From Monday 13 September to Friday 17 September the body charged with the management of national parks in the country, South African National Parks (SANParks), will allow locals with valid identity documents an opportunity to spend a day at a national park of their choice free of charge.
The week-long campaign giving free access to the national parks will be applicable to all the national parks managed by SANParks, with the exception of Boulders in Table Mountain National Park, Tankwa Karoo and Namaqua National Parks.
According to SANParks General Manager for Media Relations, Reynold Thakhuli, the objective of the week is to cultivate a culture of pride in all South Africans in their relationship with the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage, under the established theme “Know Your National Parks”.
The idea of a national parks focus week was conceived in 2006, after a realisation that a vast majority of South Africans were not accessing the national parks.
“SANParks embarked upon 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’,” explains Thakuli.
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.
“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 Thakhuli.
FNB Public Sector Banking CEO for National Government, Yvonne Zwane, said: “The annual SA National Parks Week has been made possible with support from First National Bank since inception. “In recent years, awareness of environmental issues and the impact we have on our environment has increased greatly. At FNB we recognise the immediate and potential threats posed by global warming and other environmental issues, and have taken steps to minimise our impact on our surroundings.”
She added: “FNB has embarked on environmentally friendly initiatives such as: energy saving , that reduce the load on the Eskom grid, water conservation processes, paper saving initiatives and encouraging the use of recycled paper. This precipitates environmental impact reduction for a sustainable future through energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste re-cycling and indigenous gardens. Furthermore FNB has completed initiatives such as the development of the environmentally friendly Fairlands Building moving South Africa a step closer towards an environmentally friendly society.”
SANParks encourages all South Africans and especially educators and school groups to diarise these dates and plan a visit to a national park nearby.
For more information and activity list visit www.sanparks.org