The Garden Route Fire Commemoration Event and Climate Change Indaba will this year coincide with World Oceans Day, taking place on Tuesday 8 June 2021. The Indaba is hosted by the Garden Route District Municipality and the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).
The theme for the 2021 United Nations World Oceans Day is Life and Livelihoods. It is a day for humanity to celebrate and support the life and the livelihood that the ocean sustains and puts the spotlight on biodiversity and the interconnectivity between the ocean and its ecosystems.
According to Cobus Meiring, chairperson of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF), entities tasked with environmental management in the Garden Route are increasingly emphasising the importance of restoration and rewilding of natural ecosystems and habitat in the region, which serves to highlight the interconnectivity between a healthy ocean and terrestrial environment.
“A point in case is the drive to reconnect the Indian Ocean with the Outeniqua mountains and the creation of biodiversity conservation and migration routes through the restoration of Garden Route forests, streams, wetlands, rivers and catchments in collaboration with private landowners.”
Stretching from Mossel Bay to the Storms River mouth, the Garden Route is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world.
Says Meiring: “The scenic splendour of the Garden Route is a precious resource. Celebrating a healthy and vibrant ocean and dependent ecosystems is an opportunity to boost the conservation of the region’s very special natural environment.”
“Climate change, and the challenges and opportunities it offers, is no doubt worth reflecting upon. We dare not wipe out the memories of events like the 2017 and 2018 wildfire disasters which wreaked havoc in the Garden Route, nor the perpetual drought which decimated much of the agricultural capacity of the regional interior – much of which can be ascribed to slight climate changes with significant effects.”
“As the world celebrates World Oceans Day, South Africa in general, and the Garden Route in particular, will do well to use the opportunity to show respect for what remains of what nature blessed the country with, and even as we focus all our energy and resources to survive Covid-19 and its socio-economic impact, we have to plan to conserve our oceans and natural environment, as therein lies our ultimate survival as a species,” says Meiring.
Climate Change Indaba, George
The theme for this year’s Garden Route Fire Commemoration Event and Climate Change Indaba is “Adapt to a Sustainable Future”. The keynote address will be delivered by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), Ms Makhotso Magdaline Sotyu.
Professors Christo Fabricius and Hervé Fritz will present the latest findings on global change research in the Garden Route. Professor Fabricius is Lead, CARMa-Afrika: Capacity for African Resource Management at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and Professor Hervé Fritz is Director of the ECO REHABS International Research Lab, CNRS France, together with the Nelson Mandela University.
The challenges of climate change and invasive alien species in Africa will also come under the spotlight in a presentation by Dr Arné Witt, Invasive Alien Plant Specialist and Regional (Africa, Asia and the Caribbean) Invasive Alien Species Coordinator for the international science-based development organisation, CABI.
Other presentation topics include disaster management, water resource management, freshwater ecology, and sea-level rise and its impact on coastal infrastructure along the Mossel Bay coastline.
A field visit, hosted by Knysna Municipality, the Garden Route Trail Park and the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) will also be taking place on Wednesday 9 June 2021. The focus of the field visit will be on methods for killing blackwood including herbicide mixing and application, as this remains one of the most difficult weeds to control.
Interested organisations or individuals who would like to attend the indaba and/field visit can send an email to Louise Maré, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Due to Covid-19 regulations, is it essential to register in advance for the Indaba.
Photo: Coastline: As the world celebrates World Oceans Day 2021, the Garden Route reflects upon the way we manage our coastline in the face of the severe impact of development and coastal vulnerability. (Photo: SCLI)
The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a regional forum and public platform for collaboration in conservation, environmental adaptation and community interaction. It is a think tank for national, regional and local government, conservation bodies, academics, the media, landowners and land managers, active in the full spectrum of environmental matters in the region. Website: https://www.scli.org.za/gref/