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Species Conservation key to South Africa’s local economy

By: WWF Nedbank Green Trust

South Africa is among the world’s 17 megadiverse countries containing the majority of the planet’s species and is home to iconic wildlife such as the Big 5. These animals are not only famous around the world but remain major tourism drivers, making them crucial to the local economy. 

Dr Jacques Flamand after administering antidote to sleeping rhino

For the WWF Nedbank Green Trust (the Trust), the work to ensure the sustainability of species and the resulting contribution to the local economy remains priority. Through their Rural Initiative for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) initiative at the Southern African Wildlife College, the Trust enables rural communities to benefit from protected areas by developing the necessary management, governance and financial skills.  At carefully selected project sites, the RISE team identifies which benefits are available, advises on sustainable management of natural resources and creates committees and legal structures to allow income to be distributed among communities. 

The community-owned Somkhanda Game Reserve is a great example of how communities can work together and benefit from such initiatives. Based in the Gumbi community in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Somkhanda Game Reserve is one of the first successful community-owned and -managed Big 5 conservation ventures in South Africa. Through the support and funding from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, the Gumbi community received 10% of all tourism money from the nature reserve. They allocated it to schools, crèches, clinics, cattle-dipping programmes and small-business opportunities. 

Achieving wildlife sustainability is complex. However, when managed effectively, wildlife can offer the most profitable land use with economic development potential

Achieving wildlife sustainability is complex. However, when managed effectively, wildlife can offer the most profitable land use with economic development potential. Achieving sustainability requires solutions that meet the needs of both people and wildlife. Our work extends beyond the boundaries of protected areas and lies in addressing social and economic sustainability issues as well as environmental challenges,’ says Jo Shaw, Senior Manager: Wildlife Programme at WWF South Africa.

From supporting a science-based approach to species conservation, to developing skills in community-based conservation, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust has made wide-reaching contributions to biodiversity conservation and protecting the future for wildlife. One of the benefits of the Trust’s approach is that it recognises the need to bring holistic solutions to species conservation. Species cannot be viewed in isolation as each plays a vital role in connecting and connected ecosystems. They are all indicators of the health of the processes that sustain life on Earth as well as support socioeconomic activities and human well-being.

Conservation efforts cannot be viewed in isolation: to achieve wildlife conservation and reduce biodiversity loss we must work together with scientists, citizens, business, higher-education institutions, government and non-government organisations. We must increasingly bring a multifactor, multidisciplinary and multinational mindset to species conservation and how we think about our natural resources, our protected areas, our wildlife and our people. We are grateful to the WWF Nedbank Green Trust for their commitment to addressing this challenge over the last three decades and for their visionary contribution for future generations,’ Shaw said.

Celebrating 30 years of nature conservation, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust has helped raise R300 million to support initiatives in land, fresh water, marine, climate, species and leadership.  It has been through the help of countless South Africans that the Trust has been able to support various nature conservation projects.


While species conservation continues to thrive through the work of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, South Africans are urged to play their part in contributing to a better world where people and nature can live in harmony. 

Through the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme, Nedbank has opened the doors of conservation and made it easy to support nature conservation at no cost to you. Simply open a Nedbank Green Affinity-linked credit card, current, savings or investment account and take out short-term insurance with Nedbank. Then link your Nedbank Greenbacks to the Nedbank Green Affinity via the app to support nature conservation. The more you bank and transact with Nedbank, the more money will be donated to the WWF Nedbank Green Trust on your behalf, at no cost to you.

Visit any Nedbank branch or call the Nedbank Contact Centre on 0860 555 111 for more information. You can also visit to learn more.

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