Environmental education on the increase in the Garden Route National Park

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Environmental education on the increase in the Garden Route National Park

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Environmental education on the increase in the Garden Route National Park

29 March 2019

People and Conservation Officers (P&Cs) are on a drive to increase awareness in schools about the significance of National Parks in the Garden Route. ‘They are hubs where nature is protected for the benefit of current and future generations. They provide all sorts of services to people including essential services such as water, health benefits (the Park has cycling, hiking trails, picnic spots and excursions into forest areas and water bodies’ says P&C Officer for Knysna, Nondumiso Mgwenya.

The net was thrown in as widely as possible with the hope of reaching as many schools as possible. In Knysna alone, approximately 6038 people were reached by environmental education initiatives during 2018/2019 and this figure will increase by the end of March 2020. 4083 of the total amount are learners and 1955 are adults.

Approximately 5090 youngsters and adults were reached by the Wilderness’ programmes.

In weeks leading to the school holidays, the Knysna section’s Mgwenya and her assistant, Thabiso Mokoena, sent an invitation to all public schools in Knysna to join the holiday programme. Knysna Secondary School (Hornlee), Sunridge Primary (Hornlee), Bongani soccer club responded and the SANParks staff kids from the forest areas (Diepwalle and Harkerville) were added to this quarter’s programme.

Themed ‘think blue’ learners are encouraged to think about water in a holistic manner, explains Thabiso Mokoena, ‘we take the kids through mini-sass where they monitor river health and learn how water samples are taken, we also show them micro-organisms in a river. This time we were using the Kranshoek River.’ He says 20 kids form 1 group per day to give them the attention they deserve.

‘We teach them about various pollutants, forest ecology- where they see how the forest system works. By using a river that runs through the forest, we are able to show them how interdependent the system is and how water is the vital component for it. Then driving the message home to save water becomes easy after that.’

The Holiday Programme lasts for a week and the kids learn about the forest, river, animals and plant life and connectivity in a forest environment.

Not all Programmes target learners, Wilderness’ P&C Officer, Phumla Nyathikazi says it’s important to partner up with organisations reaching young people. ‘Recently we joined a career expo in George targeting young people. We transported youngsters from Sedgefield to the event organised by the Garden Route District Municipality. Most youngsters attending the event were from George, Thembalethu and Sedgefield.’ She presented careers in the conservation sector with a specific focus on SANParks.

Last month 500 learners were hosted in Natures Valley Rest Camp (de Vasselot) by People and Conservation Officer, Nobulumko Gantsho in a Kids in Parks Programme. They spent at least three days in the Park learning about nature from rangers, scientists and independent scientists such as the Natures Valley Trust.
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Pictures of learners from Sunridge Primary, Hornlee, Knysna with Shandro Jordaan, ranger from Harkerville 2nd last picture: Thabiso Mokoena shows learners how biodiverse the forest is. Last picture: Phumla Nyathikazi presented to learners at a career expo in George.

Media contact: Nandi Mgwadlamba, 044 302 5633, 078 702 9663, [email protected]
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