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Environmental Management

9 November 2023 Media Release: Natural splendour awaits tourists to the Garden Route

Media Release: Natural splendour awaits tourists to the Garden Route

For immediate release
9 November 2023

“Following an extremely wet winter the Southern Cape is showcasing is natural beauty, and tourists planning to visit the region during the festive season, will not be disappointed,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Following many years of drought and hardship the Klein Karoo environment is also finally recovering and with summer in full swing, the region is flourishing with vegetation, ample grazing and dams filled to the brim. The Outeniqua mountains and the regional coastline still bear the scars of relentless rain and storms during the winter months, but nature is resilient and bound to recover.

The Southern Cape biodiversity is flourishing following favourable rains during the winter months.

The Garden Route is blessed with several custodians of its natural splendour, and with large areas protected and under mandated and private conservation management, the region will always retain much of its marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

Pro-active actions and initiatives by regional conservation entities such as the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve (GRBR), the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR), the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), SANParks, WWF and Cape Nature collectively recognize the importance of conserving the global significance of the Southern Cape biodiversity. In addition to these recognized conservation entities there are numerous conservancies, governmental and environmental management forums and private and public nature reserves present and active in all parts of the region.

A changing climate will bring new challenges to the Southern Cape environment, and with almost unpredictable rainfall patterns new challenges are looming for the environment and the communities dependent on its resilience.

In addition, invasive alien plants dominate large parts of the Southern Cape’s environmentally sensitive mountain catchments, rivers and wetlands, and landowners are fighting an uphill battle in eradication and control of fast- spreading wattles, pine, Rooikrans and a myriad of lesser known invasive species which all pose a significant threat in terms of the destruction of biodiversity, water security and the ever-present danger of wild fire disaster as the summer heat is bound to dry out vegetation in the coming months.

In celebration of regional conservation efforts, GREF is hosting its annual Key-Stakeholder Report-back Event on 13 December in Wilderness, allowing regional environmental and conservation entities to showcase their programmes and initiatives.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform for environmental and conservation management entities in the Southern Cape.


Picture/ caption: The Robinson Pass, South Africa, alive with beautiful yellow, orange, red and pink proteas. The mountains seem endless and misty in the distance. -GRDM

Issued: Cobus Meiring, Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF)

20 October 2023 Media Release: Clean-up & Education and Awareness – a cleaner, greener future

Media Release:  Clean-up & Education and Awareness – a cleaner, greener future

For Immediate Release
20 October 2023

A National Marine Week celebration was held yesterday by the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Waste Management Section in partnership with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Cape Nature, Mossel Bay Municipality, Compass Medical Waste, and TM Ndanda Primary School.  The campaign was rolled out to raise awareness about the importance of marine environments and the need to protect them.

Pollution, especially plastic waste, is one of the most pressing issues facing our oceans. To prevent further damage to marine ecosystems, the campaign encourages students to take part in clean-up activities and reduce single-use plastic consumption.

During the day it was also stressed to the learners that they should keep their communities clean and recycle as much as possible. They were taught that every person can make a difference by picking up litter and getting into the habit of recycling every day. Small, consistent efforts make a huge difference if everyone makes them. Students learned about the different waste streams that can pollute our oceans, including medical waste and how it is handled.

The clean-up campaign was conducted following the formal educational and awareness session.

“A total of 56 bags of recyclables and 14 bags of mixed-general waste were collected. The number of volunteers, including learners and officials, was approximately 90,” said Innocentia Sikweyiya, GRDM Waste Management Officer.

The GRDM Waste Management Section expresses its heartfelt gratitude to its partners in success – Plastic SA, AQUELLE, and POLYCO, as well as all the dedicated volunteers and participants who contributed to and participated in the recent clean-up events.

“Your unwavering support and active involvement have been instrumental in ensuring the cleanliness of our environment. Together, we are making a significant impact on preserving and beautifying our surroundings, and your efforts was truly appreciated, “ said Sikweyiya.

Mossel Bay’s clean-up activities during National Marine Week included many interactive and informative sessions where learners learned about pollution and recycling.


Featured Image Caption: Stakeholders who participated in National Marine Week clean-up activities in Mossel Bay.


02 October 2023 Media Release: Coastal degradation and flooding will require substantial funding  

Media Release: Coastal degradation and flooding will require substantial funding  

For immediate release
02 October 2023

“Degradation along the Western Cape coastline is well documented and is increasingly a cause for concern as valuable properties and infrastructure ends up either damaged or destroyed, and even lives are lost due to severe storm surges surprising the unsuspecting unable to move to higher ground and swept away by powerful waves. But what would be the long term effect of coastal degradation?”, asks Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Ironically, Marlene Laros heading up the Biodiversity and Coastal Management Division of the Western Cape Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP), in June 2023, did a  presentation on coastal vulnerability at the Annual GREF Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba explaining the indicators used to determine where the future high water mark would be and how drastic the implication to land owners and authorities would be in terms of climate change and sea level rise, and the most recent climate induced disasters causing billions of Rand to mend is a stark warning that the change is real.

The Southern Cape and Garden Route economy and tourism sector is highly dependent on its coastline, scenic rivers and lakes, forests and mountains, and degradation of these assets over time can negatively affect the allure of the region as a world class destination, and planning for change is paramount.

Regional authorities, including the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and all the coastal municipalities are acutely aware of where their respective vulnerable infrastructure is in terms of exposure to storm surges and flooding, and where possible are already planning to move assets away from potential exposure, and not rebuilding where history no doubt will repeat itself.

Regular and severe flooding did hit the Western Cape badly throughout 2023, and the damage to infrastructure, agriculture and the economy at large, is substantial. Coupled with damage inflicted by storm surges and regular power outages caused by load shedding is not helping the regional economy as even the most resilient is affected one way or the other. Addressing coastal degradation requires substantial investments in mitigation and adaptation measures and may include beach nourishment, seawalls, and other engineering solutions to protect coastal areas. The long-term costs of these measures can be significant, and does not bode well for cash strapped municipalities.

Governments globally lack the funds to assist coastal communities exposed to sea level rise and the destruction of storm surges, and South Africa is certainly no exception. Fixing bridges, hard infrastructure and roads after severe flooding are extremely expensive with significant knock- on socio- economic impacts as products cannot reach markets and power and water security is compromised for prolonged periods of time.

From an environmental point of view, coastal degradation often leads to the destruction of valuable coastal habitats, including wetlands, dunes, and estuaries. These ecosystems provide essential breeding grounds and shelter for many marine species.

In summary, coastal degradation in the Western Cape, as in other coastal regions, has far-reaching and potentially devastating long-term consequences for the environment, economies, and communities. Addressing these issues typically involves a combination of strategies, including sustainable coastal management, land-use planning, climate change adaptation measures, and conservation efforts to mitigate the impacts and preserve coastal ecosystems.

Feature Image: Plettenberg Bay main beach after storm surge – coastal degradation and washed-away beaches caused by the 16 September 2023 storm surge leaves coastal economies dependent on tourism in dire straits.

Issued: Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF)


20 September 2023 Garden Route District Municipality and stakeholders collect nearly 500 bags of waste, including recyclable materials, in Thembalethu

Garden Route District Municipality and stakeholders collect nearly 500 bags of waste, including recyclable materials, in Thembalethu

Representatives from the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries & the Environment (DFFE), with the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning, Garden Route District and George Municipalities, Cape Nature and stakeholders from the Private Sector including John Dory’s and the Spur Foundation, embarked on a clean-up operation near the Schaap-kop River on 15 September in Thembalethu, George.

The clean-up operation included 65 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) members, including a Working-on-Fire Team from George. The programme formed part of the Clean-Up and Recycle – South Africa initiative and was also part of the International Coastal Clean-Up Day that is celebrated in September each year. Approximately 100 participants, with the stakeholder representatives, rolled up their sleeves to clean up the littered area.

A few bags of waste collected at the site during the cleanup operation.

On behalf of CapeNature, Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Thabiso Mokoena, said that with the initiative and the impact of pollution on the environment, he hopes that it will inspire the community to do better in terms of how household waste is disposed of.  Katt Perry, Senior Manager at John Dory’s, said that they have a vested interest in the project, and she stressed that “if waste comes through the river, it will end up in the oceans and eventually, we won’t be able to help the fish that are disappearing”. Perry thanked participants present for their hard work and said: “It takes that one person to make a difference”.

Dawid Adonis, Director for Community Services at George Municipality, during his remarks said: “We need to make sure that we keep the environment clean – we need communities to assist us to keep our environment clean and take responsibility”. In addition, he said: “Each and every one of us is an ambassador to make sure that our households use the bags and separate household waste as it will help the municipality to take less waste to the landfill facility”.

Before the groups went into different directions, each with refuse bags, GRDM’s Waste Management Officer, Innocentia Sikweyiya, explained the purpose of the various bags and what waste types are allowed in the different bags”.

At the end of the event, more approximately 320 black bags and nearly 50 recyclable bags were collected. Thank you to all stakeholders and participants who formed part of this initiative.

Stakeholders and members from the WOF and EPWP teams during the Cleanup operation in Thembalethu.

Did you know?

  • BLUE/CLEAR bags are used for non-soiled recyclable materials, including plastic, paper, cardboard, glass etc.
  • GREEN bags are for green waste, including organic kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable peels, as well as garden waste, including grass cuttings, leaves etc. No soil is allowed in green bags.
  • BLACK bags are for ‘wet’ waste, things that cannot be recycled.

How do you recycle?

  • PAPER that CAN be recycled: office paper, newspaper and magazines, cardboard (boxes flattened), brown paper bags, take away containers (food removed and rinsed), milk and juice cartons (rinsed and flattened) and books (hard covers removed).
  • PAPER that CANNOT be recycled: napkins, tissue paper, paper towels, wax paper, laminated or waxy paper, punch confetti, carbon paper and stickers.
  • METAL that CAN be recycled: cooldrink and beer cans, food tins (rinsed clean), metal lids of glass, jars, aluminium cans, rusty cans can be recycled and recycled batteries (taken to correct depot).
  • METAL that CANNOT be recycled: batteries, motor oil cans, paint and aerosol cans, and tinfoil.
  • GLASS that CAN be recycled: all colours of glass bottles and jars, beer and wine bottles (rinsed).
  • GLASS that CANNOT be recycled: mirrors and windows, ceramic, crystal, drinking glasses and light bulbs.
  • PLASTIC that CAN be recycled: all plastics numbers 1-7 (rinsed), grocery and retail plastic bags (clean) and milk sachets.
  • PLASTIC that CANNOT be recycled: cling wrap, and polystyrene (is recyclable but no facility on Garden Route for now).


04 September 2023 Media Release: Sod-Turning Event marks a milestone for Regional Waste Management Facility

Media Release: Sod-Turning event marks a milestone for Regional Waste Management Facility

For Immediate Release
04 September 2023

In a significant step towards more sustainable waste management practices, the official sod-turning ceremony for the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Regional Waste Management Facility was held on Friday, 1 September 2023. The journey to this milestone began back in 2006 when investigations and processes for establishing the Regional Landfill Site commenced.

Sharing in this historic and groundbreaking occasion, were Executive Mayors and Municipal Managers and across the district, the GRDM Mayoral Committee Members and officials, representatives from National and Provincial Government, as well as engineering consultants and stakeholders from Standard Bank, Tefla and Zutari.

During his address, Municipal Manager of GRDM, Monde Stratu, gave a thorough background about the project. He explained: “Local municipalities have reached a point where their waste management sites have become exhausted, which is why this regional waste management facility is being constructed”. Further to this he said: “It was a blessing in disguise that the initial model did not realise as it saved GRDM millions of rands.

Stratu particularly commended the GRDM officials who have been driving the project to this point. “The resilience and commitment of all involved are paying off. And today, it is time to celebrate – despite what happened, we are still delivering on our promises,” Stratu emphasised.

In his remarks at the event, the Head of Public Sector- SA at Standard Bank, Timothy Mtlatla, spoke passionately about Standard Bank’s support to GRDM’s commitment towards green energy. He said: “Our institution remains focused on its purpose; our commitment is a profound purpose and is underscored by the meaningful impact to the community.  We are serving the sector that serves us”. Adding to these words, Mtlatla highlighted that the event is a remarkable example and testament of good working relations. And for this reason, he said: “With this initiative, we foresee a future that is cleaner and healthier for all communities we serve”.  Representatives from Tefla and Zutari also delivered their messages of commitment to the project.

Executive Mayors and Deputy Mayors from the local municipalities that were present, also shared words of support on behalf of their respective municipalities. Deputy Mayor of Mossel Bay, Cllr Cliffie Bayman, referred to this day as a significant step that is taken towards more sustainable waste management and environmental practices in a changing world of climatic changes and the now more common outbreaks of communicable diseases. With these words, he added that this event deserved to be on the 1 September, as it is the 1st day of Spring. He highlighted that “this is a season for new beginnings and the reason in which our environment shows the fruit of hard work – work that we have put in during the winter months”. Bayman in addition reiterated that Mossel Bay Municipality will take accountability with the GRDM to ensure that the objective of the facility is reached. In conclusion he said that Mossel Bay is a proud partner in full support of the project and therefore they are eager to see many benefits such as employment deriving from the facility.

Knysna Executive Mayor, Cllr Aubrey Tswenga, in his congratulatory speech to GRDM and participating municipalities, said: “Thank you for making the Regional Waste Management Facility a reality”. Tswenga, however, mentioned that more work still lies ahead to educate communities about waste management. “As municipalities,” he said that “we need to educate our communities to reduce waste to landfills. Further to this he urged the GRDM on behalf of Knysna, to continue to roll-out a regional educational programme to extend the lifespan of the facility.

Bitou’s Deputy Executive Mayor, Cllr Mavis Basukwe, during her words of support, said: “Bitou took a decision to participate in the project fully understanding the implications and consequences we would face from our communities and ratepayers”. As a result of showing leadership and the fact that Bitou fitted the cost implication in their budget over the years, she emphasised that “it is indeed pleasing to see the site is now finally under construction”. She thanked all participating municipalities and said that without them, the project would not have been feasible for Bitou alone and would have left Bitou in a serious predicament.

Executive Mayor of GRDM, in his keynote address extended warm words of gratitude to the service provider and consulting engineer, Tefla and Zutari, as well as to Standard Bank and participating municipalities for this legacy project. In unpacking his statement, Mayor Booysen added: “After today it won’t only be a legacy project anymore, but also a catalytic project, meaning that this project is a catalyst of what is coming”.

Mayor Booysen further referred to the realities of working together as stakeholders and said: “It is not easy for different municipalities to work today, as there are many aspects that can hamper initiatives such as this project. However, he commended Mossel Bay Municipality, especially Municipal Manager Collin Puren, for setting the tone on how government can work together and how intergovernmental relations should be executed. To the Deputy Executive Mayor of Mossel Bay, Cllr Bayman he said: “You went as far as advising us,” to safeguard a less complicated process.  Given the background of the project, Mayor Booysen urged councillors, professionals, and ward councillors to be decisive when decisions are made. “When we are decisive,” he said: “The ratepayers would back us up, because they would then understand what they are paying for and not making their own assumptions”. He elaborated that whenever a proposal is on the table, councillors would ask “how the project is going to affect the rates and taxes”. He advised: “It is our duty as politicians to go and explain to the taxpayers and ratepayers why we are doing what we do and why are we making the decisions in terms of what it will cost them”.

An Inaugural Site Meeting and Commencement of Works took place on the 13th of June 2023, which saw the official handover of the site to the appointed contractor, Tefla Group (Pty) Ltd. Over the following weeks, the site was established, benchmarks were verified by a surveyor on July 11, and the refurbishment of an existing farmhouse, set to become the site offices, is nearing completion. Clear and grub operations, excavations and material stockpiling is underway on the access roads and on Cell 1A.

The Regional Waste Management Facility, once complete, will include a domestic waste cell (Class B) and a separate hazardous waste cell (Class A) to accommodate low and medium-hazard-rated hazardous waste. Other infrastructure elements encompass roads, stormwater pipelines, leachate storage dams, contaminated stormwater dams, offices, laboratories, weighbridges, workshops, and security infrastructure. The project also includes a 3-hectare portion that will be used for a waste tyre recycling facility.   Both the Domestic Waste Cell 1 and the Hazardous Waste Cell will have a lifespan of approximately of 20 – 25 years.

The project’s timeline are as follows:

  • Construction Tender Closure (concluded) – October 25, 2022
  • Finalization of Debt Agreement (concluded) – July 2023
  • Contractor on Site (concluded) – July 2023
  •   Operations & Maintenance Tender Award – October / November 2023
  • Completion of Phase 1 – February 2024
  • Estimated Completion of Project – March 2025

The sod-turning event heralds the beginning of a cleaner and healthier future for the Garden Route region.

Listen to all the speeches here:

Welcoming remarks

Background of the project

Message of Support by Standard Bank

Message of Support by Zutari (PTY) LTD

Message of Support by Tefla (PTY) LTD

Message of Support by Mossel Bay Municipality

Message of Support by Knysna Municipality

Message of Support by Bitou Municipality

Commitment to Service Delivery

Closing Remarks and Vote of Thanks

Feature Image: Sharing in this historic and groundbreaking occasion, were Executive Mayors and Municipal Managers and across the district, the GRDM Mayoral Committee Members and officials, representatives from National and Provincial Government, as well as engineering consultants and stakeholders from Standard Bank, Tefla and Zutari.


28 July 2023 Media Release: Oil spill sampling training and what you should know

Media Release:  Oil spill sampling training and what you should know

For Immediate Release
28 July 2023

A debriefing session was held by the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre (GRDMC) after the December 2022 oil droplet pollution along the Garden Route beaches. It was noted that there is a need for formal accredited training on correct oil pollution sampling procedures. The South African Maritime Safety Authority​ (SAMSA) managed to obtain the services of Mr Conor Bolas from International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) to present this training.

On Wednesday, 26 July 2023, this training was presented via an on-line platform from their London Offices to more than 130 officials. ITOPF is a non-profit organisation that represents ship owners around the world and endorses a precise and operational response of oil spills, chemical spills, and any other hazardous substance spills in the marine environment.

In most cases spills occur within the ocean or coastal waters, however, they may also occur on land. Dr Bolas explained how the oil is broken down through a process called Chromatography; this process is a laboratory technique that separates a mixture into its original components. Once the oil has been tested, it is possible to know who is responsible for the oil spill based on the properties of the oil.

During the oil spill sampling training, valuable insights into best practices were received. The training, consisting of four sessions focused on Marine Spill Forensics.

Session 1 commenced with an introduction to ITOPF and the importance of sampling. The reasons for obtaining samples were thoroughly explained, and case studies were presented.

In session 2, Dr Bolas delved into understanding analysis, where a comprehensive overview of tests and standards was provided. To keep the session interactive, a quiz was conducted.

Session 3 covered potential complications and focused on sample considerations, including the required type, quantity, and quality. Additionally, other factors were explored such as laboratory capabilities, storage and shipping, oil weathering, legal aspects, and cost recovery.

Moving on to Session 4, various other factors were discussed, including the identification and monitoring of Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS), costs and compensation, taint testing, dispersants, wildfire and environmental monitoring. Emphasis was placed on sampling strategy, sample types, and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).

In summary, Dr Bolas extensively covered the following topics:

  • The key reasons for sampling.
  • How to conduct proper sampling.
  • Types of analysis performed.
  • Understanding chemical fingerprinting.
  • Complicating factors in sampling.
  • Choosing appropriate analytes and considering the effects of weathering on samples.
  • Considerations for HNS and other specific circumstances.
  • Environmental monitoring and sampling.


Feature image:  Image of oil in water

Did you know: 

An oil spill is when liquid petroleum hydrocarbon is released into the environment because of human behaviour, particularly in marine areas. In most cases spills occur within the ocean or coastal waters, however, they may also occur on land.

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

19 July 2023 Media Release: Garden Route DM rolls out various activities before and on Mandela Day

Media Release: Garden Route DM rolls out various activities before and on Mandela Day

For Immediate Release
19 July 2023

While the world celebrates the life of an icon, the late President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, employees of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) also followed his example to reach out to vulnerable community members throughout the region.

GRDM kicked off their activities on 17 July by hosting a pre-Madiba Day blood donation drive at its head office in George in collaboration with the Western Cape Blood Service. The GRDM also invited the public to donate blood, which resulted in just over 50 blood donations being made.

The Oudtshoorn Municipal Health Office donated nutritious and delicious ‘food socks’ to two families in the Buffelsdrift rural area of Oudtshoorn. Food socks contain pasta, rice, flavourings, stock powders, herbs, spices, dehydrated vegetables, pulses, beans, and soy products. GRDM officials bought the socks. The donation will provide food for eight beneficiaries for a week. The two families extended their appreciation to the GRDM officials for providing them with food.

The Oudtshoorn Municipal Health Office donated ‘food socks’ to families in Buffelsdrift.

Planning and Economic Development Department officials, comprised of the EPWP, Tourism and Local Economic Development, and Human Settlements sections, took Madiba Day activities to a new level when they rolled out the following activities at Kusile Baby Care in Thembalethu. In the morning, they divided themselves into different groups. The first group painted the outside walls of the school building with a primer. After that, others begin painting the building with a beautiful topcoat colour. Other officials, who are much more handy with a hammer and nails, installed PVC ceilings. Some of the female colleagues spent time reading and feeding toddlers and newborns. While others prepared a ‘braai’ lunch for the children and their educators. The daycare center also received a coat from officials.
GRDM Planning and Economic Development officials installing PVC ceilings and feeding toddlers at Kusile Baby Care in Thembalethu.

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) of Garden Route District Municipality’s Wilderness region celebrated Mandela Day with 60 children from Klipdrift Primary School. The EHPs painted a classroom and supplied colourful tires to improve the playground area. EHPs also shared slices of cake and snack parcels with each child, while they also played games and shared the importance of giving back to others.
EHP officials of GRDM shared cake with children from Klipdrift Primary School and improved their playground.

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Firefighters proved that they can do more than fight wildfires and protect communities. They made sandwiches and distributed them with cool drinks to homeless people in George’s Shoprite parking lot.

GRDM Firefighters sharing sandwiches and cool drinks with homeless people in George.

Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Office of the Municipal Manager, donated 51 pairs of shoes and funds to Mzoxolo Primary School. The shoe donations sprout from the Walk a Child to School campaign and included more staff donations too. The school is already collecting small donations from learners on Fridays to buy shoes for those who are in need. Principal Raymond Eagan thanked the GRDM for the shoe donations and funding. He said: “Our school is home to 1554 bright minds and 42 dedicated teachers.” Learners are mainly from Borchards, Thembalethu, Maraiskamp, Parkdene, and Lawaaikamp. The Principal also said the school’s name, Mzoxola, means “a beacon for peace,” and it was established in 1994 by Naledi Pandor.

Officials of the Office of the Municipal Manager GRDM donated 51 pair of shoes and funds to Mzoxolo Primary School in Lawaaikamp.


21 June 2023 Media Release: Floods cannot be prevented, but mismanagement of waste water can

Media Release: Floods cannot be prevented, but mismanagement of waste water can

For immediate release
21 June 2023

“Ongoing cold fronts bringing torrential rain and flooding with significant damage to infrastructure, property and degrading valuable agricultural land and crops in the Western Cape are beyond human control, and with a changing climate South Africa will in all probability experience an increase of episodic rainfall events and flooding, and these can have destructive results, of which the 2022 KZN flood incident is a perfect example, ” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Globally, fresh water resources are increasingly under pressure as populations grow and rapid urbanisation and development impacts negatively on water availability and quality.

South African water authorities and municipalities are increasingly found wanting when it comes to environmental disasters that could have been prevented through  maintenance and the upgrading of water treatment plants, better trained staff as well as sufficient oversight and by dedicating sufficient resources. The present day threat to water security can however be addressed quite quickly to ensure better quality of waste water discharged after treatment resulting in healthier river systems to the benefit of down- stream water users and dependent eco systems.

South African authorities at all levels have neglected effective treatment of waste water over decades, and the deadly outbreak of Cholera claiming almost forty lives at Hammanskraal outside Pretoria in May 2023 is a horrific example of the result of what can only be described as gross neglect and incompetence, exacerbated by ever present power failures at pump stations. The Hammanskraal Cholera outbreak made headline news because of its deadly consequences, but what more often than not do not make the headlines is the effect of institutional failure to effectively deal with waste water on South African river health and eco system collapse. There are almost no river systems left in South Africa where the water is not contaminated to the point where it would be deadly to drink if not boiled or treated.

Responsible management of  waste water facilities and the protection of the country’s fresh water resources is entirely possible and absolutely not negotiable. This objective can be achieved through the training of dedicated staff dealing with water related tasks at all levels, sustained maintenance and upgrading of waste water facilities to cope with increased inflow of waste water, including sufficient technical capacity and know- how, oversight and experience.

Landowners also have a responsibility and a role to play in terms of water management

In the Garden Route and Southern Cape, the treatment of waste water is generally of an acceptable standard as a result of sound municipal management, but lots more can be done from an environmental management point of view. Aside from sticking to best water use management practices and extraction limits , landowners and land managers in the region should do more in terms of managing invasive alien plants on their properties, especially along rivers, streams and wetlands, and in the process contribute to ensuring the well- being of the environment and a higher quality of life for all living in the region.

The Garden Route Environmental Forum will be co- hosting its Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba with the Nelson Mandela University at the George Campus on Thursday 29 June.


Caption: The Swartvlei estuary can absorb large amounts of water during heavy rainfall or storm events.


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.


Cobus Meiring: Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF)

Cell: 083 626 7619