|dc.description.abstract||Wilderness areas face serious threats to their integrity and continued existence. The law
has a critical role to play in their protection. To be effective, however, the law must be
based on sound philosophical and socio-economic considerations.
There is increasing recognition, internationally and nationally, of the utilitarian, intrinsic
and biocentric values of wilderness and wildlife. There is also an international trend
toward recognition and accommodation of tribal cultures and their traditional natural
resource harvesting rights within national legal and political systems. Effective
protection of the wilderness resource on which South African tribal cultures depend for
their continued existence is essential. Communities adjacent to wilderness areas must
be allowed to participate in the determination of the boundaries of, the preparation and
implementation of the management plans for, and the benefits derived from, such areas.
Wilderness management in South Africa must be linked to economic planning and rural
The values of wilderness to humankind are increasingly being recognised and protected
in international treaties and national legal systems. A comparative analysis of relevant
events in the United States, in particular, clearly demonstrates that the most effective
vehicle for establishment of a national wilderness system is a national wilderness statute.
South Africa should acknowledge the international trend towards wilderness
preservation, take instruction from the legal initiatives and protective mechanisms
adopted in other countries, recognise that its wilderness is a global heritage, and accept '
that it has an obligation to protect what remains of its wild country, not only in the
interests of its present and future generations, but also in the interests of the world
A review of the history and current status of wilderness in South Africa, and of the laws
which indirectly or directly provide protection of wilderness areas, wilderness values, or
wilderness equivalents, suggests that there is a need for a new legal dispensation for the
preservation of the remnants of South African wilderness. At present there is statutory
protection of declared wilderness areas in State forests only, in terms of the Forest Act
122 of 1984. There is no direct legislative protection of wilderness on other public lands,
and no legal protection of wilderness on private land. Effective and sustainable
protection of South African wilderness will best be achieved through the medium of an
appropriate national Wilderness Act.||en