A growing concern about the environment and humankind's impact on natural resources has led many people to ask "What can I do?"
some the concern about sustainability, the energy crisis and water
scarcity has triggered a different lifestyle. Homes are geared to be
less resource intensive, and people make an effort to consume less.
people have looked with appreciation at what they have in their own
backyard. They have recognised that in order to protect the environment
in which they live, co-operation is essential. Working with others -
stakeholders in the same situation - in a collaborative manner
strengthens their ability to make a difference where they live.
are about doing something "in your own backyard". A conservancy is the
entry-level to community-based conservation. Unlike other conservation
initiatives, conservancies do not require you to set aside vast tracts
of land and to actively stock wild animals. Conservancies can be
anywhere and any size.
Conservancies may be a rural natural
area, a small space in an urban setting, a school or an industrial
plot. Wherever the land is managed according to sound environmental
principles and best environmental practices, you may register a
The first conservancy was established in 1978 in
the Balgowan district of the KwaZulu Natal Midlands and was formed by
local farmers with guidance from the Natal Parks Board. The primary
objective was to protect game on the farmlands and so this initiative
became the first to protect natural areas outside of formally protected
Since then, conservancies have contributed to the
protection of specific biodiversity hotspots, provided green corridors
for the movement of game, and protected habitats and occurrences of
rare and endangered species - plant and animal.
Of the more
unusual conservancies is the Marionhill Landfill Conservancy. This is
an excellent example of an ecosystem restoration project. Additionally,
Durban has launched Africa's first landfill gas to electricity project
at the Marianhill Landfill Conservancy. The project that converts
landfill gas to electricity, will produce enough electricity for
thousands of homes and inject tens of millions of rands into city
coffers through the sale of "green" electricity.
rural conservancies protecting specific biomes, ecosystems or species.
In Gauteng, the Klipkop Wildlife Sanctuary is a specialist buck
reserve, located on a rare and endangered type of high altitude
grassland called Bankenveld.\Bankenveld is found exclusively on South
Africa's interior plateau and centred around Johannesburg.
conservancies also protect sites of historical, archaeological and
paleontological significance. One such Conservancy is the
Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy located within the proposed buffer
zone of the Cradle of Humandkind. Some locations are "littered" with
archaeological debris, and there are dig sites where Dr Broom worked at
the time of the discovery of Mrs Ples at Sterkfontein. A linked karst
landscape underlies the northern parts of the Conservancy, and
treasures yet to be discovered are protected by residents sensitive to
the rich history underfoot.
Registration of a conservancy does
not require a change in land use. There are many farms that are part of
conservancies. An interesting example is in the Northern Cape where
farmers work to protect the most endangered mammal in southern Africa -
the Riverine Rabbit. Habitats are identified so that farming activities
avoid encroaching on the areas where the riverine rabbit is found.
are also more general activities which many conservancies share as
practical ways to make to protect the environment. These include:
- Monitoring river and catchment pollution, often leading to river cleanup activities
- Invasive alien pant control
- Education and awareness programs
- Waste recycling drives
- Identification, monitoring and protection of rare and endangered species
- Mitigation of pollution
- Erosion control
To locate a conservancy in your province, visit our website.