Wild Coast Marine Protected Area’s get MPA Capacity Development Training
Capacity development for Marine Protected Area (MPA’s) personnel and community members living adjacent to these MPA’s has been a priority focus area for the WWF Honda Marine Parks Programme. Since the inception of the programme, over 138 personnel and community members have already received some form of MPA management related training that enhances the competence of responsible individuals and institutions with respect to their management of MPAs and thereby builds capacity for the management of MPAs in South Africa.
The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) indicated that they needed to familiarise new staff with MPA issues and to capacitate community members likely to participate in co-management committees in the various provincial nature reserves that adjoined MPAs. In response to this need, a five day introductory MPA management training course was developed and recently held at Morgan’s Bay within the Eastern Cape Province. Funding for this training was provided through the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund and Wildlands Conservation Trust. Ten personnel from the Pondoland, Hluleka, Dwesa-Cwebe and Amathole MPA’s attended the training together with eight community members from these MPA’s. This is the first time this introductory course has been held in South Africa.
The training sessions were facilitated by Dr Peter Fielding and Judy Mann and included formal assessment sessions together with general group tasks and discussions and topic related games and activities. The group work sessions proved to be extremely positive as they required contact between individuals from different organisations, of different ages and from different places. This resulted in an exchange of ideas, the building of relationships and networks between different management agencies, and between management agencies and community groups. Furthermore, this broadened the understanding of the problems experienced by the different groups and they are particularly useful for sharing experiences and exchanging information. During the games sessions, participants built a rocky shore ecosystem and a food web.
Almost everyone attended the course because they hoped to improve their knowledge of the marine environment or because they wanted to learn about managing MPAs and the course met the expectations of everyone. All participants said that the training helped them greatly from understanding that poaching was a serious issue through to being able to think more broadly, helping with community issues and being able to plan better and understanding how to monitor better.
The participants themselves appeared to enjoy the course, feedback was very positive, and all of them worked hard to complete their allotted tasks. Eight of them achieved the allocated credits and were clearly pleased with their results.