“Besides its stunning mountain ranges, lakes, rivers and ocean vistas, visitors to the Garden Route increasingly refer to the Garden Route as the “Concrete Route”, primarily due to the increasingly dense linear development of settlements and housing complexes all along the coastline, stretching from Still Bay (Stilbaai) in the west to Keurboomstrand in the east,” says Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI).
“Severe advents of drought, flooding as well as subtle but constant changes to rainfall patterns and wildfires are all factors impacting on human life and the environment in the Garden Route during the past two decades, and are hinting at a fast-changing natural environment. In as much as COVID-19 rocked the communal boat, a change in climate will bring about even more devastating impacts with permanent and deep-cutting socio-economic consequences.”
Meiring continues to say that the way communities living in the Garden Route manage their environment, including accommodating a fast-growing population along the coast, is already impacting upon scarce resources, such as available space for large-scale development. Sufficient and reliable fresh water to sustain them, implies that untouched areas – where biodiversity and natural infrastructure such as wild and untouched areas, wetlands, forests, rivers and catchments cling to survival – will ultimately face either total extinction or severe degradation.
“Landowners and land managers do hold the key to a sustainable future. Through collective and pro-active ecological restoration, damaged ecosystems and degraded landscapes can be restored, allowing biodiversity to bounce back, and enhancing ecological resilience. For example, by convincing communities and landowners to stop industrial-scale dumping and littering, as well as clearing their land of invasive alien plants, nature will be able to survive,” stresses Meiring.
“Better-managed landscapes are much better suited to cope with increasingly fluctuating natural patterns, such as episodic and inconsistent rains, floods, droughts and soaring temperatures.”
“Through land restoration and the protection of presently intact environments, the Garden Route will be in a much better position to deal with climate change, and in the process save and increase what is left of its biodiversity,” says Meiring.
Strictly enforcing a no-litter policy in the Garden Route will go a long way towards creating a better-quality environment for communities living in the region, and at the same time protect under threat biodiversity for future generations. (Photo: Cobus Meiring)
** 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.