The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is within the Greater Kruger open system. The Reserve falls within the internationally declared Kruger 2 Canyons UNESCO Man and Biosphere, and within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA).
The Cooperative Agreement, signed on the 5th December 2018, covers the Kruger National Park (KNP) and all the open GLTFCA conservation and protected areas adjoining the KNP. It enables a cooperative, integrated and consistent management and development approach based on the five, key, management pillars of: Governance, Environmental Management, Socio Economic Benefits, Safety and Security and Land inclusion. Within the Socio-Economic Benefits pillar, key elements include development of guidelines for local economic activities, resources use, responsible tourism and environmentally responsible nature-based tourism with a view to unlock tourism opportunities and joint procurement power to the benefit of communities within the GLTFCA.
What is the Cooperative Agreement?
It is a landscape-level legal agreement amongst conservation entities (public and private) in the open Greater Kruger system. The agreement ensures that land in South Africa is protected in terms of the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act (NEMPAA) and that robust governance structures are in place for effective protected area management across the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA). In short, the Agreement ensures that national parks, nature reserves and protected environments follow common approaches towards managing nature, and the relationship between people and nature, in the Greater Kruger area.
Why do we need it?
The Agreement ensures a uniform framework for the protection, management and sharing of socio-economic benefits within our shared open system. It addresses a number of current and anticipated risks that everyone with a stake in conservation face (such as the persistence of rhino poaching). Through the Agreement, all stakeholders in the landscape now cooperate to address significant risks, to develop more opportunities and economic benefits for landowners, management authorities (such as Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Agency), and communities living within the GLTFCA.
What does it mean for the Timbavati?
According to Wayne Jackaman (Timbavati Chairperson), “The Agreement confirms what we in the Timbavati have believed for many years. Good governance is the key to sustainable protected area management. Through the Agreement, all of us sharing an invisible border within the open system get on the proverbial same page. We already see the implementation of best practices on many levels, whether it be the management of endangered species, the eradication of alien plants, maintaining fire breaks, preventing bush encroachment, enabling sustainable tourism or ensuring our neighbouring communities form part of the wildlife economy. We are here to conserve. We are here for society, for future generations.”
Edwin Pierce, Warden of Timbavati, says that as of yesterday, there is a clean sheet from which to build on. “It’s day zero. And we are all in this together. We have realised that all our blinkers must come off, and all signatories understand that we are connected in a system with many moving parts, where one will affect the other. This is a massive opportunity for integration and teamwork.”
The Associated Private Nature Reserve (APNR) represents the private land owners and operators operating in the following contiguous private reserves on the western border of the Kruger National Park in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces of South Africa, namely Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, Balule Nature Reserve, Umbabat Private Nature Reserve and Thornybush Nature Reserve. Together these reserves occupy just under 197 thousand hectares of land which is dedicated to wildlife. The APNR is a co-operative organization established to coordinate the interests of its members and to act as a single body in interacting with government entities. In 1993, fences between Associated Private Nature Reserves and the Kruger National Park were removed to encourage wildlife migration, and the Greater Kruger National Park was born.
In December 2018 a landmark Co-operation Agreement was signed with the Kruger National Park. APNR and its members are signatories to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) Cooperative Agreement for Conservation Areas.
The Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It is situated across the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa, and its borders stretch up to Zimbabwe in the north and Mozambique in the east. In 1898 it was known as the Government Wildlife Park and later it became the Sabi Game Reserve, and then the Kruger National Park in 1926.
The Kruger National Park is the core of the Kruger 2 Canyons and Vhembe UNESCO Man and Biospheres, and the core of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTP Treaty, 2002).
Kruger to Canyon Biosphere (K2C) is recognized under the UNESCO (United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Man and the Biosphere Programme. The Biosphere was registered in 2001 as a member of World network of more than 669 sites in over 120 countries. The Kruger to Canyon Biosphere Region is located on the western border of Kruger National Park, in the north-eastern part of South Africa. It covers about 2.6 million hectares.
Biosphere Reserves are regions throughout the world that host important ecosystems and protected areas adjacent to human settlements and are established to improve and promote solutions that both conserve the biodiversity and its sustainable use while considering the people around the area.
Currently the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve (TPNR) acts as a host institution under the Environmental Monitors programme. The Environmental Monitor (EM) programme was initiated in 2010 by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in response to challenges of high levels of unemployment adjacent to conservation areas, coupled with increases in illegal wildlife trade. The programme aims to increase conservation capacity within South African National Parks (SANParks), provincial and private reserves and adjacent areas towards area integrity (through monitoring, patrols and environmental education) while simultaneously improving well-being.
To date, the TPNR hosts 15 EMs which contribute to adding boots on the ground for wildlife security.