The managers of the world heritage site iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KZN were recently awarded the Golden Shield Award in the category of World Heritage Site of the Year, with “an impressive track record of heritage management in accordance with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).”
The award follows from the nomination as one of three global finalists in the Destination Stewardship Category in the international ‘Tourism For Tomorrow ‘ Awards 2011.
…we are gratified that the work of so many in making the iSimangaliso Wetland Park a prime destination while at the same time preserving all that is essential to South Africa’s first world heritage site has been recognised. – Andrew Zaloumis, CEO
For the 10th consecutive year since its inception, iSimangaliso has received a clean audit, a testament to its sound managerial practice.Highlights of the year so far include:
- The expansion of the higher access to education programme (to universities and technikons) bringing the total number of supported students from rural communities at universities to 45;
- The introduction of a wide range of historically occurring game into the Ozabeni Wilderness area (this part of the Park has been fenced for the first time);
- The completion of rehabilitation on five sites which had been developed illegally;
- The issuing of 46 new licences for activities, and the establishment of the only black-owned fishing charter operation in South Africa;
- iSimangaliso offered support to 92 local SMMEs and created some 2269 temporary jobs in the year as well as 50 permanent jobs;
- Revenue-share payments to claimants amounted to just over R619 000;
- The upgraded Cape Vidal camp site and a number of new hides, viewing platforms and related day-visitor facilities opened to the public (fundamentally improving the product offering in the Park);
- Four-hundred and eighty thousands visits to the Park were recorded including 137 schools during financial year 2011;
iSimangaliso Board Chairperson Mavuso Msimang said:
The new approach to conservation being implemented in iSimangaliso is laying down a solid foundation to ensure a balance is reached between conservation and the delivery of tangible benefits to its communities. In many ways it has, and is, influencing approaches to conservation practice in South Africa. iSimangaliso is also now being used as a best-practices case study for world heritage site managers by UNESCO. We are thinking – and doing – things differently.