Garden Route to move away from red-tape and move towards a red carpet for skills development

Garden Route District Municipality (Garden Route DM), in collaboration with Hessequa Municipality, hosted its second Garden Route Skills Summit in Stillbay on 7 February 2019. This annual event is hosted to review the progress made in terms of establishing the Garden Route as a Skills Mecca. More than 100 delegates from the public and private sectors came together to discuss and plan the next phase of the Skills Mecca initiative.

More than 100 delegates from the public-and-private sectors attended the Garden Route Skills Summit at Stillbay in Hessequa.

The first Skills Summit was held in George during February 2018 with the aim of stimulating debate around training and skills development for the Garden Route District and the seven Local Municipalities within its jurisdiction. The idea was and continues to be to attract students to relocate and study in the Garden Route, which will provide an economic injection for the Garden Route.

Mr Solly Fourie, manager of the Western Cape Government’s economic development and tourism department, explained the importance of partnerships between various training institutions. He also said: “The Western Cape Government believes that there is a need to move towards a situation where large-scale industrial development in rural towns should be incentivized – we need municipalities to assist us in this process”. From this “move” it is evident that more jobs will be created, which will be aligned to skills needs.

Councilor Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor of Garden Route DM, who was also the keynote speaker, indicated that Garden Route DM identified a property where a three million rand skills centre will be built. “The first phase will focus on skills required by a district municipality, including firefighting, disaster management and law enforcement, to name a few. Other municipalities will also, on a later stage, be asked to share their skills shortages with us to include in the training institution,” said Cllr Booysen. He reminded government representatives not to “be in competition with other municipalities in our region – this is not conducive of growing the district into the country’s leading skills mecca.”

Cllr Booysen also vowed to move the District away from “red-tape and move towards red carpets when it comes to skills development.”

Later during the programme, group discussions were facilitated by a number experts in the fields of: agriculture and processing (Clyde Lamberts); tourism and film industry (Rushka Eli); Oil and gas (Paul Hoffman); smart cities and technology (Gill Cullinan); timber industry (Karl-Heinz Niemand) and training and development (Elsie Potgieter).

Ms Elsie Potgieter, South Cape College Principal, facilitates a group discussion about training and development at the Garden Route Skills Summit.

A ‘show and tell’ session also took place where four municipalities were given the opportunity to showcase a project that was implemented within their municipal area. Garden Route DM presented their Cater Care Project, Hessequa presented a people-centred project, Bitou a lifesavers training initiative and Knysna a rapid-response programme for the environment.  Cheri-Lynn Speelman (Lecturer: Francois Ferreira Academy) and Yonela Khweleta (Intern: Francois Ferreira Academy), former students of the Cater Care training programme, which is financially spearheaded by Garden Route District Municipality and presented by the Francois Ferreira Academy, formed part of the winning team. Garden Route District Municipality’s Cater Care Programme was identified by delegates as the most successful out of all initiatives presented.

Dr Florus Prinsloo from the Western Cape Government’s department of economic development and tourism reviewed 2018’s resolutions and adjusted it based on feedback from the group discussions and other participating members.

The 2019/2020 resolutions announced at the Garden Route Skills Summit are:

  1. Continue and accelerate collaboration and cooperation among all District skills development role players.
  2. Ensure that skills development leverages digital infrastructure as far as possible to ensure learning and processes methods are and remain of a cutting edge nature.
  3. As far as possible, link skills development to investment and economic development opportunities to the advancement for all.
  4. Ensure that all skills development processes in the Garden Route always proactively considers renewable energy.
  5. Engage with all willing partners, in particular, the SETAs and the National Skills Fund, to explore the development and implementation of projects across the district.
  6. Consider and leverage local skilled people, including retired people, within the district, to accelerate the growth of the Skills Mecca.
  7. All public and/or private skills development projects and/or programmes in all municipalities are acknowledged, recorded on Skills Mecca online solution and supported within resource limitations.
  8. Progressively support the development of the new apprenticeship of 21st Century (A21) in the district.
  9. Budget, plan and implement an annual Skills Summit that is held in a different local municipality rotationally and alphabetically….2020 – Knysna – proposed on 5 March 2020.

Upcoming Garden Route DM Skills Summit – 7 February 2019

The Garden Route District Municipality, in collaboration with the B-municipalities in the district and the Western Cape Provincial Government, will be hosting the annual District Skills Summit on Thursday, 7 February 2019 in Stillbaai, a coastal town within the Hessequa Local Municipal region. 

This year’s summit follows a resolution taken at the 2018 Garden Route District Skills Summit held on 1 February 2018 in George, during which it was resolved to take the concept of a Garden Route Skills Mecca forward and review progress on an annual basis.   

The idea of a Skills Mecca originates from the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI), which followed the devastating fires that hit the district (Knysna/Plettenberg Bay) in June 2017.  Since last year’s summit, municipalities in the district, in collaboration with various stakeholders, among others, the Provincial Government,  progressively worked together in order to bring about and implement the Garden Route Skills Mecca concept.

The 2019 Skills Summit will focus mainly on the achievements of the previous year’s implementation of the summit resolutions. The “show and tell” (presentation/competition) will give municipalities an opportunity to showcase a project that was implemented within their respective municipal areas.

Another objective of the 2019 Skills Summit will be to discuss the progress of establishing the district-wide Skills Mecca made thus far,  and also to evaluate the resolutions  determined in 2018 towards  making the Garden Route a preferred pristine destination for learning in the country and continent.   

Other role-players involved are:

– MECs

– District Mayors

– District Municipal Managers

– Corporate Services Managers

– LED Managers

– Tourism Managers

– Skills Development Facilitator

– Youth Coordinators

– Various government departments

– Western Cape Government

– Local Businesses

– Garden Route Business Chambers

– Hessequa Business Chambers

– Local NGOs

The following resolutions were taken during the 2018 Skills Summit:

  • Continue and accelerate collaboration and cooperation among all district skills development role- players born out of the GRRI;
  • Become involved and add value to the Garden Route Skills Development Strategy for a Skills Mecca across the district;
  • Ensure that the Skills Mecca concept leverages digital infrastructure as far as possible, to ensure learning and processes methods are and remain cutting edge;
  • As far as possible, link Skills Development to Investment and Economic Development opportunities to the  advancement for all;
  • Ensure that all Skills Development processes in the Garden Route ALWAYS consider and proactively
  • considers Water – a Shared Resource.
  • Ensure that all current and emerging skills development intervention in each municipality is supported and built into the Skills Mecca concept;
  • Consider and where possible; efficiently and effectively include the skills needs of Municipality in the Garden Route District, in the development and roll out of the Skills Mecca;
  • Engage with all willing partners, in particular the SETAs and the National Skills Fund, in order to explore the development and implementation of projects across the District as an integral part of the Skills Mecca.
  • Consider and leverage local skilled people, including retired people, within the District, to accelerate the growth of the Skills Mecca; and
  • Within the next six months a new skills project is started within each of the six focus areas within at least one local municipality

Municipalities are expected to prepare and present a case study of an actual skills development project implemented within their municipality at this year’s Summit. A ten minute presentation will form part of a competition to determine the annual Garden Route Skills Mecca Champion for 2018.  Presentations will be evaluated by the delegates on the day of the event through a simple ballot system.  Each case study will be judged against three criteria:

  • Did the partnerships in the project add value? – Yes or No?
  • Did the project support transformation in a creative way? – Yes or No?
  • Did the project make learners more employable? – Yes or No?

The envisaged outcome of the Summit is to ‘’fine-tune” the resolutions from 2018 and develop ideas on how to accelerate implementation of the Skills Mecca in the Garden Route. The Skills Summit will be an annual event on a rotational basis; municipalities therefore also need to budget and plan towards this purpose. The 2018 Skills Summit attracted approximately 350 people and for this year, arrangements are being made to accommodate 250 – 300 people.

For more information contact the GRDM’s Training and Development Section, Mr Reginald Salmons at 044 803 1363. 

Official Launch of GRDM Training Programmes

This year, 2019, marked the beginning of a prosperous year for approximately 120 young people from the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay municipal areas, as they benefited from the Garden Route Municipal Training Programmes, which includes:  First Aid Level 3 Training; Driver’s License Training and Law Enforcement Training.

These training programmes originated from the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI), which was established after devastating fires hit the district (Knysna/Plettenberg Bay) in June 2017, and the need for a District Skills Mecca was identified.

The Training Programmes are funded by the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and is managed through the Office of the Executive Mayor, under the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).  The project’s primarily focus is on youth development in the Garden Route, building capacity among young people; breaking the chain of unemployment and ensuring a marketable labour force in the region. 

The GRDM Executive Mayor, with his delegation, political leaders and officials from the Bitou Municipality, Service Providers and beneficiaries of the Training Programmes.

During the official launch of the training programme, which kicked-off in Plettenberg Bay, the Deputy Mayor of the Bitou Municipality, Cllr Sandile Gcabayi, warmly welcomed guests and applauded the District Municipality for the initiative of providing skills development opportunities to young people in the district.

Cllr Sandile Gcabayi, Deputy Mayor of the Bitou Municipality, during the official welcoming at the launch of GRDM Training Programmes in Plettenberg Bay.

The Manager in the Office of the Executive Mayor, Mr Siphiwe Dladla, briefly explained the background, purpose and objective of the project.  When elaborating on the selection and recruitment process he emphasised that according to the number of applications received, the need to continue with the programme is evident.  He ensured the audience that representation from all wards and areas of the greater Plettenberg Bay and Knysna were covered during the selection process.  Lastly, he explained that the First Aid Level 3 course will be an entry level, where after participants will be able to further their studies to become paramedics.

Manager in the Office of the Executive Mayor, Mr Siphiwe Dladla, gave a brief background and overview of the Programmes.

In his keynote address, the Garden Route DM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, stated that the Garden Route Municipal Training Programme will be rolled-out in all 7 B-municipalities in the district.  He further explained that the Garden Route, in collaboration with various stakeholders, among others, the Provincial Government is in the process of establishing a Skills Mecca. He raised a concern that participants are not taking opportunities seriously and said: “People complain that they are unemployed, but when we provide opportunities to enter the employment arena, they do not take it seriously.  Remember, you must be the ones who need to give the opportunities to those who did not make it into the programme, the first time around, because if this programme becomes successful, we will continue with the roll out “.

Later in the day, the second launch of the Programme took place at the Knysna Municipality.  Beneficiaries from Knysna and surrounding areas attended this remarkable gathering.  The Executive Mayor of Knynsna Municipality, Cllr Mark Willemse, officially welcomed guests and extended a special word of gratitude to the Garden Route DM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, and his delegation for an amazing initiative.

The programme followed the same route as in Plettenberg Bay.  In conclusion, the EPWP Manager, Mr Richard Dyantji, introduced the Service Providers appointed to train the participants.  He encouraged the participants to make use of the opportunity given to them, to “grab it with both hands and run with it”.  Subsequent to the formalities, service providers were given the opportunity to discuss the course layout with the participants.

Mr Richard Dyantji, EPWP Manager at GRDM as well as Programme Manager of all EPWP related training programmes during his address at the launch.

During the past festive season, participants of the previous law enforcement training programme acted as peace officers and assisted the two municipalities to uphold law and order.  The Garden Route Municipal Training Programme will be rolled-out to other municipal areas within the Garden Route District.

The children of any nation are its future.  A country, a movement, a person that does not value its youth and children does not deserve its future – Oliver Tambo

Air Quality officials contribute to workshop held at NMU

The Sub-directorate:  Environmental Law Enforcement (Region 3), George of the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning recently requested the Air Quality unit of Garden Route District Municipality, to do a presentation at the George Campus of Nelson Mandela University (NMU), as part of their annual Structural Practical Workshop.

Dr Johann Schoeman, District Manager for Air Quality Officer at Garden Route District Municipality, during his presentation to the students.
Student listen attentively to the presentation made by Mr Angus Andries, District Air Quality Officer, at Garden Route District Municipality

The Air Quality Unit was invited for the purpose to share information and educate the NMU second year students registered on the University’s Forestry and Wood Technology programme, on the basic Environmental Law and Management Principles.

This year, the Air Quality Unit once again partook in the session. Dr Johann Schoeman, the District Air Quality Manager, and Mr Angus Andries, the District Air Quality Officer from Garden Route District Municipality, presented the topics ‘Introduction to Air Quality Management,’ as well as ‘Atmospheric Emissions Licencing and the roles and responsibilities of the emission control officers in the Wood Drying industry’.

The presentations were well received and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning commended the Garden Route District Municipality for their input at the workshop.

WARNING -Veld Fire Conditions

Hazard Alert
Valid from
Valid to
Veld Fire Conditions Warning 28/01/19 – 09h00 29/01/19 – 18h00
Veld fire conditions expected in places over the northern West Coast District and Peninsula of the Cape Metropole (Western Cape) today (Monday), but only in places over the Namakwa District (Northern Cape), Central and Little Karoo (Western Cape) tomorrow (Tuesday).
Description: Dangerous veld/bush fire conditions
Whenever there are prolonged periods of little and no rain coupled withwarm dry winds, veld or bush fires can easily be sparked and will spreadrapidly in strong winds.

Precautions: Dangerous veld/bush fire conditions
Do not make fires in the open and/or leave fires unattended. Do not throw cigarette butts out of cars or in the open veld. Do not throw bottles in the veld as they can magnify the sun’s rays and start fires. Prepare and maintain fire breaks in controlled manner. In the case of a large fire, report it immediately and move away from the area to let the professionals deal with it. Never throw water onto a fire started by an electrical fault or fires started by oil or paraffin lamps. In this case, sand or a blanket should beused to smother the fire. Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from Disaster Management Officers. 

Description: Extremely High Temperatures
When temperature and the humidity is high at the same time, or when
the temperature exceeds a certain threshold, human’s ability to cool theirbodies through sweating is reduced. This can be a real threat that may leads to hyperthermia.

Precautions: Extremely High Temperatures
Stay indoors in a cool room near a fan, if possible. The old and infirm must take extra care to stay hydrated and cool. Avoid strenuous outdoor activity, playing excessive sport and hard labour. Dress in light weight clothes and drink plenty of liquids, NOT alcohol.

Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from Disaster Management Officers.

Update on Garden Route DM’s 205-hectare property development in Mossel Bay

1.    Regional Waste Management Facility on Farm 419 Mossel Bay

The Development of a Regional Waste Management Facility on the property of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Farm 419, will be finalised by the end of 2019. 

The facility will occupy +-70% of the 205-hectare property (approximate size of 143.5 hectares) belonging to GRDM.  A private partner was selected by GRDM and a Public Private Partnership agreement will soon be entered into between the District Council and the company. Constructing and operating the facility for a period of ten years will be the responsibility of the appointed company.

Bitou, Knysna, George and Mossel Bay Municipalities will make use of the Waste Management Facility which will deal with domestic and hazardous waste disposal. Mobile chipping and crushing facilities will be included to assist the four Local Municipalities with Green Waste Management.

In addition to the Regional Landfill Facility, the following two proposals were received and are subject to all applicable legislation, application requirements and approvals. One proposal was received from Ikusasa Processing Engineering Consultants (PTY) Ltd and the other from Moumakoe-Geza Joint Venture. Sufficient land (+-30% of the 205 hectares of land) is available on Farm 419 for these developments.

 2.    Ikusasa Processing Engineering Consultants (Pty) Ltd

The Garden Route Investment Conference, which was held in March 2018, stimulated the interest of two multi-national companies to invest in the Garden Route. One of the two, which is known as Ikusasa Processing Engineering Consultants (PTY) LTD, approached GRDM with a proposal stating their intent to erect a chemical plant that will support the wide variety of sectors in the region and outside portion of Farm 419 in Mossel Bay. The size will be determined once the necessary plans are finalised and presented to the Garden Route District Municipality and approved by Mossel Bay Municipality. Necessary studies i.e. EIA’s will also have to be undertaken for this proposed development.

3. Moumakoe-Geza Joint Venture

Moumakoe-Geza Joint Venture has recently requested to lease 10 hectares of GRDM land, which forms part of Erf 419, adjacent to PetroSA for the construction of lubricant oil or a lube oil blending plant. The plant will have the capacity of producing 20 800 000 liters of blended products per annum. Studies have revealed that South Africa has a lubricant demand of 2 million barrels per annum. This project is, therefore, a win-win solution for the Garden Route in terms of social and economic development. Necessary studies i.e. EIA’s will also have to be undertaken for this proposed development.

Update on the Kannaland water shortages and the region’s water status

Most of the southern towns of the Garden Route District have bulk water in storage to address their current water demand, at least until the first winter rains. The northern parts of the Garden Route District are not looking good at the moment. Currently, the towns Calitzdorp and Zoar in the Kannaland Municipal area do not have a secondary water supply apart from their bulk storage dams.

In July 2018 the Raubenheimer dam, which is the main water source for Oudtshoorn, was at an extremely low level of 31%. Fortunately, rain over this area and a drop in the daily consumption lead to an increase in this dam’s level to 53,54% (measured at the end of December 2018). In addition to the Raubenheimer dam, Oudtshoorn has access to the Blossoms Wellfield that could still be connected to provide groundwater that would be able to sustain the basic water needs of about 50 litres per person, per day, should the town face a “day zero” scenario.

Unfortunately, the Kannaland municipal area is in a less fortunate position in terms of their main water supply at Nel’s Dam, which is located in Calitzdorp. The dam is at an alarmingly low level of 11%, leaving the town with approximately five months of water. In Zoar, the main source of water, the Tierkloof Dam ran dry after Christmas and their alternative source the Jongmansland dam on an farm Amalienstein which is at a 12% level. The water demand in this area is 1.4 megalitres of water per day, at the current rate of abstraction water in storage would last only for the next month.

The average water usage per household in the region is as follows:

  • The smallest amount of water on average being used by households is in Oudtshoorn @ 121 litres per person per day;
  • George 126 litres per person per day;
  • Knysna 156 litres per person per day;
  • Hessequa 168 litres per person per day;
  • Bitou 180 litres per person per day;
  • Mossel Bay 189 litres per person per day; and
  • The most water being used per household is in Kannaland @ 314 litres per person per day.

Background on the situation in Kannaland

On 28 December 2018, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Disaster Management Centre was contacted by Kannaland Municipality, who raised concerns that Zoar could run out of water due to the Tierkloof Dam level dropping to 10%. The Jongmansland dam, which is also an emergency augmentation dam in Kannaland was at a 20% level of water.  Another issue is that the municipality has been experiencing serious challenges at their water purification works. The water treatment works are not equipped to deal with the poor quality of water supplied from both these dams. At the Calitzdorp water, purification works pose a similar problem, but added to this, the quality of water fed to town from the Nel’s dam had to include additional purification measures to ensure that the water quality stays fit for human consumption.

The GRDM Disaster Management Centre advised the Kannaland Municipality’s Technical Services to lower the pressure from the main water reservoirs that are supplying water to Zoar. The goal is to lower usage to 70 litres per person per day.

GRDM Disaster Centre also provided 3 x 5000-litre water tanks to be placed at the higher situated areas in Zoar, as these areas would be first to be affected due to the pressure reduction in the system. In addition, 1 980 x 5 litre bottled water (9 900 litres) and 7 992 x 2-litre bottle water (15 984 litres) were provided to be distributed to affected residents.

On the 17th of January 2019 the GRDM Head of Disaster Centre, Mr Gerhard Otto, joined the Kannaland Mayor, Cllr Magdalene Barry and Kannaland Municipal Manager, Mr Reynold Stevens in a meeting with Zoar community leaders to discuss the urgency of the town’s water situation as well as to inform community leaders that drastic steps would have to be taken to reduce the town’s water demand. Later on the same day, the GRDM Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu and GRDM Executive Management met with the Kannaland Municipal Manager and his team to discuss the assistance required from the GRDM.

At this meeting, it was agreed that at this point in time both the towns, which include Ladismith and Van Wyksdorp, are not of immediate concern, but that the focus should be on Zoar and Calitzdorp’s.  Steps will now be taken to ensure that water augmentation is prioritized and in place for the latter mentioned two towns. In order to address these urgent needs, a meeting with Provincial as well as National stakeholders was scheduled for Friday the 18th of January 2019.

On Friday, 18 January 2019’s meeting, the following action steps were resolved:

Due to immediate capacity constraints, the Provincial Department of Local Government will deploy a full-time engineer to assist Kannaland to develop and implement both short-and medium-term drought interventions;

  • Groundwater consulting firm GHT has recently completed a groundwater augmentation study for both the towns Calitzdorp as well as Zoar. The findings of this study will form the basis of emergency interventions and will not only include drilling but equipping and linking of these groundwater augmentation sources to these towns;
  • The Provincial drought awareness team would be called upon to assist with the immediate roll-out of a drought and water conservation awareness campaign in the greater Kannaland area;
  • The irrigation of the bulk of the Lucerne at the farm Amalienstein will be stopped in order to conserve the water available in the Jongmansland dam. The Provincial Disaster Management Centre, as well as the Provincial Department of Local Government, will meet with the Department of Agriculture and the management of the Amalienstein farm (CASIDRA) in order to come to a suitable agreement in terms of the purchase of fodder for the animals at Amalienstein due to the foreseen loss of lucerne production;
  • From Monday the 21st of January 2019 the Kannaland Technical team will implement water shedding in Zoar as the demand needs to be reduced from the current 1 400 000 million litres of water per day to less than 350 000 litres per day;
  • The Kannaland Municipal Disaster Management Centre have requested  20x additional 5000-litre water tanks from the GRDM to be placed in Zoar as well as at water-stressed communities in the rural Kannaland Municipal areas.

At the GRDM Council Meeting on 21 January 2019, the following was resolved:

  • The GRDM Council has approved the purchasing of 20 x 5000-liter water tanks and cement retainer blocks to be used to erect platforms for these tanks at a cost of R120 000.00.
  • Rent of 34 000 litre water tanker for a period of three months to assist with the filling of these tanks as well as tanks previously placed at water-stressed communities in the rural Kannaland Municipal areas will be paid at a cost of R240 000.00.
  • The purchasing of 20-litre water containers will be distributed to households in Zoar to be used during water shedding at a total cost of R140 000.00.
The Nel’s Dam in Calitzdorp is currently at an alarming 11% of its capacity.

Visitors applaud Garden Route DM resorts after their 2018/2019 holiday stay

Employees of the Garden Route District Municipality (Garden Route DM) resorts were warmly commended by guests who visited one of the four resorts of Garden Route DM during the 2018/2019 summer holiday.  These resorts include: Swartvlei Resort, Victoria Bay Caravan Park, De Hoek Mountain Resort and Calitzdorp Spa.

Calitzdorp Spa

The Victoria Bay Caravan Park was fully booked from 15 December to 04 January, the Swartvlei Resort from 15 December to 2 January, De Hoek Mountain Resort was full from 24 December to 02 January and the Calitzdorp Spa was 65% booked from 24 December to 2 January.  This period is regarded as the most critical period of the peak season.

Swartvlei Caravan Park

“This year, visitors left from as early as 2 January, due to the early start of the schools,” Willie Fourie, Manager of Resorts at the Garden Route DM said.  “With regard to the use of alcohol, visitors were prohibited from using alcohol at the pool areas to ensure the safety of all,” Fourie added.

De Hoek Mountain Resort

Most guests described their stay as an “absolutely amazing experience” and the facilities and overall area as “neat, safe and as an area well-managed”.  Apart from the experience of the stay, the staff members at all resorts were commended for their friendliness and helpfulness. One of the visitors said:  “We felt safe all the time and really appreciated how well managed the entire area was”.

Victoria Bay Caravan Park

These four resorts are known for their diverse characteristics, practical and convenient locations and are liked by many for the quality of service they offer during a visitor’s stay.

Council and Management would like to extend a word of appreciation to all Resort staff for their continuous commitment and dedication to ensure that all visitors of the Garden Route DM resorts are well looked after.  Visitors to these resorts will always regard their stay as an experience which they will always remember.

A selection of reviews received from the visitors:

  • “Rarely do we appreciate the good that various government organisations are doing and I think that your establishment is definitely worth mentioning.”
  • “You called from your cell number and assisted us in such a wonderful and friendly manner, even though it was passed midnight.”
  • “Thank you for coming to check up on us on the Saturday as well, your efficiency and professionalism is truly the very reason the space is so well managed and kept so beautifully.”
  • “The facilities and location was really well maintained, the toilets were always clean and the grounds beautifully maintained.”
  • “Service staff were very friendly and helpful and always smiling and willing to help; even the law enforcement.  We felt safe all the time and really appreciated how well managed the entire area is.” 
  • “We aren’t regular campers and this has made the experience and the concept of camping really amazing and we thank you and all the various team members, it has really been one of many trips to a place that is so amazing.”
  • “Ons was baie goed ontvang en verwelkom deur kampeerders.”
  • “Hoop dit gaan die begin wees van vele vir ons…baie dankie.”
  • “Dankie vir ‘n netjiese en vredevolle kampterein :)”
  • “Thank you for an amazing five day stay. What a super friendly place… It has been a long time since we stayed in a caravan park and I loved it.”
  • “Ons het weer heerlik gekuier.”
  • “Again to you and your municipality well done!”

Environmental management is key to the Garden Route future

15 January 2019

“At the launch of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF), launched in December 2018 in Mossel Bay, the event programme was packed by national and regional environmental scientists and specialists,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) Secretariat.

Addressing various subjects relevant to the Garden Route environment, there was a common thread throughout all the presentations, namely that unless we take note of the various factors changing our environment, and plan well ahead in accordance, we are heading for an uncertain future.

Poor in infrastructure and resources, including fresh water, the Garden Route is not suitable nor capable of sustaining large populations.

Climate change is partly to blame for the drying out of the western and northern parts of the Garden Route, and the demise of agriculture in badly-affected areas are real and seemingly irreversible, as farmers and those dependent on making a living off the land are forced to make a new start elsewhere.

“Compounding the situation, over the past two decades we saw exponential growth in regional population, as well as a steady increase in tourists and holidaymakers,” says Meiring.

The steady economic demise of the Eastern Cape is not doing the Southern and Western Cape any favours as rural populations move south in the hope of finding a better life.

Cities such as East London and Nelson Mandela Bay are much better suited to accommodate vast populations in coming years, but continued political uncertainty, regional mismanagement and failure to increase economic growth options leave rural communities no choice but to leave the province.

According to Meiring, migration to cities is a worldwide phenomenon, and the RSA Government is well aware of the challenges lying ahead in managing the seemingly non-reversible trend. 

“True to RSA politics, the national discourse does not recognise the imminent dangers to the population brought about by climate change and urban migration, and the inability of the government to plan for, and address the demands of the future, is alarming.”

“Enhanced populist policies, increased racial tension and economic divisions are drawing attention away from ensuring a resilient environment where the RSA population may stand a better chance for survival.”

As a mere example, by allowing the implosion of raw sewage management systems feeding into the Vaal River, and the resultant demise of freshwater systems, including exponential growth rates of invasive alien plants in catchments, will no doubt impact on the ability of Gauteng to sustain its burgeoning population.

Similarly, the Garden Route population must realise the value of its natural resources and the importance of the protection and management thereof. Ensuring that mountain catchments, rivers and seep lines are clear of invasive alien forests depleting freshwater resources and posing severe fire risks, are perhaps the most important environmental management challenge.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) was launched on 11 December 2018. GREF is an environmental coordinating body, mandated by the Garden Route District Municipality.

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.



Cobus Meiring: Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) Secretariat

Cell: 083 626 7619


GRDM’s Climate Change Team visits the Klein Karoo Sustainable Dry lands Permaculture Project

Ms Alex Kruger is explaining to the group the different types of natural clay that can be used as building material.

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is committed to investigating adaptive climate change initiatives and successes. It is for this reason that the climate change team late last year visited the Berg-en-Dal Farm in Ladismith, which is the home of the Klein Karoo Sustainable Dry lands Permaculture Project (KKSDPP), founded in 1999. During the visit, the municipality’s climate change team was taken on an interactive and eye opening tour by Ms Alex Kruger, who passionately explained each step of their many diverse examples of sustainable climate change adaptation and mitigation examples. The KKSDPP provides a dynamic training environment on the concept of permaculture and its positive impacts on environmental sustainability within an uncertain future. The project team is providing working examples of a wide range of natural building approaches, waste and water recycling, sustainable energy generation and food production, amongst others, to illustrate climate change adaptation and mitigation as part of a sensitive yet dynamic socio-ecological system.

The severe and disastrous impacts of climate change calls for Municipalities to think differently about adaptation. Climate change is no longer a hypothetical future possibility, but an inescapable fact of everyday life. As climatologists become more certain about human effects on global atmospheric composition and their consequences, extreme weather events become ever more common and slower trends such as sea level rises and changes in seasonal weather patterns continue. The most recent summary report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reaches some stark conclusions. It predicts, with high levels of certainty, continued rises in global mean surface temperatures if greenhouse gas emissions are not abated, and alongside this, greater and more frequent extremes of heat, global increases in precipitation, and continued loss of Arctic sea ice. It also suggests that continued changes in many aspects of global climate systems are likely even if temperatures stabilise, and raises the possibility of abrupt shifts in some of these. As our understanding of the significance of climate change deepens, the view that responses will involve a transformation in human relationships with nature becomes increasingly widespread. It is an invitation to re-assess humanity’s place in the world, and to transform global society in ways that allow our continued survival. The concept of permaculture originated in just such a re-assessment, and has become a significant impetus for such a transformation.

Permaculture is the conscious design of human living environments that are reflections of the ecological principle that underlies nature. It includes a diversity of concepts, knowledge, strategies, tools, techniques and practices that are reshaping the world and providing compelling visions of what is possible. The permaculture principles are clear examples of how we can restructure, regenerate, restore, and renew, as part of the necessary tools for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

The KKSDPP is offering a wide diversity of services, courses, events and consultations to the public. They form a dynamic component of a network of permaculture and alternative living practitioners and organisations that spans the globe. The Garden Route District municipality appreciated this new and refreshing view of climate change adaptation – one that is exciting, inspiring, and engaging, and one that calls on us to step up to the adaptive challenge of climate change adaptation.

For more information on the KKSDPP or their various courses and initiatives on offer, please contact Ms Alex Kruger at or 072 241 1514.  

Ms Nina Viljoen Manager: Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Change Adaptation
Tel: +27 (0)44 803 1318 | +27 (0)67 035 9203