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18 January 2024 Media Release: Touw River remains a lifeline for the Garden Route

Media Release: Touw River remains a lifeline for the Garden Route

For immediate release
18 January 2024

“All river systems in the Garden Route are important in terms of water security and the sustainability of terrestrial and aquatic life and the preservation of biodiversity in the region, and the Touw river flowing through Wilderness is a prime example”, says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

The Touw River, with its headwaters high up in the Outeniqua mountains, is a vital freshwater resource to Wilderness and surrounding areas, and its estuary and river mouth is very a popular attraction to holidaymakers, recreational activities and form a significant part of the Greater Wilderness Lakes system. The Kingfisher Hiking Trail following the Touw river up the waterfall is one of the most scenic and frequently used regional destinations with literally thousands of visitors per annum.

SANParks, the Garden Route and George Municipalities along with a number of Wilderness conservancies such as the Touw River Conservancy, play a vital role in protecting the ecological integrity of the Touw River, and it truly represents the full bouquet of natural beauty offered by the Garden Route, to those visiting and residing in Wilderness.

As population growth in Wilderness and surrounding areas dramatically increases pressure on the availability of making the Touw River an essential part of natural infrastructure to those dependent on its well-being. As most river systems in the Garden Route, development, agriculture, land degradation and invasive alien plants in the upper catchment of the Touw River all impact negatively on the environmental integrity and well-being of the Touw River.

Risks associated with climate change, including changes in rainfall patterns, drought and floods play havoc with river systems, contributors and wetlands, which in turn affect all life dependent on them. It is for this reason that private landowners in the Garden Route increasingly have to play a role in protecting and conserving the environment to ensure that they retain a high quality of life and environment if the Garden Route is increasingly under threat of losing much of its splendour and biodiversity.

GREF will be placing focus on water security in the Garden Route in the build-up to its Annual Climate Change and Environmental Seminar to be hosted in June 2024 in partnership with NMU and the Garden Route and Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserves.

GREF is a public platform for conservation and environmental management entities in the Southern Cape.

Feature Image: The Touw River is a lifeline to the Garden Route
Photo: Pieter du Preez