KNYSNA NEWS - Sanparks' Working for Coast Programmes are making enormous strides in the upkeep of cleanliness in and around Knysna, with focus being placed on the estuary in particular.
Speaking about the project he manages, Thobela Mata said teams started work in December last year, with the aim to collect significant amounts of litter around the estuary, channels leading to the estuary and also the town's Blue Flag beach.
He also said "the teams are not just about the picking up of litter" but also about empowering people to ensure they have an income at the end of the day.
"We invest in skills and after the project, people can apply for better jobs elsewhere," Mata said. "We have many cases of people who have worked in the programme and applied for work elsewhere. This is because our training is SETA-accredited. Our aim has always been to provide jobs and also develop skills."
Biodiversity Social Programmes
Assistant cluster manager for the Garden Route National Park (GRNP), Thembela Shabalala, said the park's Biodiversity Social Programmes (under which Working for Coast falls) also focus on the clearing of invasive alien plant (IAPs) species thus securing more water flow in rivers. Teams clearing in buffer areas adjacent to the park also see more animal movement after clearing infested areas.
Teams working in the buffer areas are guided by a plan mapped according to the Garden Route National Park's prioritisation model. In 2017, it was designed for teams to tackle hot spots that could see the spread of IAPs infestation from private land into the park. "Thus far areas worked on with the park's Maretha Alant, include clearing border areas – Knysna River, areas in Brenton on Sea, Kranshoek, Bongani, Robberg and the Crags for now," said Shabalala.
"Black wattle, Eucalyptus and Port Jackson (in Kranshoek) are the most common invasives removed in the last financial year in buffer areas."
Shabalala said although the programme benefited unemployed youth, one of its downsides was if landowners did not continue to maintain the properties. "We get into a vicious circle if we clear IAPs on private land and after a few years, we return to assess it and find the landowner has not maintained it." She also says prior to clearing, an annual plan of operation is developed to guide the work which includes the verification of the scope of work (identify plants and invasive alien plants there) and density, calculate associated costs, as well as methods of removing IAPs.
Details of cleanups in Knysna
Speaking about his team's tireless efforts, Scott Ronaldson of Sanparks' Working for Coast teams said "during the season we'd start cleaning from the parking area of Buffalo Bay, then the beach and walk all the way from Brenton to clean the beach line and parking area there too".
"We are working extremely well with the municipality's solid waste department who send a truck to collect all the bags daily," added Mata.
Seven teams are in the field to focus on the Knysna estuary, five main storm water channels draining the CBD into the estuary as well as important catchment areas of the Bigai river (Hornlee), Bongani River (Khayalethu) and the Salt River.
A team is also based in the Harkerville coastal area, and teams range from 10 to 12 people per team with a contractor to oversee the job. "Just to showcase the amount of litter collected, from 30 December 2019 to 3 January, teams collected a total 148 recycled bags of rubbish and 238 black bags," explained Ronaldson. "Dominant litter items collected around the estuary during this time are cigarette butts, cold drink lids, glass bottles and sweet packets."
Megan Taplin, park manager for the Knysna section of the GRNP said: "It is important that every resident of Knysna starts to reduce their own waste, for example, consider buying loose fruit instead of fruit in plastic bags".
"We are making headway around the estuary and we view leadership shown by restaurants at the waterfront as exemplary for their use of eco-straws instead of plastic straws," Ronaldson added.
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