Pretoria — In an effort to promote access to the natural beauty that South Africa has to offer, the South African National Parks (SANParks) in partnership with First National Bank (FNB) and Total South Africa, have launched the 9th National Parks Week.
The week, officially launched by the Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi, begins today and ends on Friday – 12 September.
Launched under the theme, “Know Your National Parks,” the week will allow free access to the majority of national parks under SANParks management.
The official launch was held in the Tsitsikamma section of Garden Route National Park.
Speaking at the official launch, on Monday, FNB CEO National Government and Institutional Business, Hans Hillebrand, said FNB believes in responsible actions by individuals and communities, as they are an imperative factor in protecting and managing the environment.
“The survival of the South African national parks system and our natural and cultural heritage lies in its people. As we celebrate 20 years of democracy in our country, we must applaud programmes like the National Parks Week for creating a sense of ownership of the natural heritage of South Africa in all its people,” he said.
Total South Africa, SANParks new sponsor has been part of SANParks for years and General Manager: Strategy at Total, Pansy Mekwa, said: “Total South Africa prioritises environmental conservation and we are committed to preserving the natural environment for future generations.
“We are also of the view that the ‘green’ agenda cannot be separated from the social upliftment agenda in our country. Doing our part, going out there and taking care of our environment is the best way of learning what it means to be ‘green’, and the best way for us as South Africa to remain committed to better energy”.
National Parks Week
The National Parks Week initiative was born out of the realisation that the majority of South Africa’s citizens were not visiting parks.
According to Acting Chief Executive of SANParks, Abe Sibiya, the week is there to cultivate a culture of pride in all South Africans.
“SANParks started this campaign to encourage all South Africans, especially those from the communities around the parks, to share in what SANParks envisions to be the pride and joy of all South Africans and the world.”
According to SANParks, the week is also an opportunity to showcase all national parks as key and affordable local holiday destinations which offer a unique and enlightening experience that families and individuals from all backgrounds, cultures, lifestyles and communities could enjoy.
Sibiya said free access will be granted to South African day visitors.
“This is also an effort to reach out and allow all citizens a chance to freely access something they might not have been exposed to,” he said.
Access will be granted on the presentation of valid identification documentations.
This only applies to people older than 16-years. This is also part of the effort to promote schools to visit parks during the week.
There are limitations to the visit, but these are only extended to commercial ventures within the parks, such as safari tours.
“The normal daily quota at the gates will still apply during the week and preference will be given based on first come first served basis. Know your parks and fall in love with conserving nature,” Sibiya said. – SAnews.gov.za