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An inventory of natural resources harvested from national parks in South Africa

Nicola J. van Wilgen, Mbulelo Dopolo, Alexis Symonds, Wessel Vermeulen, Elzette Bester, Kyle Smith, Melodie A. McGeoch

Koedoe; Vol 55, No 1 (2013), 5 pages. doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v55i1.1096

Submitted: 12 June 2012
Published:  30 May 2013


Resource harvesting is permissible within South African protected areas under certain conditions as part of benefit sharing that seeks to strengthen relationships with communities living adjacent to parks. However, not all resource use is authorised and little is currently known about what is harvested, or the extent and impacts of harvesting in parks. This limits capacity to monitor and set the boundaries for such use. This paper provides a checklist of resources harvested within each of 19 national parks managed by South African National Parks. Data were gathered by means of a question-based survey of park staff. A database detailing the parks from which each resource was harvested and its purpose(s) was compiled, representing the most comprehensive list of resources harvested from parks to date. A total of 382 harvested biological and abiotic resources (284 terrestrial and 98 aquatic), used for a wide range of purposes, were identified across parks. Many of the resources, especially animals (96%), were harvested destructively. The strongest motivation for harvest was subsistence, although most resources were also used for financial gain through informal business. Although current data are not sufficient to determine harvest sustainability for most resources, better data and increased awareness of resource use activities will enable future research to this end.

Conservation implications: The checklist of harvested resources provides critical baseline data for parks, which will facilitate assessment of park-specific priorities for research, monitoring and management action.

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Author affiliations

Nicola J. van Wilgen, Cape Research Centre, South African National Parks, South Africa
Mbulelo Dopolo, Cape Research Centre, South African National Parks, South Africa
Alexis Symonds, Conservation Services, South African National Parks, South Africa
Wessel Vermeulen, Knysna Scientific Services, South African National Parks, South Africa
Elzette Bester, Storms River Village Conservation Services, South African National Parks, South Africa
Kyle Smith, Wilderness Scientific Services, South African National Parks, South Africa
Melodie A. McGeoch, Cape Research Centre, South African National Parks; Centre for Invasion Biology, South African National Parks, South Africa


biodiversity; conservation and development; monitoring; protected area management; resource use; sustainable harvest


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ISSN: 0075-6458 (print) | ISSN: 2071-0771 (online)

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