#EarthDay community call with African Parks

Published: 25 Apr 2021

In honour of the Earth Day 2021 theme, Restore our Earth, Sun Exchange hosted a special edition Sun Exchange community call, featuring an inspiring chat with Andrea Heydlauff, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of our latest charity partner, African Parks. The conversation focused on the critical work the non-profit organisation is doing to conserve precious wildlife areas across the continent.

African Parks takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and communities. Today, African Parks manages 10 national parks and projects areas across 11 countries converting over 14.7 million hectares in: Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

African Parks was initially named as a designated charity in November 2020 for the Phase 1 Nhimbe Fresh solar project - our largest project to date and the first outside of South Africa. Since then, African Parks has been the nominated charity for an additional four Sun Exchange solar project crowdsales.

During the event, we were inspired by Andrea’s recounts of the community-level work that goes into creating a safe and secure environment for people and wildlife alike in areas under African Parks’ management. And we were on the edge of our seats hearing stories like that of the organisation’s brave and historic translocation of a herd of 500 elephants in Malawi.

The conversation was an enlightening view into the potential impact of solar-powered donations. When members choose to donate a portion of their solar earnings to a designated charity, not only do they financially support the work of charity organisations like African Parks, they simultaneously support the global transition to clean energy and fight against climate change, as well as the growth of the high-impact emerging market businesses that we solar power, like Nhimbe Fresh. This is a powerful tool on the path towards creating a more sustainable future for the planet and humanity

Sun Exchange members who buy solar cells in solar project crowdsales are paid monthly for 20 years for the clean electricity that their cells generate. Each Sun Exchange solar project crowdsale has a designated charity, to which members can select to donate all or part of their solar cell income.

"We enter into long term management agreements with governments to manage their national parks and protected areas or wilderness areas. And we do this on average for 20 to 25 years. We come into that agreement with financing already secured, or at least we have three years at a minimum of funding. The crux of that management mandate is that we have 100% responsibility and accountability. And that’s the responsibility for every aspect of that government’s protected area.” ~ Andrea Heydlauff, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, African Parks

Image Credit: Africa Parks/Frank Weitzer

African Parks recognises that the wider community is hugely important in the ongoing effort to restore and conserve habitats across Africa. They realised that their mandate goes far beyond just the protection of parks and landscapes, and includes advocating for socio-economic sustainability of the areas too.

"A big piece of what we do is to ensure that the benefits of the landscapes we conserve are derived by the people who need it most." ~ Andrea Heydlauff

Essentially, African parks aim to be the anchor of stability in the areas they manage by providing security in terms of both safety and economics. In some instances, by working with the community and local governments, they’ve effectively eradicated poaching, giving way for wildlife to flourish.

"The ripple effect of what that security does for wildlife, they can breed, they can raise their young, and then what that security does for the communities lead living in and around these landscapes, you cannot have sustainable development without security." ~ Andrea Heydlauff

Video Credit: African Parks