GEORGE NEWS - In celebration of World Wildlife Day, which is held annually on 3 March, CapeNature / The Greenpop Foundation* has planted a tree on behalf of George Herald. Representatives visited George Herald's offices early in March to hand over a certificate.
The project of planting trees not only improves the well-being of nature itself, it also provides livelihoods for vulnerable communities with ties to these areas, within and near forested areas.
This year's theme for World Wildlife Day, "Forests and livelihoods: sustaining people and the planet", highlights the role of forests in sustaining people around the world.
CapeNature CEO Dr Razeena Omar says that CapeNature in partnership with various role players helps provide employment for vulnerable communities close to its reserves in the Western Cape.
The Outeniqua and Grootvadersbosch nature reserves are prime examples. These reserves currently employ numerous people from the surrounding communities through the EPWP programme, which ensures an income for many families.
The EPWP programme also provides income-generating opportunities for vulnerable groups such as women and the disabled. At Grootvadersbosch, just over 50% of the employees are female, with approximately 5% being disabled.
At Outeniqua, a staggering 82% of employees are female.
Forests an all-round life support
"Forests don't only provide socio-economic benefits to people through industries such as nature conservation and tourism, but also essential environmental services and goods such as food, raw materials and medicine," says Omar. "Nature also has cultural and spiritual significance to many people and there is a strong link between well-being and nature. In fact, everything in nature is interconnected and it is therefore critical that we protect all natural areas, including forests, to ensure these can sustain us into the future."
Grootvadersbosch conserves most of the typical forest tree species, including yellowwood, stinkwood and red alder, and is also home to two species only found in this particular forest, the forest emperor butterfly and a subspecies of the ghost frog.
With 196 bird and 1 200 plant species recorded, not only is this protected area important to the conservation of biodiversity, but also an important source of income generation for the surrounding community.
Outeniqua Nature Reserve is home to mountain fynbos interspersed with indigenous forest and boasts species such as the majestic black eagle and the elusive leopard.
Biological control projects and Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) at Outeniqua Nature Reserve have also contributed to income generation within these communities. Programmes such as these not only provide jobs, but are also geared towards training and skills development, particularly among youth.
Through its alien-vegetation removal and other programmes, CapeNature trains people from local disadvantaged communities in plant identification, chainsaw use, health and safety, herbicide use, personal finance, site management, field safety and survival, among other skills.
The Greenpop Foundation NPC is an award-winning registered non-profit organisation headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa. It works to restore ecosystems and empower environmental stewards through reforestation, urban greening, sustainable development, and environmental art projects across Sub- Saharan Africa. Since its inception in 2010, Greenpop has planted over 139 000 trees and inspired over 132 000 active citizens across South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. Its Forests for Life programme connects small-scale organisations across Sub-Saharan Africa with funding and support to plant trees, restore forest and woodland habitats, effectively manage critical catchment areas, and improve the lives of communities who rely on forest resources.
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