Monday, January 05, 2009

Beach Driving?



Report No.: AB1767

Project Name

Development, Empowerment and Conservation in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and Surrounding Region




General agriculture, fishing and forestry sector (100%)

Project ID


GEF Focal Area




Implementing Agency

Environment Category

[ ] A [X] B [ ] C [ ] FI [ ] TBD (to be determined)

Date PID Prepared

August 5, 2005

Estimated Date of Appraisal Authorization

June 18, 2006

Estimated Date of Board Approval

March 20, 2007

  1. Key development issues and rationale for Bank involvement

The St Lucia Greater Wetlands Park (GWP), on South Africa’s Northeast coast, is a natural and cultural asset of local and global significance, located in Kwazu Natal, one of the poorest provinces of the country. Its biodiversity and cultural resources have been recognized globally (made the World Heritage List in December 1999; contains 4 of the 15 Ramsar Sites in South Africa; and forms the largest and best-protected area in the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Biodiversity Hotspot). GWP also forms the core of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative (LSDI), a trilateral regional program aimed at stimulating development in a severely impoverished zone encompassing northern KwaZulu-Natal, southern Mozambique and eastern Swaziland.

However, the long term sustainability of GWP, as a natural and economic asset capable of driving local development, is under threat. The Maputaland region as a whole and the areas neighboring the GWP in particular, include some of the least developed districts in SA. In addition, as a consequence of the forced displacement of people during the apartheid era--leading among other things to overcrowded and environmentally degraded tribal lands adjoining large protected areas--former land occupants have lodged claims in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act 1994 against approximately 90% of the Park. Pioneering agreements settling the three major claims affecting 60% of the Park’s surface area giving title to the claimants were recently signed.

Within a regional context of severe underdevelopment and poverty, major risks to GWP include: disrupted ecological terrestrial and wetlands processes; increasingly unsustainable land use practices (including on privately owned commercial farmland and communally owned subsistence farmland); large-scale commercial afforestation in endemic grasslands and water catchments on the Park’s fringes; the presence of commercially attractive mineral deposits in coastal dunes; and the spread of invasive alien plants along the coast line and in the valleys of the Lubombo Mountains.

Government of South Africa has requested Bank assistance in developing a GEF co-financed project to improve the conservation of the globally important biodiversity within GWP, and support the actions of conservation agencies and local government authorities aimed at poverty alleviation for vulnerable rural households living with degraded natural resources around the Wetlands Park. Therefore, the proposed project responds to government request and is fully consistent with the Bank’s Environment Strategy and regional development priorities in Southern Africa, as well as the priorities of the Bank’s South Africa Country Program which seek to promote higher growth and employment, as well as foster social and environmental sustainability.

  1. Proposed objective(s)

The overall objective of the project is to assist the Wetlands Park Authority – the dedicated management authority created when the Park was proclaimed in 2000– and local government implement a long-term initiative to protect the exceptional biodiversity of the greater St Lucia wetland area through conservation, sustainable resource use, rational land-use planning, and local economic development. The challenge faced by the Wetlands Park and local authorities is to respond to the twin imperative of conservation and development in a manner that aligns with the shift in national (and global) priorities from a strong focus on conservation-in-isolation to a new approach that integrates biodiversity conservation with regional development. Unless its poor rural neighbors see GWP as a source of employment and other tangible benefits, the political support required for its continued existence will be severely eroded. The need to optimize the flow of tangible benefits from GWP to its neighboring communities (estimated about half a million people within 20 km around the Park area) is therefore both an economic but and a conservation imperative.

Performance Indicators. Achievement of project objectives will be measured by indicators in three main areas: (i) ecologically, through the restoration of critical habitats and rehabilitation of important processes, as well as the establishment of coherent data acquisition and monitoring systems; (ii) institutionally, through enhanced capacity of the Wetlands Authority, interagency coordination, and integration of the Park’s Management Plan with the local government’s IDPs; and (iii) socio-economically, through “ownership” of local area plans, and improved benefit flows to local communities.

  1. Preliminary description

Component 1: Enhancing biodiversity and ecosystems functioning (estimated cost $40.5 million; GEF contribution: $6 million): This component would finance: (a) Support for habitat restoration and rehabilitation of important ecological processes, focusing on: indigenous wildlife; coastal dunes; management alien invasive species; bush encroachment, and rare swamp forests; (b) Support for catchment management and hydrological processes critical for maintaining the Wetland Park’s integrity, focusing on: ecological flow requirements (EFR), the functioning of the St Lucia estuary; small-scale buffer zone forestry; and catchment management (erosion, siltation, pollution, and water management); and (c) Support for a wildlife protection program, in collaboration with local communities, focused on: illegal developments and poaching; visitor activities; and sustainable fish harvesting for livelihood support to neighboring communities.

Component 2: Promoting local economic and cultural development (estimated cost $9m; GEF contribution: $2.5m). This component would finance:(a) Economic empowerment of local communities, through formal ownership or equity interests by disadvantaged communities in the Park’s productive assets; involvement of communities in core Park activities (management, employment, enterprise linkages between the economic activities of the Park and suppliers of goods and services); a land claims support program, designed to build the skills and capacity of restitution beneficiaries to participate in the development and management of the Park; and implementation of a sustainable resource use programs, both within and around the Park; (b) Capacity building of local communities, including: a tourism-skills program; a comprehensive Cultural Heritage management program; and a natural resource use planning and monitoring program; and (c) Strengthening the service delivery capacity of local government, through implementation of a training and awareness program with district council and local municipalities to achieve alignment and integration between the Park’s Integrated Management Plan, and the local government’s IDPs

Component 3: Strengthening institutions for sustainable development (estimated cost $4m; GEF contribution: $1m). The Wetlands Park Authority operates within a highly complex legal and institutional environment, involving a large number of government agencies and other stakeholders. The Park falls within the Umkhanyakude District Municipality, which is subdivided into five smaller local municipalities. The Wetlands Park is a separate District Management Area. The proposed project will build consensus regarding approaches, provide support for the co-ordination of policies across all sectors, and assist with the definition of institutional responsibilities for co-ordination, project approval, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. More specifically, this component would finance: (a) Strengthening the institutional capacity of the Wetlands Park Authority, through staff training and management capacity. It is envisaged that the project will be managed in-house, reporting directly to the Authority’s CEO, under the supervision of a Stakeholders Steering Committee; (b) Strengthening the institutional capacity and coordination with other key agencies, including ZKN Wildlife, Agriculture, Land Affairs, Water Affaires and Forestry, local and district municipalities, as well as with local communities and NGOs; (c) Development and implementation of regional and site-specific community-driven local area plans, consistent with the Park’s Integrated Management Plan and local IDPs; and (d) Development of an integrated M & E system, including: information database and analytical and GIS-based mapping tools; socio-ecological data acquisition (through annual surveys); and establishment of a project performance monitoring and evaluation system; and (e) Incremental support for project management.

  1. Safeguard policies that might apply

From an environmental point of view, the project is expected to have mostly significant benefits, in terms of conservation and rehabilitation of key ecological process within the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park. However, because of the need for a sound baseline assessment that would allow tracking changes over time, as well activities related to estuary and catchment management, a basic environmental assessment would be warranted.

From a social point of view, the Wetlands Authority’s SEED program will be considerably strengthened through the project in order to deliver significant social and economic benefits. However, because many of the envisaged conservation and ecological rehabilitation activities, both with the Park and in its buffer zone, might involve change or access restrictions to the Park’s resources by local communities, or even potential resettlement, a detailed social assessment, and extensive consultations will be required, during both project preparation and implementation.

Therefore, the project environmental assessment is “B.” Under the Bank’s program to pilot the use of borrower safeguards systems, the Bank is considering the potential use of South African systems to address environmental and social safeguard issues in this project in any or all of the following areas: (a) environmental assessment, (b) natural habitats, (c) resettlement, and (d) cultural property. Before a final determination is made of the areas for piloting, diagnostic work will be undertaken to assess (i) the equivalence of South African systems and World Bank requirements and (ii) the acceptability of implementation practices, track record and capacity of the agencies involved. For the areas selected for piloting, OP/BP 4.00 Piloting the Use of Borrower Systems to Address Environmental and Social Safeguards Issues in Bank-Supported Project will apply. In the event that the Bank decides not to use borrower systems in one or more of these areas, the relevant operational policies will apply to the areas not selected for piloting: (a) OP/BP 4.01 Environmental Assessment, OP 4.04 Natural Habitat, OP/BP 4.12 Involuntary Resettlement, and OPN 11.03 Cultural Property."

  1. Tentative financing









  1. Contact point

Contact: Aziz Bouzaher

Title: Lead Environmental Specialist, ESSD Cluster Leader

Tel: 27-12-431-3119 (World Bank Pretoria)

Fax: 27-12-431-3134


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