Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, opened the third Biodiversity Economy Indaba in East London on 8 March 2018. A press release from the department acknowledges the importance of the wildlife industry as a key contributor to SA’s economy, but also made mention of a lack of transformation in the hunting industry. Published here is a shortened version of this press release retaining the parts relevant to the wildlife industry:
Biodiversity is an economic sector in South Africa that can be tapped into to contribute to radical socio-economic transformation in South Africa.
The 3rd BEI theme is: "Entrepreneurs meets investors, for a thriving and inclusive biodiversity economy". The aim is to match the various stockholders with aspirant investors and related markets within and outside South Africa.
The Indaba brought together multiple and diverse stakeholders in the biodiversity economy, including the hunting and game farm sectors and the bioprospecting, natural products and biotrade industries.
In recent years, the biodiversity economy, which is an important contributor to job creation, has shown a constant annual growth of six percent.
Minister Molewa said transformation of the biodiversity sector, in particular, is a necessity in a changing world.
"This is more so in the context of South Africa, where policies of the past were exclusionary, thus depriving the majority of our people from actively participating in sectors of the economy. It can't be justified that the custodians of the genetic resources and equally the holders of the traditional knowledge, are treated as non-equals in the beneficiation of their resources," she said.
Government, has in response to this anomaly, developed and implements the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy which aims to promote a new generation of partnerships between communities, industry and the public sector.
Dr Molewa said this was done to realize the access, fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biological resources.
"In order to ensure a coherent approach in the implementation of this strategy, detailed plans at a three feet level were developed through the operation Phakisa Model, organised in the form of the biodiversity economy lab. This was an intense process which focused on identifying quantifiable targets centered on transformation, sustainability and economic growth, as well as the associated initiatives meant to deliver big fast results for the Bioprospecting, Wildlife and Coastal & Marine Tourism subsectors."
Among the outcomes of the Biodiversity Economy Lab held in 2016 were 15 key initiatives identified in the wildlife sector aimed at delivering a thriving and inclusive wildlife economy for the benefit of all South Africans.
This included the identification and prioritisation of land for transformation, operationalisation of biodiversity economy nodes, capacity building for community structures, and unlocking the economic potential of protected areas.
The wildlife economy is centered on game and wildlife ranching activities that relate to the stocking, trading, breeding, and hunting of game, and all the services and goods required to support its value chain. The commitment is that the wildlife economy should have contributed R5.7 billion to the economy in the form of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and created 125 000 jobs with an expansion of 10 million hectares by 2030.
Wildlife ranching or game farming in South Africa encompasses more than 9 000 wildlife ranches mostly privately owned and managed. Commercial wildlife ranches cover 16.8 % of the country's landmass, with an estimated 20 million head of game of which 16 million are found on private land and four million on state-owned land. One of the major contributors to wildlife tourism and the South African economy is the hunting industry. Besides contributing to the growth in GDP and creating job opportunities, this sector remains largely untransformed.
The wildlife economy has created over 782 jobs and has donated over 768 heads of Game as part of transformation, through various wildlife economy projects led by the previously advantaged, across the country. To date the Wildlife Economy has secured R138 million in private sector investment, whilst government has invested a further R66.6 million in the wildlife economy sector, though the Expanded Public Works Programme funding streams.
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