Effective and Informed Land Use Planning in our Landscapes! – Wehncke van der Merwe
At the end of October, the Kruger National Park held a Greater Kruger Land Use Planning Workshop in Skukuza. The workshop was guided through the Integrated Land Use Approach highlighted in KNP’s new Management Plan (2018-2028). The aim was to get the major land use planning role players around Kruger in one room in order to have a robust discussion on how we can enable land use practices in the Greater Kruger that will not compromise the ecological integrity of the area whilst also insuring that socio-economic development takes place, especially focussed on the most vulnerable communities. Over the two days 8 municipalities and 8 other organisations (including NGOs; Provincial and National Departments and a parastatal) attended. The discussions were highly informative and highlighted some key opportunities for close collaboration between SANParks and the entities that attended. The three key points raised during discussions were:
- Need for more collaborative action on ecologically sustainable socio-economic development that utilises the underlying wildlife economy and tourism industries to improve the lives of communities adjacent to the Park
- The importance of closely involving Traditional Authorities in land use planning processes
- A lot of municipalities are currently reviewing their Strategic Development Frameworks and Land Use Schemes, with them wanting the Kruger to closely participate in these processes
Going forward this workshop will inform the Greater Kruger Strategic Development Framework process that will be unfolding in the first six months of next year.
Why is land use planning important
The nexus of land use activities within a bound system (the Greater Kruger in this context) underpins its ability to provide critical ecosystem services (water; soil; landscape allowing for tourism; flood mitigation etc) to the people of that area and broader. Land use planning is thus a critical underlying factor in ensuring that important ecosystems (and the services they provide) are managed to the extent where they can continue to act as the support structure that enables the people of the Greater Kruger to thrive.