Cape Town - SANParks and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) launched a grant agreement on Tuesday worth about R25 million between the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) and Réunion Island National Park in France, towards the preservation of biodiversity and improving park management at both parks.
At the signing ceremony hosted at Table Mountain Aerial Cableway yesterday, representatives from SANParks and AFD announced that the funds from the agreement would be used to support park actions that facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences between South Africa and Reunion Island.
Both parks have Unesco (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) world heritage status and conserved highly diverse ecosystems and cultural heritage sites of great global value.
Some joint challenges they face include invasive alien species, illegal plant harvesting, protection of threatened species, climate change, and restoration of degraded habitats.
SANParks spokesperson Lauren Howard-Clayton said the indigenous people of the Cape, the Khoisan, knew Table Mountain as Hoerikwaggo, “the mountain in the sea” as this towering mountain was found immediately adjacent to the ocean – a dramatic and remarkable feature of both TMNP and Réunion Island National Park.
ADF senior investment officer Ghislain Rieb said: “This agreement is about conservation and people. Whether we are talking about Table Mountain or the Reunion National Park, both are special natural areas within urban environments, so we have to look at the link between people and nature, and what type of approaches need to be implemented for both to coexist.
“In France and in SA, we have got different approaches to this and this agreement is about exchanging and learning from each other to better enable this coexistence.”
Rieb said they also had strong relations with the SA National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) and would be furthering other projects with them this year to also address biodiversity management.
SANParks conservation services managing executive Luthando Dziba said: “The main project activities include developing strategic plans and sharing tools for invasive species management, vulnerable species management, fire management and climate change preparedness, training, pilot field interventions, awareness-raising activities and joint studies and research.”