This according to SANParks Acting Head of Communications: Paul Daphne, who announced the week long campaign will be giving free access to the national parks from 10th to 14th September 2012. This will be applicable to all the national parks managed by SANParks, with the exception of Boulders in Table Mountain National Park and the Namaqua National Park. Table Mountain National Park (excluding Boulders) is extending SA National Parks week until Saturday 15 September 2012 whilst Tankwa National Park and Bontebok National Park are extending the week to Sunday 16 September 2012.
According to Daphne this focus week on national parks was first hosted in 2006 after the SANParks Chief Executive Officer, Dr David Mabunda, recognised that the vast majority of South Africans were not accessing the national parks. He then embarked on a campaign to encourage all South Africans, especially those from the communities around the parks, to share in what SANParks envisions as ‘connecting to society’.
He further noted that the objective of SA National Parks Week is to cultivate a sense of understanding and pride in South Africans, of their natural, cultural and historical heritage; which is the basis for the established theme ‘Know Your National Parks’. SA National Parks Week is in its seventh year and has proved to be a successful campaign in terms of education and awareness of conservation issues.
Danny Zandamela; FNB Public Sector Banking CEO says “The annual SA National Parks Week has been made possible with support from First National Bank (FNB) since its inception. Through this partnership we are able to raise awareness on the importance of environmental education. We believe in responsible actions by individuals and communities, as an imperative factor in protecting and managing the environment and we are proud to be enablers of this initiative. “
The feature element of this campaign is the free access granted to all South African day visitors carrying their official Identity Documents. Young persons under the age of 16 will be allowed free access without the requirement of proof of identity. It must be noted that the free access to the parks will not include any commercial activities in the park such as guided safaris in vehicles or guided walks, etc.
“Environmental education and protection is the responsibility of everyone, not just a privileged few. If we are to create a sense of ownership of the natural heritage of South Africa in all South Africans, then all South Africans must be able to have access to such,” said Daphne.
“We especially want our young people to take advantage of this opportunity because this heritage will be under their protection in the near future,” added Daphne.