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Climate Change

15 March 2024 Public Notice: Public Participation for the Garden Route District Climate Change Adaptation Response Implementation Plan and Needs- and Response Assessment  – For Comment

Public Notice: Public Participation for the Garden Route District Climate Change Adaptation Response Implementation Plan and Needs- and Response Assessment – Notice Number: 30/2024

Open for Comment
15 March 2024

The Municipal Structures Act, 1998 (Act 117 of 1998) provides for the development of a Climate Change Adaptation master plan for the district, and through which local municipalities can develop their Integrated Development Plans.

Notice is therefore hereby given that a public participation period of 30-days will be provided for public comments and inputs on the following two Climate Change Adaptation documents, namely the:

  • Draft Garden Route District Climate Change Adaptation Response Implementation Plan;
  • Draft Garden Route District Climate Change Adaptation Needs and Response Assessment.

Any comments and inputs submitted will be considered during the finalisation of the draft documents for final Council approval.

The documents will be available for public review and comment from 15 March 2024 to 15 April 2024, and will be available for viewing at the following places:

  1. Garden Route District Municipality, 54 York Street, George;
  2. Mossel Bay Public Library, 99 Marsh Street, Mossel Bay;
  3. Hessequa Public Library (Gouritsmond Library), 9 Kerk Street, Gouritz;
  4. Albertinia Public Library, 2 Horne Street, Albertinia;
  5. Still Bay Public Library, Main Road, Still Bay West;
  6. Riversdale Public Library, Van Den Berg Street, Riversdale;
  7. Oudtshoorn Public Library, 3 Baron Van Reede Street, Oudtshoorn;
  8. Ladismith Public Library, 21 Queen Street, Ladismith;
  9. Plettenberg Bay Public Library; Saringa Way, New Horizons, Plettenberg Bay;
  10. Knysna Public Library, Memorial Square, 2 Main Street, Knysna;
  11. George Public Library, Corner of Caledon and Courtenay Streets, Camphersdrift, George, and;
  12.  Garden Route District Municipality website at:
    1)  https://www.gardenroute.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Draft-Garden-Route-District-Climate-Change-Adaptation-Response-Implementation-Plan-2024.pdf

        2) https://www.gardenroute.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Garden-Route-District-Climate-Change-Adaptation-Needs-and-Response-Assessment-2024.pdf

Written submissions may be directed to the Municipal Manager on/before 15 April 2024 using the following address:

Garden Route District Municipality, Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, 54 York Street, George or PO Box 12, George, 6530 or via email to info@gardenroute.gov.za.

Any person who is unable to write can submit their input verbally to the Council’s offices where they will be assisted by a staff member to put their comments in writing. Enquiries can be directed to Dr Nina Viljoen at 044 803 1318 or e-mail nina@gardenroute.gov.za

M Stratu
MUNICIPAL MANAGER
GARDEN ROUTE DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY

Click here to open the Official Notice

25 January 2024 Media Release: Climate innovation catches the eye of corporate finance

Media Release: Climate innovation catches the eye of corporate finance

For Immediate Release
25 January 2024

Changes in rainfall patterns, floods, and droughts brought on by climate change coupled with unreliable energy supply leave citizens with little choice but to independently adjust and look for technology options to ensure sustainability,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

As technology options bring much-needed relief in terms of water and energy supply, they become part of general asset registers and are increasingly attracting the attention of finance institutions like Nedbank, Hortfin and others who are willing to finance green energy, water conservation and circular economy initiatives.

The use of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind, has become a permanent fixture in South Africa in recent years. Not necessarily because of a changing climate and a move away from fossil fuels, but because of the erratic and unreliable power supply caused by mismanagement, a lack of skills and planning and timeous implementation of energy alternatives by central government and SOE’s.

Over time, water resource management in South Africa also had to adapt to compensate for crumbling infrastructure and erratic supply.  Consequently, urban water harvesting, covering swimming pools, and a general reduction in water use following the dreaded Day Zero crisis in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, as well as the current challenges in Gauteng, have become common practices.

Through modern technology, South Africa has developed evaporation prevention measures for stored water reservoirs and storage dams. It will soon become more popular as global temperatures rise and evaporation rates take their toll on stored waters, and will follow the same trajectory as energy alternatives in terms of implementation.

As a result of a lack of suitable sites and catchments, timelines to build, and exorbitant construction costs, the construction of new dams for agricultural, mining, and rural and urban water development is complicated. Considering the downstream impacts of free-flowing rivers on ecosystems and river health, all measures aimed at maintaining and conserving existing water sources are critical.

Dams supplying fast-developing towns such as George and Riversdale are rapidly approaching a point where it can no longer provide adequate supply to the increased demand and alternatives must be found. Oudsthoorn on the other side, is already extracting water from an underground aquafer to augment water security.

Agricultural practitioners need to continue taking measures to significantly reduce water use to ensure that groundwater supplies do not become depleted as a result of overexploitation and consider crops that are less dependent on constant watering to maintain sustainability over time.

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

Featured image caption: Pivot irrigation – Water security in South Africa pose a bigger threat to South African communities than the energy crises.

-End-

6 December 2023 Media Release: GREF to reflect on COP28

Media Release: GREF to reflect on COP28

For immediate release
6 December 2023

The COP28 Climate Change Conference is hosted by the United Nations running from 30 November to 12 December in Dubai and is intended for governments to agree on policies to limit global temperature rises and adapt to impacts associated with climate change, says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) on the eve of its Key Stake- holder event taking place on 13 December in Wilderness.

Reducing the drivers of climate change is easier said than done as the global dependence on fossil fuels is universal and the transition to alternative sources of energy is extremely slow and complex in their implementation as the South African effort towards the Just energy Transition (JET) is a case in point.

COP28 is already finding itself in a highly politicised milieu as major role players, including the United Arab Emirates which is hosting the event in Dubai is questioning the very essence of the global drive towards the reduction of emissions contributing to the global rise in temperature, with 2023 already described as the warmest year in recorded history and 2024 predicted to be worse according to the latest UN report on the matter.

The fact that South Africa is already experiencing an increase in climate related disasters including severe flooding, fire and drought is concerning, and it comes at a time where the country is suffering from the effects of retarded economic growth and environmental mismanagement at all levels manifesting in unbridled development, poverty, joblessness and social unrest as expectations in terms of service delivery are not met by the powers that be.

In the face of the challenges South Africa has to face as the climate changes irreversibly, there is much the country can do to be better prepared for environmental changes, including changes in rainfall patterns which will no doubt impact on the quality of life and future prospects of a fast- growing population facing food, energy and water security uncertainty.

Past and present failure by government at all levels to plan ahead and develop policies that will contribute to better environmental management and the safeguarding of natural resources, especially water and the infrastructure required to ensure that future generations don’t suffer as a result of a lack of responding to early warnings must serve as a wake- up call to all.

The state of South Africa rivers and effluent from defunct sewerage plants, water resource management as well as the failure to address the spread of invasive alien plants and the resultant destruction of bio- diversity will prove detrimental to the country’s ability to cope with the challenges a change in climate will impose upon the nation with its limited resources.

GREF will revisit the outcomes of COP28 during its Annual Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba to be co- hosted with the Nelson Mandela University in June 2024.

GREF is the premier public platform for regional environmental and conservation managers in the Southern Cape.

For more information and enquiries, send an e-mail to louisamare@gmail.com.

Visit www.grefscli.co.za for more information on the GREF

18 September 2023 Media Release: Future water security in the Southern Cape must include innovation and best practice

Media Release: Future water security in the Southern Cape must include innovation and best practice

For Immediate Release
18 September 2023

“Water scarcity, changes in rainfall patterns, climate change, potentially restrictive water license regulations and proposed water quotas with far reaching impacts are all reasons why farmers and other water users are pushing the limits in terms of building new storage dams or enlarging existing ones or channelling water courses, often doing so without obtaining the necessary official permission required, and in the process expose themselves to costly litigation,” says Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI).

Globally agriculture is a major water user and so is mining, industry and human consumption which is rapidly on the increase and posing a complex water demand issue as urbanization world- wide accelerates along with changes in climate.

From an environmental perspective, ultimately ecosystems suffer the most as run- off water is dammed up for storage leaving rivers and streams starved of sufficient supply despite of legally determined minimum reserve flows to ensure their essential ecological survival, having dire impacts on estuaries, aquatic and marine life.

Technology plays a vital role in reducing water consumption on all fronts, and even if difficult to quantify exactly how much collectively it does make a huge difference as farmers invest in advanced irrigation technology, new generation taps and plumbing devices in new developments and permanent water restrictions in towns and cities across the board.

The impact of invasive alien plants in high value catchments is measureable and account for substantial water loss making their constant eradication and control vital. In addition, the prevention of water evaporation on a significant scale holds a key factor in stabilizing water levels in reservoirs globally, and although thus far not utilized on a grand scale, it is an exciting prospect to cover open water surfaces to suppress rapid evaporation rates as heat and drought waves takes effect.

Water management plans for industry designed to regulate, recycle and minimize water use, technology inventions in irrigation and public participation campaigns to reduce water use in cities all make a difference, and is bound to play a bigger role as water demand surges.

In recent times South African water conservation entities have developed floating panels designed for covering large reservoirs over life time periods and no doubt will become a standardized if not essential contributor to water management and preservation systems in years to come. Given the fact that water users dependent on storage dams require no EIA nor permission from water management entities to cover storage dam surfaces, it may well be an additional solution for water stressed entities globally.

Based in the Garden Route, the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) is a public platform for land owners and land managers focussing on invasive alien plant eradication, environmental management and water stewardship.

Cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

Feature Picture: Southern Cape coastal plateau

Caption: The Southern Cape coastal plateau is heavily farmed and dependent on vast volumes of water. Whilst the rate of urbanization in the Garden Route increasingly make demands on the same resource as agriculture, water demand managers must focus on enforced water restrictions, advanced technology options and improved water use management plans

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

18 July 2023 Media Release: Global North’s scorching heat waves foreshadow RSA’s 2024 climate outlook

Media Release: 18 July 2023 Media Release: Global North’s scorching heat waves foreshadow RSA’s 2024 climate outlook

For Immediate Release
18 July 2023

Heat waves in the Global North are a sign of what lies ahead for RSA in 2024, but by supporting local efforts such as the Mandela Day Tree Planting Initiative citizens can make a difference. The theme for Mandela Day 23 is “The legacy lives on through you: Climate, Food and Solidarity.”

“As the Southern Cape is receiving generous- rainfall the wet weather cycle associated with the El Nina weather pattern is about to make way for the dry El Nino pattern over Southern Africa later this year.” Says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Europe is already experiencing sustained extreme hot weather north of forty degrees Celsius on an everyday basis with high numbers of people succumbing to the relentless heat. The Americas is no exception, with enormous cities such as Monte Video in Uruguay literally running out of resources as surface water evaporates faster than replenishment can take place and large storage dams and reservoirs and normally reliable water sources run dry.

As the northern hemisphere summer heat and accompanying warm winds dry out vegetation all it takes to ignite a wildfire disaster is a spark, and out-of-control wildfires is currently raging simultaneously in Canada, the USA and Europe with literally millions of hectares burning to ash with extensive environmental and infrastructural damage.

Already, European tourist destinations are reporting a significant drop in summertime figures with those seeking to escape the severe heat opting to visit less affected countries such as Ireland.

South Africa is currently experiencing the tail end of the wet El Nina weather phenomena and has received very high rainfall figures and even significant snowfall countrywide with some of the most damaging floods experienced in decades in the Western Cape causing millions of Rand losses in harvests, damage to agricultural land as well as hard infrastructure such as electricity, roads and bridges. High rainfall figures imply positive monetary results for agricultural production and with storage dams filled to the brim is good news for the country as a whole, knowing full well that conditions are about to change and that if predictions hold true, then RSA will soon enough experience drier years as of 2024.

A warming planet resulting in a fast-changing climate and changes in rainfall patterns and their intensity is now beyond human control, and adaptation, planning, new technology and risk mitigation hold the key to surviving the “new normal.”

South Africa is seen by some as notoriously self-destructive as far as resource management is concerned, and serious damage to sparse water sources due to a complete lack of capacity, management skills, political indifference and incompetence is present at all levels of government.

Non- management of sewage effluent, crumbling and leaking fresh water infrastructure and non- constant electricity supply and a risky grid seemingly on the very edge of collapse make for the perfect storm, hampering economic growth and stoking the fires of social stress, deprivation and disease.

The question begs as to the way forward knowing full well that the set targets for the planet to avoid much worse changes to the world climate than those correlating with the currently predicted curve, rising sea levels, drought and climate-related disasters causing untold harm to humanity and ecosystems collapse are seemingly not achievable.

Western countries with capable economies are very well aware of what is lying ahead for humanity if they do not act meaningfully, hence their willingness to avail vast amounts of money towards green energy and efforts to mitigate the effects of a changing climate, but politics globally remains firmly in the way of a universal approach and implementation of interventions. The unfortunate invasion of Ukraine by Russia continues to avert attention and resources away from addressing climate change issues, and the world needs solidarity and peace in going forward towards a sustainable future.

The basic act of planting a tree in the Garden Route in celebration of Mandela Day is a true individual action towards addressing climate change.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum is a public platform for climate change and environmental management think tank.

Feature image: Tree-planting is the proposed action for citizens to take on Mandela Day. Image: Shutterstock

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING

Die Tuinroete-omgewingsforum (GREF) voorspel ‘n verskuiwing van nat El Niña- na droë El Niño-weerpatrone in Suider-Afrika, wat kommer wek oor RSA se klimaatvooruitsigte in 2024. Europa en die Amerikas staar reeds uiterste hitte, watertekorte en verwoestende veldbrande in die gesig. In reaksie hierop kan die ondersteuning van plaaslike inisiatiewe soos die Mandeladag-boomplanting ‘n verskil maak. Ten spyte van hulpbronwanbestuur in RSA, is aanpassing by ‘n veranderende klimaat deur individuele aksies, soos boomplant, van kardinale belang. Solidariteit en globale optrede is nodig om die uitdagings wat voorlê die hoof te bied.

GREF is toegewy aan klimaatsverandering en omgewingsbestuur.

ENDS

5 June 2023: A mapping system for visualizing the impact of climate change, socio-economic pressure, municipal and infrastructure collapse in a future South Africa

A mapping system for visualizing the impact of climate change, socio-economic pressure, municipal and infrastructure collapse in a future South Africa

For Immediate Release
5 June 2023

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) approached Dr Roy Marcus, a Systems and Design Thinking specialist, to address the 29 June 2023 Annual GREF Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba on the projected impacts of climate change in South Africa. The impacts, which are amplified by real-time socio-economic pressures and the systemic collapse of governance, high levels of corruption, violent crime, political instability in major municipalities and severe and sustained power blackouts in South Africa are becoming more real every day.

In 2018 Dr Roy Marcus was invited by (GREF) as a keynote speaker to commemorate the devastating June 2017 Knysna wildfire disaster which left a trail of destruction on a scale never seen before in South Africa, and at the time he also visualized a post- Covid 19 South Africa, identifying many of the impacts which are only now manifesting in the RSA economy compounding the destruction and vandalizing of vitally important hard infrastructure, poverty and increased joblessness.

Dr Marcus makes use of a mapping system for visualizing a future South Africa to better understand the socio-economic and political relationships, challenges and opportunities facing the country, for example the Just Energy Transition away from coal-based energy generation towards green energy.

According to Cobus Meiring, convener of the Garden Route Environmental Forum, much of the 2017 series of wildfire disasters, recent drought in the Karoo, flash floods in the Southern Cape and especially KZN, as well as measurable sea-level rise along the Mossel Bay coastline are the result of a changing climate. This is the case not only for South Africa but globally, where out-of-control wildfire disasters have destroyed millions of hectares of land and infrastructure in Canada, Portugal and California.

Says Dr Marcus, “As South Africa emerges from one of its worst political and economic crises since democracy was achieved in 1994, the country finds itself having to cope with the aftershock of the surreal Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, social media was awash with commentaries, advice and a whole lot of confusion.  Sadly, in all of the confusion, there was little evidence of a systemic approach to gain a better appreciation of the real impact of both the virus itself, as well as the raft of legislation that was promulgated to lessen the burden of the pandemic.”

“As a present-day example, we are witnessing the demise of Eskom and Transnet which are both grossly underperforming, and there is a justified fear of what the economic impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resultant precarious RSA foreign policy decisions may have in alienating the country from the Western world, putting the country’s already fragile economic survival at risk.”

There is limited evidence of any discussion relating to the harsh realities the country will face going forward with severely restricted electricity and water security risk on the rise.

In view of these realities, it is suggested that a way of gaining some insight into the effect of the current impacts, as well as testing some ideas that may go some way in alleviating the burden, is to produce a systems map.  Such a map will go a long way to “tell the story” and present some ideas as to what the implications of various actions could be on the long-term future of the country.”

This map attempts to present all the key role players and their influence on the future of this country. The map is based on a Systems and Design Thinking approach and suggests a number of possible outcomes, which could result from either ill-defined decisions or well-informed actions taken by key stakeholders.

Dr Marcus incorporates a mapping system called Kumu. The developers describe the system as a powerful visualization platform for mapping systems and better understanding relationships.

“We blend systems thinking, stakeholder mapping, and social network analysis to help the world’s top influencers turn ideas into impact”.

“Based on a Design Thinking approach, the model sets out to identify all those factors which contribute to the ‘Mess Formulation’. Identifying the “mess” is key to finding a way out of the difficulties. The key question in identifying all those factors that contribute to the mess is to determine how the country would eventually destroy itself if it were to continue behaving as it currently is. The mess provides a factual, verifiable and unemotional picture of the current reality.”

As part of an ongoing debate series on parallels drawn between the impact of COVID-19 and that of climate change, GREF intends to have a follow-up discussion with Dr Marcus in order to track the development of the mapping system and its indicators.

In order to enhance collaboration and the sharing of critical information, the GREF programme for the Indaba will include a host of provincial, regional and local environmental speakers who will focus on land management, environmental risk management, water stewardship, coastal management, legislation, biodiversity and possible future scenarios to enable the region to implement and fast- track adaptation models.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform for environmental management entities in the Southern Cape and a regional think tank on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

  1. Dr Roy Marcus, Design thinking specialist
    Mobile: +27 82 600 0202
    Email: roy@thecollab.co.za
  1. Cobus Meiring: Chair of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) Secretariat
    Mobile: 083 626 7619
    Email: cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

 

Afrikaanse opsomming:

Die Tuinroete-omgewingsforum (GREF) het dr. Roy Marcus genooi om by hul klimaatsveranderingkonferensie op 29 Junie 2023 te praat oor die geprojekteerde impak van klimaatsverandering in Suid-Afrika. Dr. Marcus sal ‘n karteringstelsel genaamd Kumu gebruik om die toekoms van die land te visualiseer en die sosio-ekonomiese en politieke uitdagings wat dit in die gesig staar, beter te verstaan. Die impak van klimaatsverandering word versterk deur sosio-ekonomiese druk en die ineenstorting van bestuur, insluitend korrupsie, misdaad, politieke onstabiliteit en kragonderbrekings. Hierdie kwessies word verder vererger deur Suid-Afrika se stryd om te herstel van sy onlangse politieke en ekonomiese krisisse, sowel as die nasleep van die COVID-19-pandemie. Die karteringstelsel het ten doel om insigte in die huidige impakte te verskaf en potensiële oplossings te verken. GREF beplan om samesprekings met dr. Marcus voort te sit om die ontwikkeling van die karteringstelsel en sy aanwysers te monitor. Die konferensie sal ook sprekers bevat wat onderwerpe aanspreek wat verband hou met omgewingsbestuur en aanpassingsmodelle.

15 May 2023 Media Release: Indaba to reflect on invasive alien plant management and control scenarios

Media Release: Indaba to reflect on invasive alien plant management and control scenarios

For Immediate Release
15 May 2023

“In February 2023 academics from Nelson Mandela and Stellenbosch Universities co-hosted a workshop with knowledgeable experts on the subject in order to share thoughts and experiences on the impact and possible solutions when dealing with invasive alien plants on a large scale.  It is quite clear that invasive alien plants remain one of the biggest risk factors facing the Southern Cape in terms of severe wildfire disasters, damaging floods, water security as well as loss of biodiversity,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

“Dr Romain Pirard who holds a PhD in Environmental Economics from Université Lyon presented at the workshop. Dr Pirard is seconded to the School for Climate Studies at Stellenbosch University which, as part of the South Africa – France scientific cooperation, develops research on the economics of land use for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and he provided some leading answers to the question:- Can value-added industries support the control of invasive trees in South Africa and beyond?”

Meiring added that “Because of its favourable climate and it is a high rainfall area, the Southern Cape is a hotspot for a host of invasive alien plants and trees, and their presence is on the increase with more species becoming visible as they spread over the landscape.  Pampas grass as a prime example of an alien invasive plant (there are many more) which was introduced as a garden plant in this region in the last fifteen to twenty years is now firmly established throughout the Garden Route landscape, especially in river beds and seep- lines where conditions are ideal for seeds travelling in the wind, and the spread is prolific.”

“Due to costs associated with eradicating and controlling invasive alien plants in general, landowners and land managers are constantly looking for options to mitigate the expense of dealing with IAP’s, which include options in the clean energy sector, soil enrichment as well as bio-char and stock feed mixes. Invasive trees such as pine, wattle and eucalyptus make for fine timber, but finding suitable trees in large quantities is not sustainable, and difficult to come by and harvest before they can reach sawmills. Supply is also finite throughout the region as there are no structured replanting nor harvesting regimes in place.”

“The charcoal and firewood industry in South Africa and Namibia is a multi-million rand industry, but as demand grows, those in the industry have to reach further and further away from the market to source sufficient supplies.  Areas of the Southern Cape and the Overberg have large areas covered by Rooikrans, Port Jackson, wattle and pine and that is where large-scale harvesting is currently taking place. Despite the potentially viable option to clear the land of unwanted plants and trees by selling the biomass to contractors looking for firewood, some landowners who allow harvesting entities access to their land often complain that harvesting contractors cause more harm than good when working with invasive species on their land. This can lead to aggressive regrowth when there is no methodology applied, and increased wildfire risk from dry debris left behind provides an exponentially high volume of fuel load for wildfires”.

Nevertheless, the search for solutions for the viable use of large volumes of biomass that can be harvested from landscapes badly affected by IAP’s must continue, and Dr Pirard will be delivering a presentation on the topic at the GREF Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba which will be hosted at Nelson Mandela University on 29 June 2023.

“The GREF 2023 Indaba theme is Creating climate-smart, resilient landscapes in the Southern Cape.”

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform and climate change think tank for all those in the Southern Cape involved in active and ongoing conservation and environmental management efforts to meet up, interact and showcase what they are busy with and what they are doing in terms of planning ahead.

ENDS

Photo caption: The Southern Cape is a hothouse for invasive alien plants such as pampas grass, pine and eucalyptus which is now seen all over the Garden Route
Photo: Pamela Booth
Contact: cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

Indaba sal indringer-uitheemse plantbestuur- en beheerscenario’s bespreek

Akademici van Nelson Mandela en Stellenbosch Universiteite het onlangs ‘n werkswinkel gereël om die impak en potensiële oplossings vir die hantering van indringerplante op groot skaal aan te spreek. Cobus Meiring van die Tuinroete-omgewingsforum het beklemtoon dat IAP’s aansienlike risiko’s vir die Suid-Kaap-streek inhou, insluitend ernstige veldbrande, skadelike vloede, watersekuriteitskwessies en verlies aan biodiversiteit. Dr. Romain Pirard, ‘n kenner van omgewingsekonomie, het by die werkswinkel ‘n voorlegging gelewer waar hy sy insea gedeel het oor of waardetoegevoegde industrieë die beheer van indringerbome in Suid-Afrika en verder kan ondersteun.

Die Suid-Kaap, met sy gunstige klimaat en hoë reënval, is veral vatbaar vir ‘n verskeidenheid van indringer uitheemse plante en bome. Spesies is alreeds teenwoording en neem toe en versprei drasties. Pampasgras het byvoorbeeld stewig gevestig in die Tuinroete-landskap, veral in rivierbeddings waar windgedraagde sade ideale toestande vir voortplanting vind.

Die uitwissing en bestuur van IAP’s is duur, wat grondeienaars en bestuurders aangespoor het om kostedoeltreffende opsies te soek. Hierdie alternatiewe sluit in die ondersoek van geleenthede in die skoon energiesektor, grondverryking, en voorraadvoermengsels. Dit bly egter ‘n uitdaging om volhoubare en volop alternatiewe vir indringerbome soos denne, wattel en bloekom te vind, aangesien daar geen gestruktureerde herplant- of oespraktyke in plek is nie.

Die houtskool- en vuurmaakhoutbedryf in Suid-Afrika en Namibië is ‘n winsgewende sektor, maar die vraag na voorrade het gelei tot verkryging van verre plekke. Grootskaalse oes van indringerspesies, soos Rooikrans, Port Jackson, wattel en denne, vind tans in gebiede van die Suid-Kaap en Overberg plaas. Terwyl die verkoop van biomassa aan kontrakteurs wat vuurmaakhout benodig lyk na ‘n lewensvatbare opsie, spreek sommige grondeienaars kommer uit dat oeskontrakteurs meer skade as goed kan veroorsaak. Onbehoorlike metodologie kan lei tot aggressiewe hergroei, en droë takke ens. wat agtergelaat word, verhoog die risiko van veldbrande deur oorvloedige brandstof te verskaf.

Ten spyte van die uitdagings, moet die soeke na oplossings om groot volumes biomassa van IAP-geaffekteerde landskappe te benut, voortduur. Dr. Pirard sal ‘n aanbieding oor hierdie onderwerp lewer by die GREF ‘Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba’, wat geskeduleer is om op 29 Junie 2023 by die Nelson Mandela Universiteit plaas te vind.

Die tema van die Indaba is “Die skep van klimaatslim, veerkragtige landskappe in die Suid-Kaap.”

GREF dien as ‘n platform en dinkskrum vir natuurbewaarders en omgewingsbestuurpraktisyns in die Suid-Kaap streek, wat interaksie fasiliteer, deurlopende pogings ten toon stel en toekomstige beplanning bevorder om klimaatsverandering en omgewingsuitdagings aan te spreek.

24 April 2023 Media Release: Preparing for a changing climate indicates that all is not bad news for the Southern Cape

Media Release: Preparing for a changing climate indicates that all is not bad news for the Southern Cape

For immediate release
26 April 2023

“A battered economy and several high profile local and global challenges such as continued power outages and the Russian invasion of the Ukraine grips South Africa’s socio- political attention and at the same time  divert vital focus away from the growing impact a of a changing climate and the challenges it already pose,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

“Despite these challenges there are positive signs of sincere efforts to plan ahead, and GREF wishes to keep a clear view on climate change and the impact it has already  bestowed on the Southern Cape over the past decade, including unimaginable wild fire disasters in June 2017 and 2018, persistent drought and slow but measureable sea level rise resulting in coastal degradation, and as rainfall patterns change, the advent of episodic rain storms resulting in flash floods destroying millions of rand worth of often irreplaceable infrastructure.”

“ The present and predicted impact of climate change is well known and solutions to lessen and mitigate its impact are well chartered, but more often than not targets are difficult to achieve as government spending required to act pro- actively is subdued as a result of a shrinking local economy and a myriad of urgent socio- economic issues to address, including the needs of impoverished jobless communities, unsustainable rates of urbanization and the deterioration of South Africa’s vital infrastructure backbone including power, water, roads and railways and falling behind the global curve in modernization and technology.”

“ Despite all  the challenges mentioned,  positive progress is being made as South Africa and its citizenry does show a clear understanding of the challenges it has to prepare for, and with the private sector and private landowners investing on an unprecedented scale in ensuring their own future survival in terms of green and sustainable energy options and by putting water security measures in place, including fresh water harvesting , water evaporation prevention and reducing the presence of invasive alien plants on their land, topped by significant foreign investment packages such as western financial funding aid to assist the country towards a just energy transition are major positive strides and is setting a platform for a more sustainable future.”

GREF will be hosting its Annual Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba on Thursday 29 June at the Nelson Mandela University George Campus.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform and climate change think tank for all those in the Southern Cape involved in active and ongoing conservation and environmental management efforts to meet up, interact and showcase what they are busy with and what they are doing in terms of planning ahead.

Photo caption: Critically endangered biodiversity in the Garden Route is under threat from climate change and rapid urbanization – Image – Cobus Meiring.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Cobus Meiring: Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF)

Cell: 083 626 7619

Email: cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

13 October 2022 Media Release:  GRDM Disaster Management Section developed a GreenBook to plan for future climate change

Media Release:  GRDM Disaster Management Section developed a GreenBook to plan for future climate change

13 October 2022
For immediate release

As part of International Disaster Risk Reduction Day (IDRR), the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) focused on Climate Change adaptation. According to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, new risks will be prevented, and existing risks will be reduced. The document outlines seven targets and four priorities for action, including:

  • Understanding disaster risk;
  • Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk;
  • Investing in disaster reduction for resilience; and
  • Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

According to Gerhard Otto, GRDM Head of Disaster Management: “As part of a partnership with Santam and CSIR, GRDM recently launched a Greenbook, which is an open-access tool to support municipalities in planning climate resilient communities”.

“GRDM forms part of a national climate change adaptation initiative that has been launched in three provinces in South Africa,” said Otto.

The purpose of the Greenbook is to encourage resilient, sustainable, and liveable settlements by incorporating climate change adaptation into municipal development planning. The Greenbook provides an overview of current and likely future trends to the year 2050, related to settlement dynamics, climate hazards, and impacts that climate change will have on South African towns and cities. The tool is capable of linking every settlement risk profile to customizable adaptation actions also known as risk reduction initiatives that can be integrated into local strategies, programs and projects.

Furthermore, the GRDM recently updated its Disaster Risk Assessment and is able to use the tool to identify areas in need of urgent intervention. Not only does the tool provide an extensive overview of priority risks (current and future trends), it also provides disaster risk reduction initiatives recommendations to be considered and their likely impacts if implemented correctly.

In order to achieve the seven targets and the four priorities outlined in the Sendai Framework, the Greenbook has been launched. You can access it at http://greenbook.co.za/ .

All local municipalities in the region will be trained to incorporate climate change adaptation and promote climate resilient communities into their future development planning processes.

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