The marriage of conservation and human development has never been a happy one; historically the one has usually been accomplished at the expense of the other one. Conservation has excluded human development and has sometimes compromised it, while human development has often been achieved at the expense of non-renewable natural resources.
In the past protected areas have been considered a luxury destination for the elitist, while to the poor, they are seen, as places were land has been selfishly locked up, where communities cannot graze their cattle, plant crops or utilise other resources available. More and more pressure is being placed on these conserved areas to provide an economic or social value to society. Protected areas have never been high on the list for providing tangible economic values. Conservation was based purely on biological aspects alone, without considering the benefits to the economy and to the human race’s well being.
If we are wanting to see protected areas maintained and expanded within the Cape Floristic Kingdom (CFK), there needs to be a great deal of public involvement. The public and in particular those communities that wish to develop and expand protected areas will have to be sensitised to the real value of such areas.
Nature based tourism is attracting increasing numbers of visitors to the CFK and is the fastest growing sector within the economy. This in turn is providing sustainable benefits to communities, increased incentives for ongoing conservation and a contribution to the costs of managing the natural resource base of the industry, which ultimately acts as a stimulus to the regional economy. Protected areas are paramount to this industry as providing the backdrop to the awe-inspiring scenery of the CFK, as well as being the source of the tremendous biodiversity, which attracts visitors.