The previous quarter presented many changes to the small but dynamic Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) Unit. At the end of February, we bid farewell to three colleagues; Linda Hlengwa, Martha Themba and Vutomi Mnisi.  

The former two colleagues left as the Unit’s GT5213 Project drew to a close. The project funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature-South Africa through the WWF Nedbank Green Trust Fund,  supported the Unit’s operations from April 2015 – February 2019. The long-term goal of this project was to develop a model at SAWC that allows genuine community participation in the wildlife sector in and beyond South Africa.  

The financial support received enabled the SAWC develop the following key project areas:

  • Establishing four key pilot sites as models for Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) associated with critical conservation areas in South Africa.
  • Produce performance-based training systems, curricula and tools for different levels and actors in CBNRM.
  • Develop CBNRM practitioners at different levels in National and Provincial conservation agencies in South Africa, as well as within the private sector and communities, and most importantly
  • Build a technically and financially sustainable CBNRM Unit with ongoing staff development

These colleagues were instrumental in managing long-term sites in Mozambique, KwaZulu Natal and Makuleke, whilst also presenting some (CBNRM, Community Development and Conservation & Stakeholder Engagement) modules to the HET students. The implementation of this project alongside the UK-IWT Challenge Fund, funded project as well as United for Wildlife supported by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex funded projects, have been seminal within the Unit and the College in furthering their understanding of the social dimensions of conservation.  These projects have enabled the institution to build relationships with communities, implementers and new stakeholders.

RISE team and Nelisiwe Vundla ( Facilitating) in Mozambican village
Sabie Game Park Village Scouts pictured with project facilitation team, Mucacaza villagers in the background.
Mangalane, and Mucacaza community members on a transboundary learning exchange ( pictured at the Skukuza indigenous plant nursery)

The RISE Unit wishes to extend its heartfelt appreciation for the financial and technical support received from these donors, and looks forward to further collaboration in the future.