Part of our exquisite natural heritage - Nature's Valley Beach at the Grootrivier Estuary. Photo: SANParks.
GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Today (Thursday, June 5) is World Environment Day, which is celebrated every year to encourage action and awareness on issues pertaining to the environment. SANParks urges the public to make their voices heard on issues of environmental concern.
"We need to cooperate towards protecting sources of water in the Garden Route National Park and raise our voices, not our sea level." So says general manager of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP), Jill Bunding-Venter. "This is the only national park in South Africa that falls within the jurisdiction of four municipalities." These include the Eden District Municipality (Wilderness section of the GRNP), the Knysna Municipality (Knysna section), Cacadu District Municipality and Koukamma Municipality.
The GRNP is a one-of-a-kind, 'open access' park, a model for a park without boundaries. Its picturesque exhibition of landscapes and seascapes spans over 150 000 hectares of land from Wilderness to Tsitsikamma.
"Our work includes working with various stakeholders including municipalities and other conservation agencies to ensure conservation objectives are met. It takes a village to raise a child is an African proverb affirming the need to work together towards biodiversity objectives," says Bunding-Venter.
The effort to ensuring that the ecological health of water bodies in the park is maintained, is undertaken by various stakeholders who make up the Knysna Pollution Action Committee. It tackles pollution-related threats facing South Africa's number one estuary every Monday morning. Partners include the Knysna Basin Project, Eden District Municipality, SANParks and Knysna Municipality.
A similar structure known as the Groot River Estuary Committee is a joint initiative among neighbouring partners including Bitou Municipality, Nature's Valley Trust, SANParks and Nature's Valley Ratepayers Association. Similarly, its work is to protect the Groot River and keep it clean.
The development of a water quality index, meant to predict the impact of different land-use activities on the quality of streams and rivers, is being piloted in the Wilderness Lakes catchment. Dr David le Maitre of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is leading this development with Dr Dirk Roux of SANParks.
It is set to inform citizens and other land-use groups regarding usage of their living and working landscapes to protect water in the catchment area. The tool examines how different land-uses ultimately affect the quality of water flowing to the Wilderness Lakes area, the sea and surrounds.
"Once completed, this tool should be able to highlight impact hot spots in the catchment. Such impacts can potentially be countered through maintaining healthy riparian buffers," says Dr Le Maitre.
The coastline areas are cleaned and rehabilitated by the Working for Coast programme, also part of SANParks Biodiversity Social Programme.
This programme removes waste and marine debris (particularly on Blue Flag beaches), rehabilitates dunes, and repairs and build access structures such as boardwalks. The programme is also linked to street cleaning, greening, waste management and catchment rehabilitation.
Explore the Wilderness
Residents and visitors can explore nature by renting a canoe and paddling up the Touw River, passing through dense indigenous forests, habitat to the half-collared Kingfisher, fish eagles and other waterbirds. Alternatively, one can select a route that takes one up the Serpentine River, arriving at Island Lake for an afternoon lunch on the water or dock and enjoy the braai facilities available there.
Bookings for canoeing can now be done through the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park's reception at 044 877 0046.
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