SA's biodiversity economy negatively affected by pandemic

Thursday, November 25, 2021

South Africa’s biodiversity economy has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and this has had an impact on both domestic and international travel and tourism.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa’s hunting industry generated R2 billion from foreign hunters and nearly eleven and a half billion rand from the domestic hunting market,” Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, said on Wednesday.

Addressing the Custodians of Professional Hunting and Conservation annual general meeting, the Minister expressed concern about the impact ongoing resurgences of the pandemic will have on this sector, although the sector has recorded a gradual recovery.

“Of equal concern is the fact that we know that many ecosystems in the country and the region are facing severe degradation leading to a decline in biodiversity and the impairment of ecosystem functions and services including fresh water provisioning, climate regulation, disease control, and ecotourism.

“Accordingly as government and industry we have a common concern to work together to overcome these medium and long term challenges. In May next year, we hope to see the adoption at COP 15 at Kuming in China, of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework,” the Minister said.

The framework presents an important opportunity to reach consensus at an international policy level on how to address biodiversity loss and through conservation and restoration efforts, avail nature benefits to people and future generations.

South Africa’s approach at Kuming will support the balanced treatment of the objectives of the Convention on Biodiversity, namely Conservation, Sustainable use and fair and equitable benefit sharing.

Government will also advance a position that promotes the protection of ecosystems, species and genetic diversity while meeting human needs and pursuing equitable benefit sharing.

The Minister called on the industry to play an important role is through collaborating with emerging farmers to transform the industry and support new entrants to run their businesses on sound ecological principles.

“I remain firmly of the belief that the key to achieving sustainable conservation in our country lies in overcoming the major barriers rural communities face in access and benefit sharing in the biodiversity economy. 

“I therefore ask your association to take the national transformation agenda into your fold and lead the charge to empower and support Previously Disadvantage Individuals and communities to participate meaningfully in the wildlife and hunting value chains,” the Minister said. –