Category: Garden Route

MEDIA RELEASE/ARTICLE: Recovery of indigenous vegetation following the 2017 wildfire disaster remarkable, but regrowth of invasive alien plants on a large scale a reason for concern

5 June 2020

On the eve of the commemoration of the 2017 wildfire disaster which ripped through Knysna and Plettenberg Bay like a blow torch, Cobus Meiring, on behalf of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) and the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF), asked Knysna Municipality’s Environmental Manager, Pam Booth, about her thoughts on the environmental recovery of the natural environment of the surrounding towns.

Says Booth, “The natural surrounds of both Knysna and Plettenberg Bay reflect what is true of most of the Southern Cape landscape, and that is the sad fact that it is severely affected by invasive alien plants.”

“It is common knowledge that the prevalence of impressive densities of invasive alien plants provided the biofuel that turned the wildfire into the inferno it became, generating heat so incomprehensible that everything in the path of the fires was obliterated.”

Continues Booth, “At the time, there were justified fears that, given the intense heat which the wildfire exerted on the landscape, that the indigenous seed bank in the ground, which would allow Fynbos species such as Proteas and Ericas to recover, was so badly affected that they will never recover, allowing even more of the beautiful landscape to become infested with invasive alien plants over time.”

“One such example was the invaluable terrain that is harbouring the unique set of plants sustaining the world-famous and endemic Brenton Blue butterfly. As confirmed now, the Brenton Blue is safe and sound, and much is being done by Brenton locals to ensure that invasive alien plants do not encroach on the town, giving indigenous vegetation a chance to recover, whilst reducing fire risk and creating jobs at the same time.”

“Fortunately, the plant species counted in the Southern Cape and Garden Route Fynbos Biome is a hardy species, which by nature are dependent on fire for survival and rejuvenation. Even as conservationists feared for the worst, the Fynbos came back, and after two seasons of favourable rainfall, the hills around Knysna and Brenton are alive with wildflowers of all kinds already standing two meters tall in places,” says Booth.

Regrowth of invasive alien plants poses a threat

According to Booth, the regrowth of invasive alien plants is a matter of great concern.

“It is true that in a great many places where invasive alien plants were present in numbers before the fire, they also grew back with a vengeance. This is a matter of great concern to all, as that may well set the scene for a repeat of the 2017 disaster in the coming years. Government is coming down hard on landowners who defies the laws governing the prevalence of invasive alien plants on their land, and already a number of landowners have received pre-directives and directives to either clear their land or face the court and the penalties associated.”

“Efforts by entities such as the Table Mountain Fund, WWF SA and the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) to empower and assist landowners to deal with the regrowth of invasive alien plants did make an impact, and private land bordering river systems such as the Knysna and Goukamma today is in a better state of invasive alien plant infestation than before the wildfire disaster.”

The Garden Route, including Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, is a jewel in South Africa’s crown of scenic tourist destinations. Thousands of jobs and the socio-economic survival of the area are dependent on its natural surrounds.

“Not only is it based on this premise that we implore landowners to manage invasive plants on their land, but also for the sake of biodiversity conservation which is also facing the impact of a changing climate and an ever-increasing human and development footprint,” says Booth.

*Sunday 7 June marks the commemoration of the 2017 Knysna wildfire disaster.

Photo: Fynbos in Brenton

Despite fears that the intensity of the 2017 wildfire disaster destroyed the underground seed bank of indigenous vegetation, Fynbos has made a remarkable recovery in the Garden Route. (Photo: SCLI)

** 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).

** 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.

 MEDIA ENQUIRIES

  1. Pam Booth:Manager, Environmental Manager, Knysna Municipality

Cell: 082 875 0342 / 079 208 7855

Email: pbooth@knysna.gov.za

  1. Cobus Meiring:Chairperson of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) and Chair of the Garden Route Environmental Forum

Cell: 083 626 7619 / Email: cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

Severe Weather Alert

The South African Weather Services has issued the following severe weather alert:

Hazard: Storm surges
Alert Level: Warning
Valid From (SAST): 25/05/20 10h00
Valid To (SAST): 26/05/20 00h00

Storm surge is expected along the south coast, between Cape Agulhas and Plettenberg Bay as well as in the False Bay region tomorrow (25/05/2020).

Description: Storm surges

Generally storm surges are a result of strong winds blowing over a large area called a fetch combined with low pressure systems. Dangerous waves or surges may also be caused by storms and/or tsunami’s resulting in widespread coastal damage and loss of life.

Precautions: Storm surges

All recreational beach activities should be suspended. People with beach side properties should be aware of the possibility of being flooded by a rise in sea level and wave surges that could cause damage to their property.

If possible relocate valuable assets to higher ground and be vigilant especially during high tide. If the surge is associated with a Spring High Tide then significant inundation is possible and one should be aware of the times of occurrence of the High tide.

Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from disaster management officers.

Description: Storm surges / High Seas

Generally heavy seas or damaging waves are a result of strong winds blowing over a large area called a fetch combined with low pressure systems. Long period swells are often very dangerous to tankers as they may literally snap them in half. Dangerous waves or surges may also be caused by storm surges and tsunami’s resulting in widespread coastal damage and loss of life.

In oceanography, a sea state is the general condition of the free surface on a large body of water—with respect to wind waves and swell—at a certain location and moment. A sea state is characterized by statistics, including the wave height, period, and power spectrum. The sea state varies with time, as the wind conditions or swell conditions change.

Precautions: Storm surges / High Seas

Ships should “idle” into the swell and wind so that the bow of the ship always faces the oncoming swell. If in a small sailing vessel reduce the sail area and steer into the oncoming swell. If along the shore-line stay well back from the highest high water mark as Secure all hatches, doors, windows and ports. Secure all loose items in the interior.
Pump the bilge’s dry and keep pumping them dry at regular intervals. Stow away all loose gear and lash down any large items that cannot be stowed. Break out your life preservers and inform your crew that everyone will be putting them on well in advance of their necessity.
Break out emergency gear like flares and first aid kit, sea anchor, safety harnesses, etc.
Check your position and update your course as plotted on your chart. Prepare alternative routes to more protected areas. If you think you will be in for relatively long haul prepare some hot soup, coffee or stew freak waves may run up beyond the normal high water mark.

If the sea recedes exposing rock and sea bed normally not exposed immediately seek higher ground at least 50m above your current position. Do not try swimming or fishing or other marine recreation during these events. Only extremely experienced surfers will temp their fate under these conditions.

Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from disaster management officers.

Western Cape – Severe Weather Alert

24 May 2020

Western Cape – Severe Weather Alert

The Western Cape Disaster Management Centre has been alerted by the South African Weather Service that severe adverse weather conditions are expected across large parts of the Western Cape starting late this evening.

Members of the public are advised that heavy rain and localised flooding can be expected in the following regions:

–  The City of Cape Town,

–  Overberg

–  Cape Winelands

In addition the SAWS has advised that disruptive snowfalls leading to temporary closure of mountain passes can be expected in the Cape Winelands District on Monday evening, spreading to the Little Karoo mountains overnight into Tuesday.

The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell says the predictions indicate that winter has arrived in the Western Cape.

“While we welcome the wet weather given our drought situation, the concern is that the conditions may cause further challenges during this time of lockdown. We want to urge the public to take extra precautions and to contact the emergency services in the event of any emergency.”

The SAWS further predicts gale force winds and high seas with wave heights up to 9m between Cape Columbine and Plettenberg Bay from Monday morning, subsiding by early Tuesday morning. The winds are expected to move into the Central Karoo region by Tuesday.

“Provincial as well as Municipal Disaster Management Centres are already activated for the ongoing COVID-19 situation and will remain fully operational. The easiest number to remember to call in an emergency is 112. This number can be dialled toll-free from any cell phone. We are also calling on communities to cooperate with local authorities and emergency response personnel in the event of any emergency.”

In case of emergency other relevant numbers to call are:

Cape Winelands Municipality                               021 888 5837

Garden Route District:                                            044 805 5071

Central Karoo:                                                          023 414 2603

West Coast:                                                               022 433 8700

Overberg:                                                                 028 271 8111

City of Cape Town:                                                 107 landline or 021 480 7700

Flooding related Tip Sheet

How Can I Prepare for a Flood?

–  Identify the risk in your local area.

–  Prepare a home emergency plan, and identify risks around your home.

–  Remove leaves (from downpipes or gutters) or any other items that can increase the risk of flooding in your area.

–  Have an evacuation plan. Everyone in your family has to know where to go to find shelter.

–  Prepare an emergency toolkit. This should include a first aid kit, torch and portable radio with batteries, candles and waterproof matches, drinking water, a multi-tool, whistle and emergency contact numbers.

What Should I do during a flooding?

–  Monitor current flood warnings. Listen to the radio for emergency warnings, evacuation advice and weather updates.

–  Avoid entering floodwater unless it is necessary, and never underestimate the strength of floodwater, even if you are inside a vehicle.

–   Follow all instructions from emergency authorities.

–  Turn off all electricity and water and take your cellphone with you.

–  Assist elderly and disabled neighbours.

What Should I do after the flood?

–  Before entering your house, wait until the water has dropped below floor level.

–  Check with electricity and water authorities to know whether it is safe for you to use these resources.

–  Be aware of contamination if water sources have been flooded; this could be unsafe to drink.

Further tips provided by the SAWS:

–  (When moving around outdoors) dress in warm brightly coloured wet weather clothing.

–  If caught unawares by strong wind, barricade windows with wooded panels or strips (or furniture if needs be).

–  If ordered to evacuate do so immediately and in an orderly fashion. Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from disaster management officers.

ENDS.

Media enquiries:

James-Brent Styan

Spokesperson for the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell

Mobile:  084 583 1670 / Telephone: 021 483 2820 / E-mail:  James-Brent.Styan@westerncape.gov.za

Severe Weather Alert

The Cape Town Weather Office has issued the following severe weather alert:

Hazard: Snow
Alert Level: Advisory
Valid From (SAST):25/05/2020 – 00h00
Valid To (SAST): 25/05/2020 – 00h00

Is expected over high-lying areas of the Western Cape province on Monday (25/05/2020).

Hazard: High Seas
Alert Level: Advisory
Valid From:25/05/2020 – 00h00
Valid To (SAST): 25/05/2020 – 00h00

High seas with wave heights of 6.0-7.0m are expected between Alexander Bay and Plettenberg Bay on Monday (25/05/2020).

Descriptions: Snow

Snow is precipitation in the form of flakes of crystalline water ice that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material.

Precautions: Snow

If driving decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop, you should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.  Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges. Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from disaster management officers.

For more information or to report incidents, contact the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at 044-805 5071.

Garden Route Business Impact and Continuity Survey March 2020

Recently our lives and specifically our businesses have been affected and disrupted by droughts, crime, energy issues / load shedding and now the Corona COVID -19 virus.

We wish to gather information from you as business owners and leaders as to the impact the disruptions are having on your business. Hence the survey is designed to gather a high-level insight into the impact on businesses and measures taken to ensure sustainable business operations. Read more…

Please click on the link below to complete the survey.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BusinessImpactSurveyMar2020

The survey consists of 12 questions and should not take you more than 10 minutes to complete.

MEDIA RELEASE: Health System’s response to physical distancing #STOPTHESPREAD OF COVID-19 GEORGE SUB-DISTRICT

 

Western Cape Government Logo

MEDIA RELEASE

22 March 2020

Health system’s response to physical distancing #StopTheSpread of COVID-19

George sub-district

Thousands of people visit public health facilities on a daily basis and, as the Western Cape Health Department, we need to be responsible and #StopTheSpread to especially protect vulnerable people.

To protect our community, we promote avoiding all situations where human bodies are in contact and reducing the times and places when people come together – including going to a public health facility when it is not necessary.

By keeping your distance from crowded places such as clinics and hospitals, you protect the vulnerable, including the sick and elderly, and safeguard our facilities against the spread of the virus.

Western Cape Government Health therefore requests that unless you require emergency treatment that you please stay at home and seek advice first if unsure. If you need emergency medical care, you must urgently go to your closest health facility.

George sub-district

Primary health care clinics will remain open for essential services.

Chronic patients: Patients with 6-monthly Doctor or Sister appointments to renew their scripts will be able to collect their medication at their clinic but they will not have to draw a folder or have observations done if they are well. A fast lane will be set up at all clinics to ensure limited time in the waiting area. Please check with security on arrival at clinic where the fast lane is situated at your specific facility. Patients are requested to please keep to their appointment times as this will help with decongestion of the waiting rooms.

Dental services: Only management of pain and sepsis with medication will be offered, no extractions or any fillings will be done.

Allied services: Occupational therapy, Physiotherapy, Audiology, social work and Dietician services will be stopped.

Only persons who meet the current NICD screening criteria will be tested for COVID-19 at hospitals and select clinics.

No persons who are well (i.e. those with no symptoms) will be tested.  Members of the public are encouraged to complete an online-self assessment form https://www.westerncape.gov.za/department-of-health/risk-assessment-form or call either the National hotline: 0800 029 999 or Provincial Hotline 021 928 4102. For those who do need testing: do not  just present yourself at a health facility for the test. Contact the facility beforehand to arrange for a date and time to arrive at the facility to be tested.

The main three facilities for testing in your area are:

Conville Clinic: 061 683 4312

Pacaltsdorp Clinic: 0670991719

Thembalethu Clinic: 081 392 4130

Uniondale Hospital: Sr Makok & Sr Du Preez 044 814 1410

Uniondale Provincial Hospital will divert all resources to essential and emergency services:

  • All non-urgent surgery has been cancelled.
  • Specialist clinics will be postponed.
  • Women’s health services and services to pregnant women will continue.
  • Limited ultrasound/sonar services will continue.
  • All non-emergency x-ray appointments will be rebooked.

George Regional Hospital will divert all resources to essential and emergency services:

  • All non-urgent surgery has been cancelled.
  • All Outpatient Department visits will be rescheduled for a later date except high-risk antenatal clinic, dialysis treatment and chemotherapy. The hospital will be in touch with clients who had appointments. If we have not made contact with you, kindly phone the Outpatient Department on 044 802 4408 or 044 802 4455.
  • All day-theatre cases, and planned surgery will be rescheduled.

END

COVID-19 Health and Hygiene Awareness Sessions in the greater Oudtshoorn and Kannaland area

As part of the district-wide intervention to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19, also called Coronavirus, personal hygiene and coronavirus awareness sessions were held in the greater Oudtshoorn and Kannaland areas.

People were informed about the following aspects:

  • What the coronavirus is;
  • How the virus is spread;
  • Symptoms;
  • Treatment;
  • Prevention;
  • Measures that should be in place; as well as
  • The importance of hand washing.

The awareness campaign was rolled-out in the form of one-on-one sessions, poster and pamphlet distribution and group sessions.  During the sessions, emphasis was placed on proper hand wash techniques and the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. The following premises and audiences were reached:

  • Municipalities;
  • Libraries;
  • Community Halls;
  • Hospitals;
  • Clinics;
  • Schools;
  • Crèche’s;
  • Barbers’ and Hairdressers;
  • Food Premises;
  • Police Stations and Courts;
  • Churches;
  • Resorts;
  • Old age homes; and
  • Public Facilities.

Ongoing sessions and outreaches programmes are schedule for weeks to follow.

GRDM Municipal Health Services conducts Corona COVID-19 awareness at St Pauls Primary School

According to Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996,  “Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being and to have the environment protected through reasonable legislative measures”.

In a quest to join forces with the rest of South Africa and to curb the rapid spread of the COVID-19, also called Coronavirus by many, Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) recently embarked on a district-wide intervention by rolling-out a personal hygiene and coronavirus awareness campaign.

To start off the campaign, EHPs of the George office visited the St. Paul’s Primary School in George, where they explained the importance of good hygiene practices to learners.  In a very simplified way, officials engaged with children about COVID-19, focusing on what the disease is; the symptoms; how the virus spreads and methods to prevent the virus.  A practical illustration on proper hand-wash techniques was demonstrated.  This kept learners attentive from beginning to end.

By the end of the session, the Executive Manager of Community Service, Mr Clive Africa thanked the Principal, Mr Baron Calvet for availing learners and teachers to attend the session.  Mr Africa extended a special word of gratitude to the caretakers of the school for keeping the learners bathrooms, which he visited unexpectedly, in such a clean condition.

Through this campaign, the GRDM acknowledges the power of children in helping to educate and inform parents, families and members of the community.  More sessions are underway at primary schools all over the district.

The Portfolio Chairperson of Community Services, Councillor Khayalethu Lose in his address encouraged learners to wash their hands regularly and to live responsibly in order to prevent the virus from spreading.

Mr Clive Africa – Executive Manager of Community Services inspired learners to apply everything they have learned at home.

Learners were very eager and enthusiastic to take part in the discussions.