Hope Spots are a Forum for Positive Collaboration
Hope Spots are not MPAs or reserves, but are areas in which people can contribute to positively improve the environment. All Hope Spots in South Africa either abut or include MPAs or marine reserves and this enables people to work more closely with the government authorities to help meet local, provincial and national goals. Both are winners: the public feel more positive towards conservation areas and the authorities which run them and they are pleased to be contributing positively to their country. The government benefits from the positive guided from the public and academia.
Where ever one involves the public in issues of conservation there are dichotomies. On the one hand there are the conservation enthusiasts and volunteers. On the other, those to whom conservation and sustainability are an anathema and the words 'environmental protection' are even worse. Many of those who are antagonistic towards conservation issues are the communities who see steps to protect nature as steps to take away their livelihoods.
In the South African description of Hope Spots, the words conservation, sustainability and protection hardly feature; rather the emphasis is on encouraging people to play positive roles in improving their environment for themselves. The Hope Spots aim to provide a forum for positive collaboration. To many the rift between fishermen and authorities seems intractable, but Hope Spots do offer an alternative to what seem to be intractable problems, especially if positive lessons from elsewhere in Africa might be applied within South African Hope Spots.
To harness the power of people there is a need to promote awareness, education and importantly, involve as many people as possible in positive actions. Through such activities people better understand, begin to care and know. Once people care, communities of caring people develop and a positive ethic of caring action develops.