Many nations have listened to the few small voices coming from within communities having rich natural or cultural heritage. They have created volunteer community based Conservation Bodies which are distanced from government and rely largely on volunteer help emanating from the communities where heritage sites exist. The UK’s National Trust is a shining example and is today the largest private landowner in Britain, and it is registered as a charity putting hundreds of millions of Rands into conservation and education projects every year. We can never expect to get into that league but it could be possible to mobilise Conservation Bodies on a regional scale, eventually covering Provinces and eventually putting together a National heritage umbrella body.
Today there is a family of over 60 national bodies listed as members of the ‘International National Trust Organisation’ (INTO) which is an apolitical organisation established to harness the synergy of member organisations around the World to help countries to develop structures to suit conditions and circumstances similar to ours. It would be worthwhile for the reader to look at the UK National Trust’s website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk. The scope of their interests is mind boggling, but it all started with three people 100 years ago. It was established as a charity and remains so today as the largest private landowner in Britain. It is now time for South Africa to ‘jump on the train’. The success of the “National Trust” philosophy has spread world-wide. However, it will not be an overnight miracle. It must start from the “bottom up” by grouping conservation bodies together, to work together, and exchange ideas together.
It has often been said that Hout Bay is a microcosm of South Africa and so there is no better place to start a Cape of Good Hope heritage umbrella body representing volunteer groups, first here in the Peninsula and eventually all over the Western Cape.
We would like to make contact with volunteer organisations who can exchange ‘war stories’ and help find solutions that can help heritage conservation progress in SA and would be happy if you would contact us with your ideas. We have some ideas of our own which we would be prepared to share if you would like to mail us at: -HB.Heritage@zsd.co.za