Programme.

An ERP presentation to the Mabelane CPA, one of the communities participating in the Stewardship Programme.

Christelle Pretorius