One of the many legacies left behind by the great Nelson Mandela will be his attention to conservation issues and his awareness of the role these issues play in society. In honor of his life, I thought I would highlight one of his many laudable projects today, one that brought together the dual challenges of conservation and peace.
Dr. Nelson Mandela, who passed away on 6 December 2013, was a founding member of the Peace Parks Foundation, together with Dr Anton Rupert and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.
In Dr. Mandela’s words: “I know of no political movement, no philosophy, no ideology, which does not agree with the peace parks concept as we see it going into fruition today. It is a concept that can be embraced by all.
“In a world beset by conflicts and division, peace is one of the cornerstones of the future. Peace parks are a building block in this process, not only in our region, but potentially in the entire world.”
Peace parks are also known as transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs). The Southern African Development Community(SADC) Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement of 1999 defines a TFCA as “the area or component of a large ecological region that straddles the boundaries of two or more countries, encompassing one or more protected areas as well as multiple resource use areas”.
The Protocol commits the SADC Member States to promote the conservation of shared wildlife resources through the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas.
From the Peace Parks Foundation website: “The establishment and development of peace parks is a dynamic, exciting and multi-faceted approach to jointly manage natural resources across political boundaries.
“Peace parks are about co-existence between humans and nature, about promoting regional peace and stability, conserving biodiversity and stimulating job creation by developing nature conservation as a land-use option.”