The proposal for proclaiming the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) was finally gazetted on the 21st of November and the proclamation of the Park is now only months away.
The new Garden Route National Park will be unique in the sense that the proximity of the residential areas on its periphery will definitely have an impact on the character of the park. It is therefore imperative that the local authorities and residents of the Garden Route realise that they have a contribution to make to ensure that the integrity of the park stays intact, both from an environmental as well as social perspective. The emphasis will be on landscape conservation rather than the traditionally practiced conservation within a confined area.
Mvusy Songelwa, Regional Manager of SANParks Garden Route said it is an exciting challenge for the area. “The National Park will be made up of the currently proclaimed Tsitsikamma and Wilderness National Parks, the Knysna National Lake Area, the Southern Cape Indigenous Forests and the associated fynbos Mountain Catchment Areas.”
“The team in the Garden Route will be part of the coining of a unique conservation model in South Africa and Africa. The geographical diversity of these various areas makes for an exceptional conservation model. There will be no other National Park in South Africa that will include the unique combination of marine, coastal, lakes, indigenous forests and mountain catchment areas. The National Park will also not have any additional entrance gates and fences erected to mark its boundaries other than those already in place at the various camps. Our distinctive economic drive will be ‘conservation without boundaries’ in the landscape, unlike in other parks with fenced boundaries.”
The statutory 60 days for public comment will apply and during this time SANParks Garden Route will host public information sessions, starting in January 2009. Songelwa said it is important that the community is part of the process. “We want to encourage the public to write their comments directly to the Department of Environmental Affairs as per the gazette requirement.”
Once the 60 days period has expired and pending public comments to the Minster, the proclamation will follow suite. “We hope that the new National Park will be a reality by Easter 2009,” said Songelwa.
Knysna PR on behalf of SANParks Garden Route