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Media Release: Securing the ecological health of the Knysna lagoon

Date: 2013-05-24

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Situated at the heart of the Garden Route National Park, the Knysna estuary’s beauty and splendour attracts many visitors. Of the 249 national estuaries forming part of a study conducted by Jane Turpie and Barry Clarke (2007), the Knysna estuary was ranked above the St Lucia World Heritage Site in terms of biodiversity significance. 

This was determined by the number of its fish species, birds and botanical data. The estuary is home to 43% of South Africa’s plant and animal life and supports rare fish species such as the grunter, white steenbras, dusky cob and cape stumpnose. Knysna’s jewel, the estuary, alone contributes some 21, 6% of the total economic value of the 249 national estuaries. Conserving it will draw South Africa a step closer to achieving its set national biodiversity targets.

While the global value of estuaries back in 1997 amounted to an estimated $22 832 / ha per year (Costanza, 1997),   the Turpie and Clarke (2007) research confirmed the Knysna estuary’s total economic value was approximately between R2, 8 and 3, 4 billion per annum. This figure includes the recreational use value, its subsistence value, property value, nursery value and existence value. The public and estate agents were widely consulted in the valuation process. 

The Garden Route National Park, Area Manager for Knysna, Andre Riley, confirms numerous efforts are underway to secure the ecological health of the estuary. First up is the close working relationship with both the Eden District Municipality and Knysna Municipality. He says campaign days such as the International Day for Biodiversity set a stage to update the public of developments. He adds that the Lagoon is the lifeblood of many subsistence fishers and also supports numerous forms of recreational activities. Themed ‘water and biodiversity’ this year’s biodiversity day was signed off by the United Nations General Assembly to raise the necessary awareness about water and biological diversity (biodiversity). 

Partner to SANParks in tackling the pollution of the lagoon, the Knysna Municipality has initiated practical and relevant interventions that speak to the sources of the problem. Municipal Manager Lauren Waring says initiatives are ongoing with the most recent being the door-to-door stormwater and sewerage audit, which was launched in April 2013. “The audit aims to detect and correct illegal stormwater and sewer connections as well to determine the overall status of these systems in and around town. During the compilation of the Estuary Action Plan last year, the stormwater system was identified as one of the main sources of pollution into the lagoon.

Waring says citizens also have a role to play. “Not only can residents ensure that their stormwater and sewerage connections are correct, they can also assist by not dumping waste into the stormwater and sewerage system and report others that do so.” 

Another partner from the Eden District Municipality, Assistant Head: Municipal Health Services, Mr James McCarthy, says monthly bacteriological samplings are conducted in and around the Estuary to monitor and report the pollution status of the Knysna Estuary. 

Issued by:  
South African National Parks (SANParks) Garden Route Region Communications 
Tel: 0443025633 

Nandi Mgwadlamba
Garden Route National Park: Communications
Tel: 044 3025633;  Cell: 0787029663



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