Editor’s note: Conservation International is publishing stories from a new feature series, “South Africa side by side with nature.” In the series, we explore two South African landscapes where doing right by nature and doing right by people are the same. Here is a look at the concluding story in that series.
The continent of Africa has more children and teenagers than anyone else. With a median age of under 20 years old, it is the world’s youngest continent — and its fastest growing. Even as population growth in India, Southeast Asia and the Americas is expected to level off in coming decades, Africa is projected to double its residents by 2050.
For Sarah Frazee, chief executive officer of Conservation South Africa, finding conservation solutions that can mesh with urgent development needs means going outside the traditional toolbox of protected areas and use restrictions.
“The challenges of population growth and their need for natural resources will place huge pressure on areas currently set aside for nature and wilderness,” Frazee said. “Finding ways to restore and maintain healthy ecosystems where people currently live — cities, farms, communities adjacent to protected areas — will be crucial for the future of both people and nature.”
Outside Kruger National Park, where many residents have never visited the wildlife reserves that abut their land, that means restoring a lost connection to nature, starting with the youngest generation.
Jamey Anderson is a senior writer at Conservation International.