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Engaging local communities in the conservation of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage site

Mobilizing the COMPACT initiative

© OUR PLACE The World Heritage / Geoff Mason

Local communities and indigenous peoples are, and have been for centuries, the custodians of many World Heritage sites.

Launched in the year 2000, the Community Management for Protected Areas Conservation (COMPACT) is a partnership initiative between the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) and the United Nations Foundation (UNF) aimed to demonstrate how community-based initiatives can significantly increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in globally important protected areas, while helping to improve the livelihoods and wellbeing of local people.

The transboundary Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage site, composed of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park in South Africa and the Sehlabathebe National Park in Lesotho, is renowned for its spectacular natural landscape, its importance as a haven for many threatened and endemic species, as well as its wealth of rock paintings that represent the spiritual life of the San people over a period of 4000 years. The local communities that inhabit this landscape today are important contemporary custodians of the site and its natural and cultural values.


Vision

The Outstanding Universal Value of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage site is maintained through the flow and realization of both tangible and intangible benefits to local communities as stewards of these features.

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COMPACT initiative

COMPACT is an innovative model for engaging communities in conservation and shared governance of World Heritage sites and other protected areas.

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Results

Implementation of the 2018-2022 Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site (MDP WHS) COMPACT Site Strategy through small grants to support clusters of community-based activities.

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Vision

Recent policy and conceptual developments in World Heritage, and in conservation generally, set the stage for new approaches that engage indigenous and local communities in caring for World Heritage.

The inclusion of communities as one of the five Strategic Objectives in the World Heritage Convention (the 5 C’s) reflects an increasing demand for community engagement at all stages of the World Heritage process, and for rights-based approaches that link conservation and sustainable development. By the adoption of the World Heritage policy on sustainable development, the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention have acknowledged the great potential of World Heritage to contribute to inclusive social and economic development, environmental sustainability, peace and security.

By endorsing the COMPACT community conservation programme, the Maloti-Drakensberg Park is making headway towards putting into action this landmark policy, which aims at improving the quality of life of local communities.

COMPACT initiative

COMPACT is an innovative model for engaging communities in conservation and shared governance of World Heritage sites and other protected areas.

The Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation (COMPACT) initiative is an innovative model for engaging communities in conservation and shared governance of World Heritage sites and other protected areas and is based on the proposition that community-based initiatives can significantly increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in World Heritage sites while helping to improve the livelihoods of local people’. With an emphasis on complementing and adding value to existing conservation programmes, COMPACT supports clusters of community-based activities that are intended to strengthen biodiversity conservation and support sustainable livelihoods in and around protected areas.

Today, COMPACT is working with an increasing number of World Heritage sites around the world, notably in Africa, with over one million beneficiaries and more than 400 small grants awarded to community-based activities in the World Heritage land- and seascapes.

Results

The Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage site COMPACT Site Strategy is a product of synchronization of parallel consultation processes that took place in the two countries co-managing the site (Lesotho and South Africa).


2018-2022 Maloti-Drakensberg Park
World Heritage Site (MDP WHS)
COMPACT Site Strategy

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Adapting from the COMPACT planning framework, a set of three reports were developed for each country: a  baseline assessment, a conceptual model and a strategy report. These in turn informed the formulation of a joint COMPACT Site Strategy. This work was made possible through the commitment of the UNDP country offices and the site management institutions, namely Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlife and the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture of Lesotho as implementing partners to the programme.

The COMPACT initiative in the Maloti-Drakensberg Park was initiated thanks to the financial support of the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences through the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust cooperation, UNDP Lesotho, Small Grants Programme Lesotho, Small Grants Programme South Africa and the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Project, and led to the adoption of the  COMPACT site strategy. Funding from the Government of Norway is enabling the implementation of thestrategy through a set of community-based activities such as on sustainable land management, climate-resilient agricultural practices,  participatory fire management and ecosystem restoration. Revitalization of the local groups to support monitoring of the rock art sites is also foreseen, harnessing traditional knowledge and enhancing people’s access to and benefits from their culture.

Partners

UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme
Netherlands Funds-in-Trust
Government of Norway