Media Release: SANParks Garden Route promotes sustainable land management
SANParks, as part of the Garden Route Initiative (GRI) and with the financial support from the World Bank, is running a stewardship programme to motivate sustainable management of private land adjacent to the areas under their management.
Mvusy Songlewa, Regional Manager of SANParks Garden Route, said that the stewardship programme is about making landowners see the bigger picture. “Our focus is conservation, but it is difficult to conserve our areas without the buy-in of landowners adjacent to the areas we manage. Private land often links protected areas and has a direct influence on that area. A good example is the Knysna estuary - the state of rivers flowing into the estuary higher will influence the state of the water, which in turn influences plant and animal life.”
There are three different stewardship options – voluntary, contractual and statutory. Due to capacity restrictions, SANParks is currently only running the voluntary options, i.e. instances where land owners voluntary agree to incur costs associated with activities like alien clearing, fire management and environmentally friendly farming methods.
SANParks nationally is in the process of finalising an off reserve strategy which will result in a much broader range of options available to land owners.
Current programmes focused on specific areas
Songelwa said that current programmes are focused on specific areas, or corridors, which include the Western Heads, the Harkerville-Robberg coastal corridor, Robberg, and the Touw, Hoogekraal and Knysna River areas. “As a result of limited staff options we are only focusing on these areas at the moment. SANParks did extensive mapping of the areas and we are targeting specific priority areas, focusing only on the naturally intact portions of properties.”
In addition to SANParks, Cape Nature is also involved in similar stewardship programmes. With the help of GRI, an environmental management programme will be drawn up for the whole Garden Route area. This will include tourism opportunities, employment-creation opportunities and land use options that include spatial development planning.
Songelwa said that the stewardship will be essential for proper management of the Garden Route area. “The Garden Route Park will be proclaimed at the end of this year and it is essential that the areas under our management, as well as private land, are managed in a sustainable way. We need to see the bigger picture and work together to protect our beautiful natural heritage.”
For more information about the stewardship programme and how to get involved, please call:
- Tsitsikamma National Park: Darren Claasen on (042) 281 1607
- Tsitsikamma Forest Estate Park Manager: Karel van der Merwe on (042) 281 1557
- Wilderness National Park: Jill Gordon on (044) 877 0046
- Knysna Protected Lake Area: André Riley on (044) 382 2095
Knysna PR on behalf of SANParks Garden Route
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