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27 July 2023 Media Release: Garden Route DM Council raises concerns about climate change

Media Release: Garden Route DM Council raises concerns about climate change

For Immediate Release
28 July 2023

This week at an Ordinary Council meeting hosted at the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Council Chambers on Wednesday 26 July, the Council of GRDM expressed their concern about weather-related incidents. Evidence is becoming clearer of a changing climate, following persistent rain in the Garden Route during the past few months.

Garden Route has become used to the high rainfall during the winter months, however in the recent never-ending periods of rain (more is predicted), with few intermittent days of sunlight, or cloud cover hampering drying out of soil and surfaces these conditions have changed the Garden Route’s landscape with diverse impacts on the agricultural, construction and commercial business sectors, as well as the urban and rural communities dependent on their normal functioning.

Rainfall figures were not exceedingly high throughout the past few months, but the constant floods and the fact that the wet region never had time to shed the water and properly dry out, damaged tarred roads and caused gravel roads to gradually become impassable. Furthermore, the erven of township dwellers with little ground cover, were completely wet for weeks on end.

Farmers on the coastal plateau perhaps suffered the most as productive dairy cows and livestock developed a variety of diseases because of the constantly muddy and wet underfoot conditions.  These cows had to be slaughtered as there is not enough time between rainy periods to recover and with many remain in a doubtful state of health.

GRDM Councillors stressed the need for regional preparedness in dealing with a changing climate, and how to be better prepared for out of the ordinary climate events.  Council also suggested that academic institutions such as universities should be requested for input and guidance, and from what avenues to obtain funding from, for invasive alien plant management and the upkeep of storm water systems. These funds should be sourced from national government where possible.

All this comes at a time when Europe and North America suffers the highest temperatures on record with thousands dying as the air becomes unbreathable and the constant heat unbearable. With this, the United Nations are expressing serious concerns and insisting actions, to dramatically reduce the burning of fossil fuels and that climate change inaction is unacceptable.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) recently co- hosted the Annual Climate Change and Environment Management Indaba with the Nelson Mandela University at the George campus. At the event, experts agreed that the Garden Route is a disaster-prone region, and that more planning needs to be in place even as predictions are that the region is heading to a drier period as the El Nino weather pattern will take effect later this year.

Article by: Cobus Meiring