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GRI MEMBER FORUM – Establishment of a Database

View from Kaaiman’s

An ambitious, programme aimed at giving Blue Flag status to a section of Wilderness beach is well on track, and expected to reach completion in October this year already. A Blue Flag is an international award given to beaches that meet excellence in the areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards.
As part of the quest for accreditation – water quality testing is being done along a 200 metre stretch of Wilderness beach from the Touw River estuary to the NSRI Station. The area is being monitored to establish whether it measures up to the criteria for attaining Blue Flag accreditation. The public ablution block near the NSRI and Solinos Restaurant is also being upgraded.
A committee headed by the Eden District Municipality applied for the Blue Flag programme in February this year. which is being evaluated by Ted Knott of Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (Wessa) coordinates and manages the programme locally. The Working for Coast, NSRI, SANParks and Solinos are parners in the venture and serve on an committee.
Chairman of the Garden Route Initiative (GRI), Vernon GibbsHall announced at the GRI’s May meeting that the project is expected to near completion in October this year already. He added that negotiations are underway to have lifesavers on duty in December, January and Feburary when the flags will be out. Educational activities were due to be commenced with in the coming months.The criteria are set by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), the international coordinating body of the Blue Flag campaign in Europe. Two local businessmen, Claudio Nespola and Massimo Mariotti, pledged the funding to pay for this year’s registration fee.
“The pilot phase of the project came off the ground in February,” said Eden District Municipality Speaker Doris Nealer who was upbeat about the tourism spin-off which the new-found status will have for the Garden Route. At this stage Hartenbos and Dias Strand at Mossel Bay also have Blue Flag Status. Mrs Nealer said at the launch “We want our entire Garden Route coast to be pristine and safe for children. We should keep our beaches clean and manned with lifesavers.”
*The Blue Flag programme is a voluntary eco-label for beaches, marinas, whale watching boats and has become a symbol of quality around the world. Gibbs-Hall said that he was assisting Knysna Municipality with their application for Blue Flag “beach” status for Brenton-on-Sea and for Thesens Island in their marina category.
The programme is designed to raise environmental awareness and increase sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach management. The World Tourism Organisation regards the Blue Flag as the most well-known eco-label globally, with nearly 4000 sites in over 40 countries.
*There are currently 29 beaches with Blue Flag status in SA. South Africa is the first country outside Europe to win Blue Flag accreditation for its beaches.
*The GRI is a partnership between local authorities and conservation organisations that have joint projects aimed at conserving and restoring the unique biodiversity and sense of place in the Garden Route.

A project initiated by the
Plettenberg Bay Community Environment Forum,
an umbrella body which includes
BirdLife Plett, Wildlife & Environment Society SA and Botanical Society of SA

On Saturday 19 May, despite a biting south-wester and soggy ground after good rain the previous day, a team of six cleared a good deal of Lantana from the area of the new boardwalk. Special thanks to Gretchen Hesse and Jean Sparg of BotSoc who joined us from other areas of Plett and to the Editor of WHAT’S NEW for publishing our notice.

The focus of this first hack was Lantana (Cherry pie) because it is currently clearly visible in flower and to prevent further seed dispersal. Other problem species to be tackled in future include, amongst others: Manitoka, Crofton weed, Castor oil plant, Brasilian pepper and Australian Acacias. All these species displace indigenous plants, which are critical to the health of the vlei ecosystem and which provide year-round food for keynote species such as the Knysna Turaco or ‘Loerie’.

A small start has been made on some of the lantana but there is still plenty of work to be done to maintain the natural ecosystem – as a habitat for wild creatures and a lift to our spirits.

Hacks will be a regular event on the third Saturday of each month 09h00 – 12h00, meeting at White Caps Way Car Park (western end of the new boardwalk). All welcome, especially property owners surrounding the Vlei and others who enjoy its natural beauty.
Contact: Di Grant at 044 533 0728 or

Within Eden’s diminishing floristic region lies the ecologically sensitive and threatened Robberg Coastal Corridor (RCC, or Corridor), an 18 kilometre stretch of beautiful, pristine coastal land that links the Robberg Nature Reserve in the east to the Garden Route National Park in the west – rich in fynbos of numerous varieties. By connecting the two protected areas which adjoin it, consolidation of the Corridor, once achieved, would extend its length to over 30 kilometres from the tip of Robberg Peninsula to Noetzie – more than sufficient to sustain a hiking trail along a coastline equally as spectacular as the famous Otter Trail on the Tsitsikamma Coast.

The preservation of the RCC from encroachment, and linking it to these two core protected areas, will protect and facilitate the natural movement of the flora and fauna along the Corridor, thereby preserving the diversity of genetic species and enabling better adaptation to the vagaries of climate change. Most important, it will also secure the last remaining ecological lifeline to the increasingly isolated Robberg Peninsula.

This crucial and achievable ecological challenge mobilized a group of concerned Corridor landowners to constitute the Robberg Coastal Corridor Landowners Association (RCCLA) in October 2010. To this end, the RCCLA, in a groundbreaking initiative, and with the support of The Eden to Addo Corridor Initiative, The Garden Route Initiative, SANParks, CapeNature, WWF and the two municipalities that host the extended Corridor, subsequently made application in early 2011 to the Minister for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning of Western Cape Province, to declare its members’ properties a Protected Environment (PE) in terms of the National Protected Areas Act.

Included with the PE application is a draft Management Plan compiled by CapeNature in collaboration with the RCCLA, which sets out how the PE will be managed, adhering to ecologically best practice. It includes ongoing clearing of alien plants and trees; wetland/water protection; pollution and waste disposal monitoring; fire protection; controlled burning of the fynbos; security; maintenance of appropriate fencing; addressing non-essential visually polluting structures; and general monitoring, patrolling and protection of the PE.

WATER WEEK 2011 – George Water Works –

Every year the Eden District Municipality celebrates National Water Week in South Africa during the month of March which also features the World Water Day on the 22 March. The primary aim of this campaign is to raise awareness among Garden Route schools about the role of water in social and economic development including the need to get citizens to change their attitudes towards water use.

The campaign emphasizes water conservation as one of the major interventions that South Africans need to appreciate if we are to guarantee water security and availability for the country. It also highlights the centrality of water as a resource in the well being of both the environment and people.

This year’s SA Water Week celebrations coincide with South Africa hosting the United Nations World Water Day celebrations in Cape Town on the 22 March 2011. The United Nations Habitat, UN Water and the African Ministers Council on Water {AMCOW} have collaborated to host this historic event on our shores to highlight the plight of city dwellers with regard to water. A range of issues will be discussed focusing on options for tackling urban water and sanitation challenges facing the African continent. The overall theme: Water for Cities – Responding to the Urban Challenge will be the compass for discussions and celebrations during this campaign.

In South Africa, March is also regarded as Human Rights Month and as such, the 21st of March will see the country celebrating human rights. For this reason and while appreciating the importance and centrality of the international theme about cities, our national theme will also focus on water as a human rights issue.

Some of the activities we can get involved in during the awareness include:

  • To adopt and clean dirty rivers in our areas
  • Report leaking and burst pipes
  • Fix leaking taps in our yards and homes
  • Avoid watering our gardens with hosepipes for long periods and during the middle of the day
  • Use buckets to wash our cars instead of the hosepipes
  • Report any illegal abstraction of water from rivers and other water sources for commercial or domestic use
  • Report industries and individuals that dumReport industries and individuals that dump their toxic waste in our rivers

The South Africa Government has come a long way since 1994 to ensure accessibility of running water to all citizens. We have worked tirelessly to make water a constitutional right for everybody. Against this background, I call on all South Africans to pay for all services rendered, including water, to ensure efficient service delivery and sustainability. South Africa is a semi-arid country, which means that we don’t have enough water to sustain our livelihoods and the economy. It is therefore important that we pay for the water that we use in order for the Government to be able to employ labour that lays pipes for reticulation and to hire skilled people such as engineers and technicians to purify this precious resource.

Unless we work together to thwart the above stated challenges, South Africa will forever be vulnerable to threats of fresh water resources due to population growth, food insecurity, urbanization, industrialization, pollution of water, poor management structures and the lack of necessary scientific and technical expertise that is so crucial to the sustainability of water.

The 2010 CAPE Landscape Initiatives Knowledge Exchange (LIKE) titled ‘Private Conservation as an Economics or Business Decision’ took place from 24-26 November 2010 at Slanghoek Mountain Resort in Rawsonville and was hosted by the Cape Winelands District Municipality. The LIKE is a platform where the landscape initiatives in the Cape Floristic Region, comes together annually to support and encourage the sharing of lessons, information and experiences across the landscapes. The 2010 LIKE was aimed at supporting the landscape initiatives to understand the issues from the landowners’ perspective, the conservationists’ perspective and the economists’ perspective in order to provide a well rounded understanding and to develop the capacity of participants to effectively engage with this issue in their work. The LIKE was attended by more than 40 participants, including representatives from the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, Baviaanskloof Mega-reserve, Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor, Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative, Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, Garden Route Initiative, Gouritz Initiative and the Upper Breede Collaborative Extension Group. Also in attendance were representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative. The first day’s proceedings included a welcome from Sakkie du Toit, farmer and owner of Slanghoek Mountain Resort and Martin Albertus, the Department of Environmental Affairs representative in the Cape Winelands District. This was followed by a presentation and discussion from Kerry Purnell of CapeNature on their biodiversity stewardship tools and progress, and presentations from the respective landscape initiatives on economic drivers in their landscape initiatives. On the 25th of November UCT economists Beatrice Conradie, Tony Leiman and Maria Garcia did various presentations from the basics of cost-benefit analysis and the economic point of view to understanding landowner motivation around conservation on the Agulhas Plain. A presentation by du Toit provided a landowner perspective, whilst CapeNature’s Garth Mortimer provided the conservator’s point of view. This was followed by an introductory presentation on environmental valuation and payments for ecosystems services, by SANBI’s Tracey Cumming, after which the participants went on a walk through the fynbos at Slanghoek guided by Rudolph Roscher from the Department of Agriculture and Garth Mortimer. During the guided walk participants enjoyed the beautiful scenery and could also see the physical context and challenges faced by landowners and conservationists in the area. The final day of the workshop saw participants discussing the lessons learnt paper from the landscape and corridor initiatives, a proposed mechanism for coordination of biosphere reserves, a review and update of last year’s LIKE theme on financial and institutional sustainability and an evaluation of this year’s event. According to Caroline Petersen, CAPE learning network manager, the LIKE was well received by participants: “Participation levels were high, and people tackled difficult economic issues with enthusiasm”. In the evaluation, one of the participants wrote that “the idea of having people working on similar issues coming together to share is phenomenal. I liked the energy from members of various initiatives and how they dealt with issues.”

Dear GRI stakeholders / colleagues / members

Please find attached the AGENDA for the Garden Route Initiative meet – To take place on FRIDAY 11th FEBRUARY 2011 at the NMMU Saasveld Campus in George from 10h00 – 13h00. The original date was set for the 4th, but many are returning later from their holidays and have kindly requested the 11th.

There are BRILLIANT presentations in store :

1. Dr Steve Boyes (UCT) – Ornithologist at Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology will be presenting his findings, successes and challenges in conserving endangered avifauna
2. Andre Swart (Environmental Attorney) – Will be presenting environmental Case Studies of bringing transgressors to book.
3. Fiona Ipsom (Bio-control Scientist) – Will be presenting on the biological control of alien invasive flora with a view to the establishment of bio-control reserves in the Garden Route.
4. Yvette Van Wyk (GR Herbarium) – Will be presenting and demonstrating the new, image-based interactive guide to Proteaceae – This comprehensive data base resource will be launched at the meet and will be available for purchase.

NB: The formal Eden District Coastal Management Committee will be established in line with legislation. Ideally, the nominations should include – The Eden Municipality, the George Municipality, the Knysna Municipality, the Bitou Municipality, the Mossel Bay Municipality, the Hessequa Municipality, a representative from DEADP, DWA, DEA (Oceans and Coast),DAFF, CapeNature, SanParks, WESSA, NMMU Sustainability Unit, one representative from each Garden Route Conservancy, Tourism, Local Economic Development,

Please RSVP to this mail indicating the names of people attending. This is important for catering purposes.

Have Blessed Christmas all!

Yours in conservation

Vernon Gibbs-Halls

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Marine Week 2010 saw Knysna and Eden Municipality embark on a joint initiative with Smutsville Primary and Oakhill Primary, in celebrating our coastal resources.  Learners this year partook in the Lunchbox Theatre’s “The Whale Show” with great enthusiasm. This was followed by an informative talk on sharks, courtesy of the Great White shark researchers of Mossel Bay Oceans Research Unit. Thank you all for your valuable and insightful contibutions towards awareness raising of our oceans.

National Marine Week  is aimed at creating awareness of South Africa’s marine and coastal environment and the benefits that our coasts and oceans and its resources bring to our nation.

Our marine and coastal environments

Seas make up 70 percent of the planet’s surface and around 60 percent of the earth’s human population lives along the coastal zone. South Africa is bordered by two mighty oceans – the Atlantic and the Indian – both of which are characterised by individual currents, ecosystems and marine living resources.

The coast, diverse and dynamic, encompasses a multitude of ecosystems and stores a wealth of resources. Our coast is a focal area for human settlement and development and has tremendous value for commerce, recreation, culture and history.

South Africa has one of the highest coastal population densities in Africa with some of the poorest people in South Africa live on the coast and therefore poverty alleviation projects and sustainable livelihoods initiatives are important contributions to achieving sustainable coastal development.

Our seas and coast – sources of opportunity for all the people of South Africa

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, through its ongoing projects and programmes along the coast, is committed to create jobs and provide economic opportunities for coastal communities. This has to be aligned with the need to responsibly looking after our marine and coastal resources to ensure their sustainability for present and future generations.

Sustaining our marine resources

South Africa has managed its fishing resources well and has good reason to be proud of its record. Globally, our country is recognised for its effective fisheries management, and the awarded acclaimed international Marine Stewardship Council certification for the outstanding manner with which we have managed our hake fish stocks, which were on the brink of depletion in the 1970s, is testimony to this.

With a few exceptions such as line fish species and abalone, our fish stocks have been maintained over decades. The Marine Living Resources Act of 1998 outlines guidelines for sustainable management of our marine living resources, for the protection of the ecosystems and for the transformation of the fishing industry.