AnneLise Vlok | Synopsis of the GCBR Forum Meeting | 22 May 2019

GCBR Forum knowledge-sharing get-together

22 May 2019

Skilpadgat Guest Farm, Albertinia

Introducing the Langeberg World Heritage Site Complex – a strategic water source area from catchment to coast – Ian Allen, Henry van Tonder, Jean du Plessis (CapeNature)

CapeNature is currently in the process of compiling a management plan for the Langeberg World Heritage Site Complex (LWHSC). This area includes three nature reserve clusters: (1) Marloth, (2) Grootvadersbosch, and (3) Geelkrans Nature Reserve Clusters. Total size is approx. 52334 ha. Vision: The LWHSC conserves living land- and seascapes through partnerships for the benefit of all generations. Six biodiversity focal values have been identified as being of importance to the LWHSC: (1) Fynbos mosaic; (2) Succulent Karoo; (3) Freshwater ecosystems; (4) Estuarine environment; (5) Marine environment; (6) Cultural Heritage and Rural Landscapes. Most prominent threats include inappropriate fire regimes; invasive alien plant and animal species; unsustainable and illegal harvesting of resources in the marine and estuary environment; over-abstraction of surface and groundwater; instream and riparian modification; urban expansion, commercial and industrial developments; water pollution; agricultural expansion; and recreational activities. Some of the strategies identified to address these threats are: Address invasive alien plant clearing and compliance through partnerships; Practice integrated fire management in conjunction with partners and stakeholders; Address the natural resource use in the marine and estuarine environment through implementation of Integrated Compliance Plan; address natural resource use in the marine and estuarine environment, water best use practice and compliance, prevention, monitoring and lack of knowledge regarding water pollution to improve water quality and instream and riparian modification through partnerships with relevant stakeholders.

 

The wiring of the Watsonia switchboard – Jan Vlok (Regalis Environmental Services)

This study was done about 30 years ago, between 1987 and 1989. Aim of study was to try and find out why Watsonias mainly flower after a burn. Jan studied the development of the corms of Watsonia fourcadei in unburnt and burnt areas on the Outeniqua Mtns. He looked at what triggers flower initiation; how are resources allocated; whether water is more readily available to burnt plants; and how the plants cope with water stress. Main findings are that Watsonias follow a ‘capitalist’ strategy – mother plant is retained against the cost of the production of babies when resources are limited; certain hormones stimulate flowering; plant moisture stress of burnt and unburnt plants are similar during day and night; plants can accumulate acids during night time to reduce water stress during day time; burnt plants do not accumulate more resources than unburnt plants as flower production comes at a cost to new corms.

 

Garden Route Casino Community Trust – Funding of Environmental Initiatives in the Mossel Bay area – Sandra Falanga (Trustee GRCCT)

Funding via the Garden Route Casino Community Trust (GRCCT) is to benefit the Mossel Bay Community. A small portion of the annual profit of the casino is given to the GRCCT, an independent entity. The trustees are volunteers and represent the community. The GRCCT was established before the casino was built and stipulates a 25% allocation of the funds for environmental conservation projects. Sandra was nominated by the Mossel Bay Town Council as an environmental trustee. Anyone can apply for funding, provided it is not for personal gain. Review meetings are held quarterly. Projects are only funded if there is unanimous approval of applications. The Trust Funds – but the Applicants Implement!

Examples of some of the projects and initiatives that have been funded: SAPREC (Seabird and penguin rehabilitation); S.M.A.R.T (deals with stranded marine animals, seabirds, penguins, turtles & seals); Keep Fin Alive (shark & marine conservation and education, beach clean-ups, combatting plastic pollution); Maintenance and signage at the Dias Museum Ethnobotanical Garden & Braille Trail; Educational Programmes such as the Archaeology module at the Bartholomeu Dias Museum; Puppet theatre shows at schools (‘Druppels’, ‘Vin die Hartseer Haai’); The Green Post, an environmental newsletter in the Mossel Bay Advertiser; In collaboration with the GCBR & the water wise Trapsuutjies in KwaNonqaba; Three events of the GCBR TransGouritz MTB; Support in various ways for the local conservancies (Fransmanshoek, Danabaai, St Blaize, Hartenbos, Midbrak & Groot Brak Conservancies); Wild flower booklet for the Danabaai Conservancy; Signage, fencing and alien vegetation clearing at the Diosma Nature Reserve; Maintenance and alien vegetation clearing along the St Blaize Trail; Assistance to the Outramps CREW’s pursuit of redlisted plant monitoring. And many more!

Many more opportunities and needs exist in Mossel Bay when it comes to the environment. There is not only scope for – but also a wish list for – more substantial funding to address a variety of pressing environmental issues in the greater Mossel Bay.

 

Guardian of Eden – Volunteer or real-life superhero? – Jo-Anne King (Garden Route Botanical Society)

The Botanical Society of South Africa (BOTSOC) is a membership and volunteer-driven society. The BOTSOC focusses on wild flower conservation through the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW); the Cycad Project; environmental education and awareness raising through the publication of ‘Veld and Flora’, as well as a series of field guides to local floras, biome posters and workbooks; commenting on biodiversity in Environmental Assessments; supporting the Groen Sebenza Programme; and as a contributor to the National Strategy for Plant Conservation (NSPC). Dedicated volunteers are true superheroes. Volunteers should not be confused with employees. Volunteers really want the outcome of the activity to be meaningful and valuable (to society). Increase credibility by delivering real support to key superheroes. Of importance is to create a volunteer-friendly environment. Young people (millennials and post-millennials) are in search for meaning. Volunteer work can contribute to personal development and enhance their CVs. Rather pay for expenses than using non-monetary incentives and rewards. Create opportunities for peer-led activities. The local CREW groups are true superheroes. Every Wednesday there is a volunteer day in the propagation yard at the Garden Route Botanical Garden where a group of Nelson Mandela University students assist with a variety of activities. Contact details: Jo-Anne King – Garden Route Branch; #guardianofeden; grbotsoc@gmail.com.

 

The savvy of the SASSI Project – Sustainable Consumption & Responsible Production – Whose responsibility is it? – Robin Adams (WWF SA MPA Forum Coordinator; WWF-SASSI)

Oceans are a critical player in the basic elements we need to survive. Ocean plants produce half of the world’s oxygen and absorb nearly one-third of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. Oceans regulate the weather and form the clouds that bring us rain. Besides seafood, oceans provide ingredients, like algae and kelp that are used in making peanut butter, beer, soymilk and frozen foods; 36% of the world’s total fisheries catch each year is ground up into fishmeal and oil to feed farmed fish, chickens and pigs. Oceans also provide ingredients to shampoos, cosmetics and even medicines that help fight cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, viruses and other diseases. The oceans provide food and/or income for over 2.6 billion people. According to Global Fisheries Statistics 93% of the world’s fish stocks are fully fished or considered unsustainable and 25% of all global catches are bycatch and often discarded. On top of that we have the mega-crisis of plastic pollution in our oceans. In SA, the fishing industry contributes to 0.5% of the GDP (commercial), the commercial sector employs around 50 000 people on a seasonal or permanent bases, but a lot more when we include dependents and tourism. Keeping oceans healthy keeps people healthy and we each have a personal responsibility to protect our oceans.

The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) is an awareness raising and educational project, to discourage consumers from choosing illegal and unsustainable seafood and to guide consumers towards more environmentally-friendly choices. The WWF-SASSI List has been compiled through a scientifically rigorous process using internationally accepted best practice methodology. The questions every consumer must ask: What is it?; Where does it come from?; How was it caught or farmed? All harvested species are colour coded: Red = Don’t Buy; Orange = Think Twice; Green = Best Choice. Consumers can drive change. In 2010, 53% respondents indicated that they are likely or very likely to use one of the SASSI tools, and in 2017 34% indicated that the tools have made a big difference in the way they consume seafood and only 29% indicated that they have never used the tools.

Robin closed with a quote of the Dalai Lama: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

AnneLise Vlok

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