South African Wildlife College-BIOPAMA Collaboration Benefits Protected Area and Conservation Staff

15 September 2015

The South African Wildlife College (SAWC) is a unique and dynamic college that is synonymous with conservation education, training and skills development. The college targets protected area practitioners of all kinds to ensure that they are well equipped for the ever changing challenges in this field. Acknowledging the link between protected areas and natural resource management, the college takes a holistic approach which considers community relations, conflict resolution, project planning, and financial control. Following training offered by BIOPAMA in Eastern and Southern Africa, the College is adding negotiation skills training into their capacity development offer.

The college aims to maintain relevance to the region’s needs and this year participated in a Training of Trainers programme on Negotiation Skills Training for Practitioners which was organized by the EU-ACP funded Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme.  Stakeholders were trained in applying the Mutual Gains Approach (MGA) to negotiation, an approach that Ms van der Walt, a Senior Advisor at the SAWC and participant at the  BIOPAMA Training of Trainers, finds “very useful for the SAWC as we train a lot of staff who interact with communities across National Parks in the region where the need for negotiation skills is very high”.

Soon after attending the training, Ms van der Walt indicated that “Integrating this type of training would be very beneficial in terms of communications skills; it will be like an extra toolset that the course will offer participants when they go into negotiations”. She expressed the college’s intentions to also include the MGA approach as part of its Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) Programme which focuses on people’s livelihoods and this will soon become a reality as such a course has now been scheduled by the college.

Training at the college is not only targeted at those  careers in protected areas management, but also at conservation managers and field staff in national, regional and private reserves and also  managers of Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas. The SAWC thrives on the use of practical participatory approaches used in conjunction with group discussions and lecture sessions. Noting the dynamic nature of training needs, the college has a small pool of lecturers complemented by outsourced relevant and adequately trained staff to suit specific training requirements. 

The SAWC has two full qualifications accredited with the Department of Higher Education and registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) namely the Higher Certificate in Nature Conservation Implementation and Leadership (NQF 5) and the Advanced Certificate in Trans-frontier Conservation Management (NQF 6). Training programmes are constantly revised in response to training needs analyses.

Apart from longer accredited qualifications the SAWC also offers short term skills training programmes as well as some short courses on a range of conservation and environmentally related topics. In her review after attending the training of trainers workshop, Ms van der Walt emphasized the importance of negotiation training not only for the practitioners but for the communities they work with to empower them to negotiate on their own behalf and hence the need to integrate this type of training within their flagship CBNRM short course.

Six countries from the region attended the training of trainers workshop organized by BIOPAMA earlier in 2015 and the SAWC is the first to take it a step further by organizing their own training on Negotiation Skills based on the BIOPAMA course.

The course will be held at the SAWC from 18th – 24 October 2015. For more information and to apply, contact Marilize van der Walt ([email protected]).

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