Peace Parks Foundation

The Donald Gordon Foundation committed R 10 million to the Peace Parks Foundation and, consequently, is a member of Club 21. In order to establish a secure financial base for the Foundation PPF’s three founders, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Nelson Mandela and Dr Anton Rupert established Club 21. Club 21 is the Foundation's main international support base and aims to have at least 21 members who will each donate a substantial sum to the work of the Foundation. It is thus a club for those concerned with peace through conservation in the 21st Century.

The origin of Peace Parks Foundation:

On 27 May 1990, Anton Rupert, President of WWF South Africa (then called the Southern African Nature Foundation) had a meeting in Maputo with Mozambique's President Joaquim Chissano, to discuss the possibility of establishing a permanent link between some of the protected areas in southern Mozambique and their adjacent counterparts in South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The concept of trans-border protected area co-operation through the establishment of peace parks was however already internationally accepted. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) had long been promoting their establishment because of the many associated benefits. In 1988, the IUCN's Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas had identified at least 70 protected areas in 65 countries which straddle national frontiers. As a result WWF South Africa was requested to carry out a feasibility study, which was completed and submitted to the Government of Mozambique in September 1991. The report was discussed by the Mozambican Council of Ministers, who recommended further studies to assess fully the political, socio-economic and ecological aspects of the feasibility study. The Government of Mozambique then requested the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of The World Bank to provide assistance for the project, which was granted. The first mission was fielded in 1991, and in June 1996 The World Bank released its recommendation in a report entitled Mozambique : Transfrontier Conservation Areas Pilot and Institutional Strengthening Project.

The report suggested an important conceptual shift away from the idea of strictly protected national parks towards greater emphasis on multiple resource use by local communities by introducing the transfrontier conservation area (TFCA) concept. In short, TFCAs (or peace parks), were defined as relatively large areas that straddle frontiers between two or more countries and cover large-scale natural systems encompassing one or more protected areas. Very often both human and animal populations traditionally migrated across or straddled the political boundaries concerned. In essence, TFCAs therefore extend far beyond designated protected areas, and can incorporate such innovative approaches as biosphere reserves and a wide range of community-based natural resource management programmes (World Bank, 1996). (PPF subsequently adopted this new paradigm.)

As a result of the political constraints prevalent in southern Africa at the time of the initiation of the GEF-funded programme in Mozambique, only limited attention could be given to the development of formal links between the three main participating countries, i.e. Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and unfortunately this persisted throughout the duration of the study. Two years after the election of Nelson Mandela, South Africa was experiencing a rapid and significant growth in its nature-based tourism industry, but very few of the benefits associated with this growth were being made available to Mozambique. These concerns prompted Anton Rupert to request another meeting with President Chissano, which was held on 27 May 1996. At this meeting, Rupert emphasised the significant economic benefits that could accrue to Mozambique if the proposed TFCAs involving Mozambique were implemented. The Maputo discussions were followed by a Transfrontier Park Initiative meeting in the Kruger National Park on 8 August 1996 under the joint Chairmanship of Mozambique's Minister of Transport and Communications, Paulo Muxanga, and South Africa's Minister of Transport, Mac Maharaj, where it was agreed that the two countries, together with Zimbabwe and Swaziland, should co-operate to realise the economic benefits of the proposed TFCAs.

Towards the end of 1996, it became clear that interest in the peace park concept was not only growing within the countries mentioned, but also in other neighbouring states. For the first time, southern Africa as a whole was being seen as a tourist destination, and an integral part of this vision was the development of TFCAs or peace parks. There was a growing recognition that tourism could be the one industry with the potential to become the economic engine that would create the jobs that were so urgently needed on the subcontinent.

The Executive Committee of WWF South Africa came to the conclusion that, unless a separate body was set up to co-ordinate, facilitate and drive the process of TFCA establishment and funding, these peace parks would not receive the attention that was required to make them a reality. Accordingly, the Peace Parks Foundation was established on 1 February 1997 with an initial grant of R1,2 million (US$ 260,000) from the Rupert Nature Foundation to facilitate the establishment of TFCAs in southern Africa as a first area of focus.

The Peace Parks Foundation has been constituted and established in South Africa as an association incorporated under Section 21, i.e. a company 'not for gain'. The Foundation has virtually all the powers of a normal company, but cannot have shareholders, and no profits can be paid to supporting members or Directors. The Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors under the Chairmanship of Dr Anton Rupert, and has seven Honorary Patrons, namely President Mogae (Botswana), His Majesty King Letsie lll (Lesotho), President Muluzi (Malawi), President Chissano (Mozambique), President Nujoma (Namibia), King Mswati lll (Swaziland), and unfortunately Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe). Nelson Mandela (South Africa) is Patron Emeritus of the Foundation. To assist with technical advice in the transfrontier conservation process and to provide a forum for discussion of significant cross-border issues, the Peace Parks Foundation has also constituted an Advisory Committee and invited representatives from the wildlife authorities of the SADC countries to serve in an ex officio capacity on this body. The members of the Advisory Committee are: Khulani Mkize (Chief Executive, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife); Walter Kanhanga (Actg. Director: Zimbabwe Dept of National Parks & Wildlife Management); Holger Kolberg (Specialist Support Services, Namibia Ministry of Environment & Tourism); Arlito Cuco (National Director, Mozambique Directorate of Forestry & Wildlife); Joseph Matlhare (Director: Botswana Wildlife & National Parks); Lota Melamari (Director General, Tanzania National Parks); Sedia Modise (Facilitator, Limpopo/Shashe TFCA); P K Motholo (Principal Secretary, Lesotho National Environment Secretariat); Mavuso Msimang (Chief Director, South African National Parks); George Kampamba (Director: Operations & Research, Zambia Wildlife Authority); Leonard Sefu (Director, Malawi National Parks & Wildlife Dept), Jameson Vilikati (Director: Swaziland Environment Authority), and Sinaye Mamba (Chief Executive Officer : Swaziland National Trust Commission).