This year South African National Parks will be presenting the 14th annual SA National Parks Week from September 8 to 15 2019 and this year the free access week has been extended to include weekends to cater to working locals.

National Parks Focus Week is a worldwide campaign which gives people free access to national parks. This annual event gives all South African citizens the opportunity to visit one of the 21 national parks without having to pay entry.

This year SANParks is even more excited to host SA National Parks Week as the country celebrates 25 years of Democracy. Every year, SANParks aims to increase the number of citizens that are granted free access to national parks during this time. Since the programme first started in 2006, some 438 361 South Africans have been afforded the opportunity to enter national parks, and SANParks is hoping that the numbers will continue to grow.

“It’s important for South Africans to visit and know the importance of national parks. They act as spaces to practice sustainable conservation, as spaces that preserve and celebrate our culture and heritage, and we now see national parks playing the critical role of empowering communities living adjacent to parks through job creation and we continue to explore ways of creating business opportunities particularly for small business owners,” says SANParks Chief Executive Officer Fundisile Mketeni.

Mketeni highlights the growing need for national parks to be relevant, particularly to young people and communities living adjacent to parks.

“Through our Socio-Economic Transformation programmes and our Expanded Public Works Programme, we work closely with communities living adjacent to national parks with the aim of strengthening our relationships with them, in order to be more inclusive so we can tackle issues of wildlife crime with their help, afford them more access to parks for cultural use, inform young people about the different career options that parks have to offer and create job opportunities. SANParks hopes to strengthen and enable those communities to reap the benefits of the national parks.”

Take advantage of the free park entry over SA National Parks Week and see what your local national nature reserve has to offer, celebrate your rich heritage, and experience first-hand the iconic beauty of our country’s diverse flora and fauna.

Visit the website for more information: www.sanparks.org/about/events/parks_week

Picture: Facebook/SANParks

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