The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is located in an area known as Maputaland, within the uMkhanyakude District Municipality, northern KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. The Park occupies an area of approximately 1 314 539 ha comprising a terrestrial (241 574 ha) and marine (1 072 965 ha) component comprising 15 ecosystems and a number of notable and diverse landscapes. The name “iSimangaliso” means miracle and wonder, which aptly describes this unique place.
iSimangaliso was proclaimed a World Heritage site in December 1999 in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act, 1999 (Act 49 of 1999), an Act that was incorporated into South African legislation by way of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (NEMPAA), 2003 (Act 57 of 2003). One of the requirements of the legislation is that the Park Authority compile an Integrated Management Plan (IMP). This IMP is a 10-year strategic management plan for the period 2022-2031. As such, it builds upon the previous 2017 – 2021 IMP and strives to integrate conservation, tourism development and the local economic development and empowerment of historically disadvantaged communities in and adjacent to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. In order to ensure World Heritage values are not compromised, conservation objectives need to be foremost, with the emphasis on ‘development for conservation’. In this context, economic empowerment, and job creation, through appropriate tourism development, are necessary to achieve conservation goals. The purpose of the IMP is to guide this balance.