The Local Boards are appointed by the Minister of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development after a public participation process, the objectives of the Local Boards are to promote local decision making regarding the management of nature conservation and heritage resources within protected areas as well as to promote the integration of the activities of the protected area into that of the surrounding area. The powers of these forums are prescribed by the policies, norms and standards determined by the KwaZulu - Natal Nature Conservation Board which is responsible for biodiversity conservation throughout KwaZulu - Natal within and outside protected areas.
Another important aspect of the Local Boards is to influence decision making through their powers to compile and monitor the implementation of management plans for protected areas. These management plans must amongst other things promote the development needs of the people living in or adjacent to the protected areas, regularly liaise on behalf of the communities on issues pertaining to land reform with the department of rural development and land affairs, promote educational programmes, and determine local policies including resource management and zonation, the development of ecotourism and scientific research.
Community Levy Fund Programme, established in 1998 with the overall aim of strengthening community participation in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife programmes as well as adding value to the communities living adjacent to the protected areas by giving them benefit directly from tourism activities. When visitors come to our establishments they pay a portion of their spending to a community levy which is collected to fund community driven initiatives. Over the years this fund has grown and funded a number of community initiatives which range from building additional classrooms at needy schools, to the establishment of crèches, construction of community halls, economic generation initiatives on behalf of the communities. The most recent being the Nselweni Bush Camp which is located at Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park wholly belonging to 10 traditional authorities living adjacent to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park.
The Local Boards play an important role in ensuring that the community needs are best addressed through this programme. They hold public participation meetings which help facilitate the applications process to access these funds and liaise with relevant communities to ensure that the end result is agreed to by the communities concerned. The introduction of these forums will undoubtedly contribute to greater social equity and sustainability for protected areas.