The declaration of two Blue Flag beaches in a national park is another tick in the right box for the national conservation agency SANParks in its quest to preserve biodiversity.
Nature’sValley Beach, in the De Vasselot part of the Tsitsikamma section of the GardenRoute National Park and Wilderness Beach, in the Wilderness section of the park, are the first in a South African protected area to gain certification in the international beach programme.
Now in its 25th year, Blue Flag is internationally accepted as the oldest eco-label of its type. The award goes to beaches meeting a standard of excellence.
Locally, the project is managed by the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (Wessa) and participating local authorities. South Africa is the first country outside Europeto be granted Blue Flag accreditation.
Garden Route park manager Jill Bunding-Venter said the two Blue Flag beaches were a reflection of the park’s cooperative governance approach.
George and Bitou municipalities, Eden district municipality and the Garden Route initiative all put shoulders to the wheel to “make this dream reality”.
There are now 36 Blue Flag beaches in South Africa.
This year full Blue Flag status was awarded for the first time to four marinas, Yachtport in Saldanha, Granger Bay Water Club, False Bay Yacht Club in Cape Townand the Royal Alfred Marina in Eastern Cape’s Ndlambe municipality.
Western Cape is the province with the most Blue Flag beaches – 23 at Cape Town, Overstrand, Hessequa, Mossel Bay, Eden District, Knysna, Bitou and Matzikama.
KwaZulu-Natalhas eight, seven on the Hibiscus Coast and one at Umhlatuze on the north coast. Eastern Cape’s four and a single one in Northern Cape make up the remainder.