GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - It's been just over one year since over 100 000 hectares either side of the Outeniqua Mountains burnt to tinder and several lives were lost.
This 2019 year-end reminder from Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI), highlighted the resulting economic decline of the region in the wake of devastating fires in the past few years, including the the 2017 Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Stilbaai/ Riversdale/Vermaaklikheid wildfires, which were exacerbated by prevailing drought in the northern and western parts of the Garden Route area.
"Inasmuch as the Southern Cape is a popular destination for those choosing to retire, or for holidaymakers and adventurers, the region is in need of new businesses and a healthy agricultural sector," says Meiring.
All indications are that the Southern Cape should place a lot more focus on how we prepare our region for a changing climate, and the risks and opportunity it brings with it, he says. Meiring adds that the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) – including the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) whose secretariat is managed by SCLI – continues to explore climate change risks and developments, and will be doing a lot more in this regard during the course of 2020 in order to gear up for a challenging and unpredictable environment.
According to Meiring, climate change and continuous fire risks impact in many ways, including a marked reduction in air quality, increased risks in terms of water quality and quantity, lower levels of national and international investment, slow but irreversible loss of biodiversity and a generally lower quality of life for those residing in the area.
"With climate change being clearly irreversible, there is a huge responsibility on both the regional authorities and landowners to take ownership of what they can manage and find meaningful ways to work towards a higher quality environment to ensure a better and more sustainable future," concludes Meiring.
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