Realizing that TFCAs have common challenges and in line with the SADC TFCA vision, TFCA international coordinators, several international NGOs and TFCA practitioners of ten SADC Member States, founded the SADC TFCA Network on 25-26 September 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Some of the key common challenges that need to be addressed are: effective governance of TFCAs at the level of policies, legislation and institutions, establishing sustainable financing mechanisms for TFCAs, as well as demonstrating the value of TFCAs at the local, national and regional levels, e.g. by enhancing community benefits and capacity development.

Purpose of the TFCA Network

The founding members of the TFCA Network agreed that the TFCA Network will strive “to overcome TFCA challenges through shared learning, knowledge management and collaboration”, by improving:

i. Information exchange:

  • Sharing experiences within and across TFCAs
  • Conducting field visits to enhance understanding of local contexts

ii. Joint learning and knowledge management:

  • Developing a portal as a platform for joint learning, information exchange and knowledge management for SADC TFCA Network members
  • Developing a regional repository of TFCA related information
  • Innovation and idea testing through joint experimentation and documentation
  • Knowledge product development
  • Enabling peer review and feedback

iii. Resource mobilisation

iv. Collaboration and relationships:

  • Conducting face to face meetings
  • Developing linkages with TFCA stakeholder groups
  • Facilitating empowerment at the level of the TFCA

Membership and Achievements of the SADC TFCA Network

The Member States are steering the development of the TFCA Network. Hence the Steering Committee is comprised of one representative from each SADC Member State (TFCA Focal Point) as well as the SADC Secretariat, also functioning as the Secretariat of the SADC TFCA Network. Membership is open to anyone with a genuine interest in TFCA development.

To date, the network comprises of more than 500 members representing various stakeholders, including the TFCA Focal Points for each SADC Member State, TFCA International Coordinators, international and regional NGOs, international cooperating partners, private sector, academia representatives. It receives support from a broad range of partner organizations and programmes, among them the African Wildlife Foundation, Boundless Southern Africa, Frankfurt Zoological Society, IUCN BIOPAMA Programme, Panthera, Peace Parks Foundation, USAID RESILIM and SAREP Programmes, WWF and the German Development Cooperation through GIZ and KfW. The Network also intends to broaden membership to involve community representative and traditional leaders.

The TFCA Network members actively supported the development of three regional guidelines and strategies:

  • The TFCA development guideline outlines principles and requirements that a TFCA needs to meet to fulfil its role as a space for sustainable rural development.
  • The TFCA tourism concession guideline helps to guide governments and private sector alike to establish tourism concessions, to help conserve nature and provide benefits for the local communities within and around TFCA.
  • The Law Enforcement and Anti-Poaching Strategy (LEAP) is an important policy document for SADC Member States to develop cross border responses to the growing poaching crisis.

In 2014 the TFCA Network launched an interactive intranet to enable SADC TFCA practitioners to share information, experiences and knowledge. Currently this intranet is the only one in the sub region on TFCAs. The TFCA Network Intranet can be accessed through the TFCA website or portal that has recently been launched and offers a range of functions including discussion fora, a resource repository, member database, online calendar feeds, an image and movie data base, maps and much more. It also enables staff of a particular TFCA to share information within their own closed environment.

The TFCA Network developed a public information website on all TFCAs and their development launched at 17th Conference of the Parties to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES COP17)) in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2016. The interactive portal provides and invites the wider audience to view, share and discuss TFCA related information. The site includes general TFCA information, online tools and offers access to the general public, tourists and TFCA practitioners.