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South Africa: A day in the Valley and one at the River

Two distinct but related ecosystems will host South Africa's Biodiversity Action Days 2010:
The Baviaanskloof and the Mgeni River.


Mgeni River

The Howick area downstream is close to a highly impacted catchment, and is an industrial centre for KZN, especially because of the Mgeni river and water provision. This is however becoming more impacted and unregular, and as long ago as the 1980s factories had to close because of a lack of water. Not only is water needed for this area, but it also feeds the Durban area, and the harbour in Durban. Several dams have been built in the river, and this has its own kind of impacts.

The Mgeni river that mouths at Durban, has for years fed the industrial centre of KwaZulu-Natal. Its watershed is impacted by commercial plantations which result in decreased flow, and the river has been dammed in several places. There are however spectacular natural areas along the river, one of which is the area manged by WESSA, an environmental NGO, in Howick, just upstream of the magnificent Howick waterfall. This is also home to the ShareNet programme, that WESSA manages as a programme to provide environmental education (EE) materials to schools and EE centres at cost price, as well as the SADC regional EE centre, where regular training programmes for SADC roleplayers are held. This region is unique, in that there is a strong focus on development and industry in the area, but also a strong component of dedicated, knowledgeable environmentalists that drive environmental education, with an emphasis on education and community involvement.

Biodiversity Action Days 2010

Baviaanskloof project, organised by the Eastern Cape Parks Board, will feed their results into the Biodiversity & Citrus Initiative, the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, potential PES schemes, as well as sub-tropical thicket restoration.

The Mgeni River project will feed into "The River Project", which aims to feed documentary evidence over a year period into the working for Wetlands and Ecoschools projects. These would use the evidence in their communication and education strategies and can be linked to a programme to inform local government. It can also feed into the Stewarship Programme and possible PES Schemes linked to municipal capacity-building projects.


Photos: Willeen Olivier, Chris Galliers

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