“November marks the month when a year ago over 100 000 hectares either side of the Outeniqua mountains burnt to tinder, with several lives lost and millions of rand of damage to infrastructure and grazing, resulting in significant loss of income to the region, as well as precious jobs lost,” says Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI).
“Prevailing drought in the northern and western parts of the region, combined with the 2017 Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Stilbaai/ Riversdale/ Vermaaklikheid wildfire disasters, the damage done to the local economy is an enormously difficult and frightening calculation to make. In as much as the fact that the Southern Cape is a popular destination for those choosing to retire, or for holidaymakers and adventurers, the region is in need of new businesses and a healthy agricultural sector,” says Meiring.
“All indications are that the Southern Cape should place a lot more focus on how we prepare our region for a changing climate, and the risks and opportunity it brings with it”.
The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), including the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF), continues to explore climate change risks and developments, and will be doing a lot more in this regard during the course of 2020 in order to gear up for a challenging and unpredictable environment.
According to Meiring, climate change and continuous fire risks impact in many ways, including a marked reduction in air quality, increased risks in terms of water quality and quantity, lower levels of national and international investment, slow but irreversible loss of biodiversity and a generally lower quality of life for those residing in the area.
“In as much as climate change is clearly irreversible, there is a huge responsibility on both the regional authorities and regional landowners to take ownership of what they can manage and find meaningful ways to work towards a higher quality environment to ensure a better and more sustainable future,” concludes Meiring.
Photo: Wildfire – burning plantation: Climate change related disasters have a very significant impact on the Southern Cape economy and the region is in need for more business investment and healthy and prosperous agricultural and forestry industries. (Photo Credit: Pixaby)
** The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a regional forum for collaboration in conservation, environmental adaptation and community interaction. The forum aims to coordinate regional conservation efforts, serve as a catalyst to drive climate adaption practices in the Southern Cape and strive to establish a better-coordinated approach to environmental management.
** The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) is a public platform and think tank for landowners and land managers with an interest in invasive alien plant management, water stewardship and land management. SCLI is supported by the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), a subsidiary of WWF SA. SCLI also manages the Secretariat of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).