Category: <span>Environmental Management</span>

11 August 2022 Public Notice: Comment – Public Participation for the Garden Route Coastal Management Programme – Closing 20 August 2022

Public Notice: Public Participation for the Garden Route Coastal Management Programme

The Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme was reviewed and updated, in terms of Section 48 of the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Act (Act No 24 of 2008). As per the provisions of the ICM Act, any amendments that are made to the existing Coastal Management Programme must be subject to the public participation requirements in accordance with Chapter 4 of the Municipal Systems Act, prior to being Gazetted.

Notice is hereby given that the Draft Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme will be available for review and comment from 20 June 2022 to 20 August 2022. The draft Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme 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. Hessequa Municipal Office, Mitchell Street, Riversdale;
  8. Plettenberg Bay Public Library; Saringa Way, New Horizons, Plettenberg Bay;
  9. Knysna Public Library, Memorial Square, 2 Main Street, Knysna;
  10. George Public Library, Corner Caledon and Courtenay Streets, Camphersdrift, George, and;
  11. Garden Route District Municipality website: www.gardenroute.gov.za/documents/

The District Municipality hereby invites comments from interested and affected parties on the draft reviewed Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme. Any comments and inputs submitted will be considered during the finalisation of the draft document for final approval and Gazetting.

Written submissions may be directed to the Municipal Manager using the following address:
Garden Route District Municipality, Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, 54 York Street, George or Private Bag 12, George, 6530 or via email to info@gardenroute.gov.za on or before 20 August 2022.

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 to nina@gardenroute.gov.za.

Click here to download the Official Notice and Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme.

M Stratu
MUNICIPAL MANAGER
GARDEN ROUTE DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY

20 June 2022 Media Release: Environmental management and climate change under the spotlight at Garden Route Indaba

Media Release: Environmental Management and Climate change under the spotlight at Garden Route Indaba

For Immediate Release
20 June 2022

The Annual GREF/Garden Route Environmental Management and Climate Change Indaba will be hosted by the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) in Wilderness on 23 June 2022.

The theme for the event is:  Preparing the environment for a changing climate.”  The Garden Route has been feeling the brunt of climatic changes during the past few years, manifesting in the form of unprecedented wildfire disasters and prolonged drought, in especially, the northern parts of the district as well as severe flooding in some coastal areas in November last year. In order for the GRDM to better prepare the region for what lies ahead in terms of climate change, stakeholders will gather to share experiences and ideas.

The Annual Garden Route Environmental Management and Climate Change Indaba in George is an institutional arrangement, and it continues to provide a strong and valuable platform for cooperation and communication between all entities on matters central to sustainable environmental management and climate change.

Environmental management under the spotlight following the Durban flooding disaster

“For years to come Durban and the surrounding countryside will suffer from, and personally experience the deadly and destructive impact of the 2022 floods. Government, as well as landowners and resident communities, will do well to learn and act from what happened, and that set of impacts also apply to the flood-prone Southern Cape and areas elsewhere along the coast and the interior of South Africa,” says Cobus Meiring, programme director for the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) event.

“Besides substantial and traumatic loss of life in Durban, the damage to the environment and hard infrastructure is significant and will require enormous amounts of money and human resources to recover and rebuild from scratch.”

“History proved many times over that KwaZulu-Natal is prone to flooding and should have been better prepared to deal with these events as and when they occur, but this time around, nobody could have foreseen the severity of the recent flooding.”

Says Meiring: “In hindsight, however, there were several actions and interventions that could have made a significant difference in nurturing and better managing the surrounding natural infrastructure (rivers, wetlands, catchments and feeder streams) in order to soften the blow to the city and environment. Many lives could have been saved and billions of rand damage to infrastructure and the significant knock-on effect to the already battered economy could have been prevented.”

“There are obvious and practical ways to better prepare any city for flooding and dramatically reduce the impact of severe flooding, such as ensuring that stormwater systems are permanently clean and free of obstructions. More often than not the dire state of many of our rivers, streams, catchments and wetlands detrimentally reduce their ability to deal with floods and the critical function they deliver.”

“Perhaps because of the costs associated with eradication and clearing, the destructive effect of invasive alien plants (IAPs) on natural infrastructure must be understood.”

“River systems clogged up by IAPs cannot fulfil their basic role which is to channel rushing waters and prevent damage to riverbeds and riverbanks. When invasive alien plants replace indigenous vegetation, rivers cannot keep soil structures intact and assist with recovery following floods. Vast amounts of invasive plant biomass washed away by flooding rivers in Durban accumulated en masse against infrastructure such as bridges, stormwater channels and culverts, and in the process caused their total destruction resulting in even more severe downstream devastation.”

According to Meiring, the function and ability of wetland systems to dramatically reduce the impact of flooding waters are still misunderstood. “Their unfortunate destruction over time – through channelling and draining the water they retain and release to make way for development and farming – and invasive alien plant encroachment worsened the Durban flooding exponentially.”

“Thousands of tons of litter and plastic washed down by flooding rivers are sure signs that rivers and catchments are used as dumping sites, and in the process lead to riverbank and hard infrastructure destruction. By reducing illegal dumping this effect can be reduced,” says Meiring.

“Illegally built structures along riverbanks, steep slopes prone to landslides and structures in low-lying areas prone to flooding will increasingly become a death trap as the likelihood of severe flooding increases with changes in rainfall patterns and as the impact, driven by climate change, take effect.”

“Lastly, in high-risk areas, local and regional authorities should invest in early warning systems and evacuation procedures. It is also critical to consider awareness creation and public consultation to ensure that community safety becomes a bigger priority,” adds Meiring.

Feature image: Biomass from uprooted invasive alien plants in rivers and catchments during floods has a devastating impact on infrastructure and the environment.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Cobus Meiring: Programme Director for the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) Climate Change Indaba Event
Cell: 083 626 7619
Email: cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

 

17 June 2022 Media Release: World Day to combat desertification and drought: Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline Project

Media Release: World Day to combat desertification and drought: Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline Project

For Immediate Release
17 June 2022

The Greater Oudtshoorn region continues to be plagued by ongoing droughts, and alternatives have had to be found to ensure water security for the region. Since 2018, the water supply from the Raubenheimer dam was under severe pressure as the amount of water available from the dam, exceeded the amount that could be relied upon with a 98% degree of assurance. The future and ongoing supply of water in the Oudtshoorn area is severely constrained and drastic measures had to be planned to address the situation urgently.

Furthermore, the Vermaaks Rriver boreholes near Dysseldorp are used to maximum capacity and the Huis River, which supplies De Rust with water, is unreliable during the summer months, which holds negative implications for the Klein Karoo Rural Water Supply System (KKRWSS).

The Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline is a project that was started in 2001 to investigate and develop alternative and additional water supplies for the Oudtshoorn area. Nine deep, and three monitoring boreholes were drilled in the Blossom’s wellfield, which were monitored and tested for 13 years. The test was completed in 2014, and it was concluded that the boreholes yield enough groundwater to supplement the water supply from the Raubenheimer Dam. It was determined that 60l/s (5Ml/day) can be supplied from 5 existing boreholes within the C1 Blossoms wellfield. The test also found that the impact on the environment would be minimal.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) approved a license for the total yield of 8 million m3/a for the ultimate full development of the Blossoms wellfield and gave the nod for the construction to commence. Originally, the project was intended as a medium to long-term bulk water augmentation intervention but given the current water crisis in the Oudtshoorn area, it will be implemented soon.

Funding for the current phases of the project, which started in February 2022, comes from the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant, which allocated a total of R47 million. To date, more than R150 million was spent, which was co-funded by DWS and Oudtshoorn Local Municipality. The current phase of the project is expected to be completed by March 2023.

ends

 

14 June 2022 Public Notice: Notice of Public Participation for the Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme

Public: Notice of Public Participation for the Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme

The Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme was reviewed and updated, in terms of Section 48 of the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Act (Act No 24 of 2008). As per the provisions of the ICM Act, any amendments that are made to the existing Coastal Management Programme must be subject to the public participation requirements in accordance with Chapter 4 of the Municipal Systems Act, prior to being Gazetted.

Notice is hereby given that the Draft Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme will be available for review and comment from 20 June 2022 to 01 August 2022. The draft Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme will be available for viewing at the following Places:

  • Garden Route District Municipality, 54 York Street, George;
  • Mossel Bay Public Library, 99 Marsh Street, Mossel Bay;
  • Hessequa Public Library (Gouritsmond Library), 9 Kerk Street, Gouritz;
  • Plettenberg Bay Library;
  • Knysna Library;
  • George Library; and
  • Garden Route District Municipality website.

The District Municipality hereby invites comments from interested and affected parties on the draft reviewed Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme. Any comments and inputs submitted will be considered during the finalisation of the draft document for final approval and Gazetting.

Written submissions may be directed to the Municipal Manager using the following address:
Garden Route District Municipality,
Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu,
54 York Street / Private Bag 12
George
6530 or/
E-mail: info@gardenroute.gov.za on or before 01 August 2022.

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 download the Official Notice and Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme.

1 June 2022 Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners focus on restaurants about safe food handling

Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners focus on restaurants about safe food handling

For Immediate Release
1 June 2022

Five (5) keys to safer food training is a key focus area for Garden Route District Municipality’s Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) to educate the public about. EHPs focus mainly on formal and informal food traders about food safety. Recently, the Mossel Bay EHP team visited food handlers and management of Delfinos, Piza ē Vino, Kingfisher, Big Blu, Patricks and Kaai 4 for exactly this.

Neo-Lay Britz, an EHP from the Mossel Bay sub-office, explained: “Safe food handling is of utmost importance to ensure that quality food is sold to the public. Dangerous bacteria can contaminate food and cause food poisoning if the five keys to safer food are not adhered to”.

The GRDM EHPs, in their educational sessions, focus on the following 5 keys: keeping clean, the importance of separating raw and cooked food, cooking thoroughly, keeping food at safe temperatures; and using safe water and raw materials.

Here are the details of all the keys and their respective tips:

KEEP CLEAN

  • Hands should be washed before and during the food preparation process.
  • Premises should be kept clean, which includes the equipment used, in order to ensure that pests such as cockroaches, mice and rats do not gain access due to the availability of food (food spills, refuse bins and dirty dishes).

SEPARATE RAW AND COOKED FOOD

  • Use separate equipment and utensils for the different types of raw and cooked food.
  • Raw and cooked food should be stored in separate containers.

COOK THOROUGHLY

  • Proper cooking kills most dangerous bacteria, studies have shown that cooking food up to a temperature of 70˚C can help ensure food is safe for consumption.

KEEP FOOD AT SAFE TEMPERATURES

  • Bacteria can multiply very quickly if food is stored/ kept at room temperature, it should either be kept below 5˚C or above 60˚.
  • Food products should be defrosted/ thawed at the correct temperature and not be kept on the table in the hot kitchen during the course of the day.

USE SAFE WATER AND RAW MATERIALS

  • Safe water and raw materials such as fruit and vegetables should be used.
  • Only meat bought from an approved butchery/ abattoir should be used.
  • Choose safely processed foods such as pasteurized milk.

The GRDM EHPs are the first point of contact in ensuring that workplaces are safe, hygienic, and healthy places to work in.

If you become aware of non-compliance, please report it to 082 804 5161.

Feature Image: Environmental Health Practitioners from Garden Route District Municipality in Mossel Bay with employees from a local restaurant.

ENDS

15 March 2022 Media Release: Growth And Development Of The Agricultural Sector In The Garden Route

Media Release: Growth And Development Of The Agricultural Sector In The Garden Route

15 March 2022
For immediate release

Clyde Lamberts from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture was invited to speak at the first Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) Forum of 2022 and his focus was on the growth and development strategy of the department for the Garden Route. He opened his comprehensive presentation with the following quote by Allan Savory:

“Agriculture is not crop production as popular belief holds – it’s the production of food and fiber from the world’s land and waters. Without agriculture, it is impossible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy”.  

To put this quote into perspective, Lamberts shared one of the Department’s recent success stories: A farm in Herald was in a dilapidated state due to a lack of interest in purposing the land. A businessman who was passionate about farming bought it, and spent the next five (5) years turning it into a viable business that now produces honeybush and proteas. He is the first black commercial farmer to produce honeybush in the Southern Cape. It is because the Department assisted him that his business was able to create sixteen (16) permanent jobs, with opportunities for an additional twenty (20) seasonal workers.

Before this, in Waboomskraal, the Department assisted another farmer, who became the first black farmer in the area to produce proteas and hops.

Lamberts noted: “When all spheres of government work together in an integrated fashion, these are the type of results we will see”. 

Lamberts listed the activities and services the Department provides to farmers and all other stakeholders as the following:

  • Independent agricultural advice and information
  • Supporting Livestock farmers – Development program. Livestock Forum
  • Performance testing/annual evaluation/ID limitations and opportunities
  • Investigating and implementing new hardy breeds and crossbreeding
  • Investigations in lowering inset cost through conservation agriculture – cover crops
  • Investigations into pasture species for marginal lands
  • Crop production advice and information
  • Niche crops/markets
  • Training

The type of training that is provided includes evidence-based and practice-based farmers’ capacity building. This is done through farmers’ days, demonstrations, peer-to-peer learning, and face-to-face interactions. Since 2018, the department trained 820 beneficiaries and this ranged from vegetable training to farm implement operation training.

The Department has a memorandum of understanding with GRDM and vacant land has been identified that the municipality owns which is conducive for agricultural development opportunities. The Department is researching the potential of commodity processing facilities in the Garden Route, which will be a source of immediate job creation – a game-changer for job creation in the region.

The Department furthermore envisions the building of Agri-Business Platforms for clients where potential products can be processed ready for consumption. Through Conservation/Regenerative agriculture, farmers are encouraged to rehabilitate and look after their own soil to turn it into organic matter that fertilizes with very few chemicals. Trials on livestock projects have yielded very positive results to date, and the global view is that going regenerative holds many financial and ecological benefits.

Agritourism needs to be promoted as it holds several untapped opportunities for the tourism sector. There is a need to compile tour packages to visit farms and processing facilities for both local and international tourism. The Roads Department has a role to play as well, as it must ensure easy access through regular road maintenance and upgrades.

The Department is in the process of revisiting mechanization which would allow for a central point that offers services such as ploughing, for example, as well as repair and maintenance services on farm implements.

Lamberts concluded his presentation by saying that we can be very proud of our district and that the Department is very excited to continue its work in the area.

05 February 2022 Media Release: Algae in Blind River, Dana Bay

Media Release: Algae in Blind River, Dana Bay

For Immediate Release
5 February 2022

Please note that the blackish residue in the Blind River, Mossel Bay, is caused by algae growth. Algae often decompose alongside riverbanks and look similar to oil residue.

Samples last year that were lab-tested, confirmed that it was algae.

Cape Nature was also contacted, and they confirmed the natural cause of algae and organic material decomposition that looks like blackish oil residue. This is eminent in water sources alongside the garden route lakes areas.

For air quality-related queries and complaints, contact the GRDM Air Quality office for any applicable air quality complaints under the GRDM jurisdiction.

The office number is 044-693 0006 during office hours (Monday – Thursday, 07:30 – 16:30; Fridays from 07:30 – 13:30).
Dr Johann Schoeman
Manager: District Air Quality Control
jschoeman@gardenroute.gov.za
Tel: +27 (0)44 693 0006 | +27 (0)84 317 9167
ENDS

 

02 February 2022 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality Once Again Celebrating World Wetlands Day on 02 February

Garden Route District Municipality Once Again Celebrating World Wetlands Day on 02 February

For immediate release
2 February 2022

Today, 2 of February 2022, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is once again celebrating the World Wetlands Day. World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually and aims to raise awareness globally about the vital role of wetlands for humans and the entire world’s eco-system.

A significant number of wetlands can be found throughout the Garden Route, including one protected under the Ramsar Convention. The internationally known Wilderness Lakes Ramsar Site falls within the Garden Route National Park, covering an area of 1 300 hectares and includes estuarine lakes of Rondevlei, Langvlei and Eilandvlei, the Serpentine channel, and a dune system. A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention; an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The treaty provides for national action and international cooperation to conserve wetlands and to use their resources in a sustainable manner.

The wetlands within the Garden Route are considered to be high-value ecological infrastructure. They provide vital habitat for flora and fauna, which forms part of a larger critical ecosystem to the environment. These include flood attenuation, water filtration, erosion control and water storage (regulatory services), as well as food provision, supply of raw materials and clean drinking water (provisioning services). The wetlands within the municipal boundaries also play a pivotal role in disaster risk management, as well as reducing the impacts of climate change.

Dr Nina Viljoen, Head of Environmental Management at GRDM said: “Within the Garden Route however, a significant number of the wetlands are under threat, or have already been lost. This is largely due to historical degradation, deliberate draining of wetlands to make way for development and agriculture, inappropriate development within the close proximity to the wetlands, poorly regulated agricultural practices, contamination through chemical, sewage, effluent and stormwater seeps, sedimentation, water abstraction and the spread of invasive alien plants”.In light of this, Dr Viljoen added that there is an urgent need to increase awareness of wetland importance and to incorporate natural wetland resource considerations into municipal governance mechanisms and planning. She emphasised: “Careful management, and investing in the maintenance of healthy wetlands, as well as the rehabilitation and restoration of damaged or degraded wetlands, are needed. This will ensure the continued provision of these vital ecosystem services to the municipality”.

GRDM Wetlands Strategy (2017-2022)

The GRDM developed a Wetlands Strategy (2017-2022) in collaboration with, and support from, the Local Action for Biodiversity: Wetlands South Africa (LAB: Wetlands SA) programme, and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, Africa Secretariat (ICLEI AS). Through the development of this Strategy, gaps in the support of wetland management within the district were identified, and improved wetland management strategies were therefore incorporated within the Strategy.

The GRDM Disaster Risk Assessment (2020-2021)

The GRDM recognises that wetlands are of immense value, especially when it comes to disaster risk reduction.  According to a GRDM Disaster Risk Assessment (2020-2021), wetlands have the ability to contribute towards disaster risk reduction by means of its flood attenuation, water filtration and related water security functions. These functions are also extremely important in climate change adaptation, and needs to be conserved in order to assist in the mitigation of future climate change risks. The GRDM therefore seeks to enhance the conservation and management of the districts’ natural wetland resources. This is done by integrating biodiversity issues into its local government support, planning and decision-making processes.

As part of its disaster risk assessment, the GRDM identified a high flood risk in the coastal and lagoon areas of the district, particularly during the winter months. This impact is worsened by increasingly degraded wetlands.

According to the GRDM Climate Change Report (2018), most wetlands are classified as either ‘moderately modified’ (between 25% and 75% of the wetland land cover is natural) or ‘heavily to critically modified’ (less than 25% of the wetland land cover is natural).  Wetlands within the district therefore face a significant number of threats, all of which have the ability to either destroy the wetland entirely, or severely compromise function and provision of ecosystem services.

In order to conserve wetlands in the Garden Route, and to reduce the number of threats they are facing, Dr Viljoen said: “The GRDM, its local municipalities within its area of jurisdiction, as well as all the stakeholders, need to adapt to a ‘new normal’. The complex interactions between society and wetland ecosystems need to be approached in an integrated way, she added”.

It is essential to increase the monitoring and regulation of new environmental authorisation applications that will impact wetlands. Through this, sustainability projects will be identified that will benefit the neighboring communities to identify community upliftment opportunities and products/services for sustainable wetland use. This will allow the prioritisation of wetlands and the implementation of innovative and internationally-used approaches to help reach sustainability goals and objectives. It is essential that the municipalities within the Garden Route district compile the best available spatial information on wetlands for inclusion in their Spatial Development Frameworks (SDF’s), as well as to include wetland management within their Integrated Development Plans (IDP’s).

The following related GRDM documents can be accessed on its website:

ENDS

31 January 2022 Media Release: Floods, tourists and the Garden Route environment

MEDIA RELEASE: Floods, tourists and the Garden Route environment

For Immediate Release
12 January 2022

“The very real threat of the renewed lockdown and travel restrictions with the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in South Africa over December 2021 did not materialise. With golden beaches, lakes and rivers open for use after closure in the summer of 2020, tourists flocked to the Garden Route in their thousands,” says Cobus Meiring, convener of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Just prior to the festive season, heavy rains and fairly severe floods did do their usual damage to infrastructure in and around George, with some roads and related infrastructure damage still in need of repair.

“Natural infrastructure, such as mountain catchments and rivers, was also not spared. There are visible fresh scars on feeder streams on the George (Outeniqua) mountainside and damage to certain river channels was also reported. There were also reports about dam walls on farmland that collapsed causing even more downstream havoc,” says Meiring.

“Heavy rainfall and subsequent floods are perfectly normal occurrences and the Garden Route, most certainly, is no stranger to them. However, we can expect and prepare for a lot more in coming years. Predictions regarding changes in South African rainfall patterns brought about by a changing climate indicate that the Garden Route will increasingly be subjected to episodic rainfall events and less of the soft but persistent rainfall the region has been accustomed to.”

“Severe weather patterns affecting the Garden Route are nothing new, but as the most recent rainstorms and flooding causing havoc in the town of George and surrounds are testimony of, their impact can be severe and seem to be on the increase with the passing of time enhanced by the advent of the unpredictable impact of a changing climate and resultant changes in rainfall patterns.”

Says Meiring: “The way in which urban and semi-urban areas contend and cope with severe downpours of rainstorms differs completely from how nature would be able to do so if left undisturbed and in a natural state.”

“The energy from flooding and fast-flowing water following hard and sustained downpours in an urban context is multiplied exponentially by a lack of indigenous vegetation on the landscape, degraded and denuded riverbanks and systems as flooding water gains momentum and volume when it flows over hardened (paved/ tarred) surfaces, stormwater channels and eventually river systems.”

“In a natural environment, flooding occurs as a natural phenomenon and is a part of a healthy system, but the severity thereof is curtailed by natural barriers such as vegetation on the landscape, wetland systems that slow flooding waters down considerably and trapping sediment, plants such as Palmiet and reeds.”

Population influx posing many challenges to local authorities

The Southern Cape is falling victim to its own scenic beauty, perceived political stability and capable governance and is fast becoming a top destination for many living in the South African interior.

According to Meiring, the significant influx of people poses a huge challenge in many respects, both from environmental management and a local government perspective. As a mere example, it is reported that as many as two thousand new housing units will be built over the next three years alone between George and Mossel Bay, and that excludes informal and undocumented urban sprawl.

“Not only are the Garden Route towns not designed to accommodate unlimited expansion, but the regional environment suffers permanent and irreversible damage as biodiversity cannot survive a fast-shrinking natural habitat which inevitably has to make way for ever-increasing developments and urban sprawl,” says Meiring.

“Perhaps, more importantly, the Garden Route has limited resources – the supply of fresh water and the availability of land suitable for development are but two limitations.”

“For the Garden Route to maintain at least a semblance of a viable environment, and without losing its sense of place, much more attention must be given to planning for the future. Interaction between those responsible for local government and those managing the environment is vital,” concludes Meiring.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a regional forum and public platform for collaboration in conservation, environmental adaptation and community interaction. It is a think tank for national, regional and local government, conservation bodies, academics, the media, landowners and land managers, active in the full spectrum of environmental matters in the region. Website: https://www.scli.org.za/gref/

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Cobus Meiring: Convener of Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF)

Cell: 083 626 7619

Email: cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

 

Picture: New development

Sprawling new developments have a permanent impact on the survival of biodiversity in the Garden Route. (Photo: SCLI)

27 October 2021 Media Release: First case of Avian Influenza reported in the Garden Route

Media Release: First case of Avian Influenza reported in the Garden Route

For Immediate Release
27 October 2021

Yesterday, 26 October 2021, the first confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) bird death was reported in the Hessequa municipal area. Currently more than 13 000 birds in South Africa have died from this disease, of which most are Cape cormorants (Phalacrocorax capensis).

According to Gerhard Otto, Manager: Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Disaster Management, the epicentre of the outbreak is at Dyer Island, which is also the main breeding island of these specific species in our country. “A wide range of seabirds, including pelicans, gulls, and cormorants have been affected,” said Otto. “We are concerned about HPAI, as veterinarians from Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds recently indicated that the outbreak could wipe out an entire endangered species of cormorants.”

“HPAI is a highly contagious viral disease of birds with no curative or preventative treatment,” reported the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

Otto stated that “regular patrols are being conducted by Cape Nature and burial sites have already been identified for the region”.

To keep tabs on the spread of this outbreak, GRDM developed a standard operating procedure for call centre employees to follow when dealing with reports about bird deaths. The GRDM Disaster Management Centre urges the public to be vigilant and report unusual mortalities or abnormal numbers of sick birds to their local conservation authority, state veterinarian or the 24/7 GRDM Emergency Call Centre on 044 805 5071.

SANCCOB, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, CapeNature, SANParks, Garden Route District Municipality, Local Municipalities and local veterinarians are collaborating to monitor and manage the situation.

ENDS

Feature image: Cape Cormorant bird (iStock)