Two years of behind the scenes negotiating, research about local needs and deciding on what the park can offer local communities finally bore fruit on Friday 25th September 2015 when the park delivered 9 truckloads of wood to the nearby communities of Buffelsjagsbaai, Pearly Beach and Gansbaai. Under the leadership of ANP Park Management, Park Manager Miss Bulelwa Msengi actively encouraged her staff to make an effort to engage the neighbouring communities of the Overstrand municipal area. These communities were identified simply because they did not directly benefit from the Park as envisaged. Moreover the action also resulted in training for staff including the Working for Water chain saw operators, who ultimately were responsible for felling and chopping the large blue gum trees in the Ratelrivier area of the park. “ANP wants to live out the SANParks vision statement: connecting to society”, said Msengi. However before the Park could initiate any action an important stakeholder, Mr F. Myburgh, the Overstrand Area Manager, had to be consulted and informed of the park’s intention to deliver the much needed wood to the Buffelsjagsbaai, Pearly Beach and Gansbaai communities.
He unequivocally offered his support for the initiative said Msengi. Three truck loads each were dropped off at central points where the wood could be easily accessed by community members and judging by the reaction of the recipients the gift was well received. The Park Manager and her staff came face to face with the reality of living in these communities, they also developed empathy for the challenges these communities experienced on a daily basis and hope that this initiative is the first of many and that the relationship with local communities in close proximity to the park can only improve.