The process to identify a Community Conservation Area (CCA) incorporating a Wilderness Area

Wilderness in the proposed CCA - from the little known MaSwazini area

Discussion and consultation on a conserved area, incorporating a Wilderness Area, first started in the (AmaNgwane) Mnweni and AmaZizi areas 14 years ago in response to community interest in nature-based and cultural conservation activities which had started during a consultative process, begun in 1996. The formation of community wilderness, cultural and donga reclamation groups added impetus to the growing interest and a series of Wilderness Seminars in 2005 and 2006 produced a unique synthesis of western and indigenous concepts of wilderness and its spiritual value.

Ideas on wilderness from community groups who attended the seminars

The Seminars culminated in the creation of a draft Management Plan for a wilderness buffer boundary and the identification of a buffer boundary by community groups, taking into account planning principles used in the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS), a planning tool in use at that time by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. In terms of ROS a wilderness buffer boundary was identified and allowed for a gradation of wilderness quality from Semi-Primitive, to Primitive and Pristine Wilderness areas. Identification of a CCA boundary was undertaken by groups of community people who GPS'd a wilderness buffer boundary between Royal Natal and Cathedral Peak.

For the next few years community groups could be seen traversing the mountains between Royal Natal and Cathedral Peak to GPS a wilderness buffer boundary which ultimately formed the boundary of the proposed 45,000ha Community Nature Reserve and Wilderness Area (CCA).

The following photographs capture moments of the two-year process of CCA identification which was a collaborative effort between four mountain wards of the AmaZizi and five mountain wards of the AmaNgwane.

Setting off from Royal Natal

Setting up the first of many camps for the night (Obonjaneni)

A weary group after a long trip: Okhombe

Intense discussion as to whether the boundary should
be 50m to right or 50m to the left (Khokwana)

"Ihlane! (Wilderness!)" : Buffer boundary Ngoba

View from part of Ngoba wilderness

Over the past three years further consultation and workshops with a wide range of community sectors gained acceptance of a CCA between Royal Natal and Cathedral Peak. The CCA also gained support from the Amakosi (chiefs) of both the AmaNgwane and AmaZizi areas and is currently following a process of further interaction with the leadership of both areas for final proclamation of the CCA. Effectively this means that there would be a formally conserved area, linking the two sections of the Maloti-Drakensberg World Heritage Site, between Royal Natal and Cathedral Peak, thus closing the existing gap in the World Heritage Site.

Mountain wards contributing a portion of their land to the CCA:
AmaZizi: Obonjaneni (bordering Royal Natal), Busingatha, Okhombe, Nkosini
AmaNgwane: Manzana, Mabhulesini, Khokwana (comprising "the Mnweni"), MaSwazini, Ngoba.

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