Co-operating towards protecting sources of water in the GRNP

‘Raise your voice, not your sea level’

The Garden Route National Park (GRNP) is a one of a kind, ‘free access Park’, a model for a Park without boundaries. This picturesque exhibition of landscapes and seascapes spans over 150 000 hectares of land from Wilderness to Tsitsikamma.

Nature's Valley beach and Grootriver Estuary
Nature’s Valley beach and Grootriver Estuary

So says General Manager of the Garden Route National Park, Jill Bunding-Venter, ‘this is the only National Park in South Africa falling within the jurisdiction of 4 Municipalities. These include the Eden District Municipality (Wilderness section of the GRNP), the Knysna Municipality (Knysna section), Cacadu District Municipality and Koukamma Municipality.’

‘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.’

Ensuring 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 SA’s number 1 estuary every Monday morning. Partners include the Knysna Basin Project Professor Brian Allanson, 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, Natures Valley Trust, SANParks and Natures 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 CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) is leading this development with Dr Dirk Roux of SANParks, which 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 hotspots 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.  ‘We remove waste and marine debris (particularly on Blue Flag beaches), rehabilitate dunes, repair and build access structures such as boardwalks. The programme is also linked to street cleaning, greening, waste management and catchment rehabilitation’ says Bunding-Venter.

World Environment Day (05th June) every year encourages action and awareness on issues pertaining to the environment. Follow events you can join on social media to raise your voice.

Explore the Wilderness

Explore nature by renting a canoe and paddling up the Touw River, passing through dense indigenous forests with sightings of the Half-collared Kingfisher, Fish eagles and other water birds. Alternatively select the route that takes you 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, 044 877 0046

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