Our Journey

The beginning

On 1 February 1997, Peace Parks Foundation was founded by HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Nelson Mandela and Dr Anton Rupert to facilitate the establishment of peace parks, or transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs), in southern Africa.

I know of no political movement, no philosophy, and no ideology which does not agree with the peace parks concept as we see it going into fruition today. It is a concept that can be embraced by all. In a world beset by conflict and division, peace is one of the cornerstones of the future. Peace parks are building blocks in this process, not only in our region, but potentially the entire world.

Nelson Mandela, 1997

Founding patrons Nelson Mandela, HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Dr Anton Rupert ©Roy Beusker/NPL


May 1990

Dr Anton Rupert, then President of WWF South Africa, and Mozambique’s President Joaquim Chissano discuss joining protected areas across the two countries’ borders.

September 1991

A feasibility study is submitted to Mozambique, who request further studies to assess fully the political, socio-economic and ecological impacts.


The Global Environment Facility (GEF) of The World Bank agrees to provide assistance.

June 1996

The World Bank report recommends a shift towards a transfrontier conservation area (TFCA) approach.

May 1996

Dr Anton Rupert and Mozambique’s President Joaquim Chissano meet again

August 1996

At a first Transfrontier Park Initiative meeting in the Kruger National Park it is agreed that South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, should cooperate to realise the economic benefits of TFCAs.


With tourism in southern Africa as a whole rapidly expanding, the concept of cross-border collaboration peaks interest in other countries neighbouring South Africa.

1 February 1997

Peace Parks Foundation is established with an initial grant of R1,2 million (US$ 260,000) from the Rupert Nature Foundation to facilitate the establishment of TFCAs in southern Africa.

1 February 2017

Peace Parks Foundation celebrates 20 years of transfrontier conservation.

Two decades later

Twenty years on, southern Africa’s TFCAs incorporate over half of the declared conservation estate in the region. At over a million square kilometres, they rival the combined landmass of France and Spain.

The achievements have been thanks to the political will of the region’s leaders, the dedication of government and private sector entities and individuals, and the extraordinary and continued support of donors worldwide.

The concept of TFCAs is formally supported by all Southern African Development Community (SADC) members states, forms part of the official development strategy of SADC, and is being incorporated into the national legislation and policies of most SADC countries, as well as, their conservation agencies.

Under the chairmanship of Johann Rupert, the aim is to facilitate the delivery of fully functional peace parks, managed in harmony with their surrounding communities, to create sustainable local, national and regional benefit flows.

A global phenomenon

Over the last two decades the global number of transboundary protected areas complexes (TBPA) has gradually increased from 59 transborder areas (combined from 70 protected areas) as identified by IUCN in late 1980’s, to 169 (involving 666 individual protected areas) in 2001, and to 188 internationally adjoining protected areas (with at least 818 individual sites) by 2005. In 2007 the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) drew up an inventory that identified 227 TBPA complexes incorporating 3 043 individual protected areas or internationally designated sites. [Source: Global Transboundary Conservation Network]

Peace Parks Foundation is proud to play a key role in developing this global, forward-thinking conservation methodology across southern Africa.

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