Environment

Briefly

The area has a comparatively high average rainfall, with the coastal and mountain regions receiving over 1000mm per annum. Snow is not uncommon at high altitudes in winter, but the remainder of the country is temperate with high sub-tropical temperatures along the coast in summer.

The summer rainy seasons are sub tropically warm and pleasant, while the winters are mild and fine (and pleasant). High temperatures in January (mid summer) reach about 28 degrees C, and in June (winter) about 21 degrees, with lows of 17 and 9 degrees respectively.

Stop forced mining on South Africa's Wild Coast!

  • Posted on: 26 May 2015
  • By: JB

To: Investors of MRC

Investors of MRC: Stop forced mining on South Africa's Wild Coast

This petition is really important and could use your help.

We have just ONE day before the mining company's Annual General Meeting so we need a lot of signatures to get the investors attention in time!

Click here to find out more and sign:
Xolobeni Mining Petition to MRC Investors

The majority of residents do not want their homes, ancestral graves, water supply, fishing stock or traditional way of life threatened.

Although many need employment, better facilities and state services, they do not want to compromise their land for a mine that would hire only a few unskilled workers and have a lifespan of only 22 years.

Instead they want sustainable development projects, ranging from small-scale agriculture to eco-tourism. But the mining threat would foreclose alternative development strategies. 

The crisis has reached a tipping-point.

On Wednesday May 27, MRC has its Annual General Meeting. Let's get their investors' attention and let them know what is really happening with the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project. MRC is having serious problems with its other South African investment, Tormin, due to its heavy mineral concentrate buyers’ quality claims. It has made mistakes in South Africa that warrant its retreat.

Sign to demand that MRC ends forced mining in a community whose majority have repeatedly rejected it. Stop MRC from hiring people who violently assault community members.

Let MRC’s investors know it’s time to take their funds elsewhere.

Let’s ensure that human rights and environmental integrity defeat greed for ill-gotten gains.

 




 

Exposed: How Sanral forged documents

  • Posted on: 23 March 2015
  • By: JB

Source: Rand Daily Mail

AS if the South African National Roads Agency doesn’t have enough to worry about after last week’s tough hearing in the Supreme Court of Appeal, it is now also being accused of forging court documents to promote its proposed Wild Coast toll road.

Sanral came under scrutiny in the appeal court last Wednesday when judges considered whether to uphold a high court decision putting under wraps all the road authority’s documents related to another controversial planned toll road, this time on key routes into Cape Town.

Told that Sanral wanted certain documents kept from the public because they could ‘cause alarm’ if made known, the appeal judges called this ‘paternalistic’ and asked whether it was not, rather, to protect the agency’s reputation. One judge commented that the application was ‘unique’ in that it was brought in a court of law, trying to deal with the court of public opinion.

Now Sanral’s reputation is under fire again: key affidavits filed by its CEO Nazir Alli intended to show that the proposed Wild Coast road had strong community support have been denounced as forgeries – one of them rejected as a fake by the very person who purportedly signed the document.

The documents complaining of forgery have now been filed with the high court, and according to lawyers for the community, the agency agreed to their being lodged as long as Sanral could subsequently file its response to the new claims. Sanral’s official reaction so far has been that they are investigating the matter, but no affidavits by the agency, dealing with the forgeries, have yet been lodged in court.

The forgery claims are part of an ongoing legal dispute in which Sanral’s CEO Nazir Alli has challenged the mandate of Cape Town lawyer Cormac Cullinan and his legal firm to represent the Wild Coast community affected by the proposed toll road. Both sides had already filed their final papers for the hearing in the mandate dispute, preparatory to the matter being heard in court. Then Cullinan spotted the alleged forgeries in the supporting affidavits forming a crucial part of Alli’s case.  

The forged documents deal with whether the community has terminated the mandate it gave Cullinan’s firm as alleged by Sanral, and the extent of support by the community for Sanral’s proposed new road.

In September last year a leading member of the community filed affidavits saying the mandate to Cullinan has not been withdrawn. Nomvelwana Mhlengana, assistant to headwoman Baleni and an elected council member of the Umgungundlovu Tribal Council and the Amadiba Traditional Authority, also says that she and her community are very strongly opposed to the planned toll road.

It was when Sanral filed its reply to these documents that Cullinan noticed one of Sanral’s supporting affidavits had purportedly been signed by this same Mhlengana, just two months after she had expressed a contrary view. In the new documents she allegedly said Cullinan does not represent the community and that she backs the new road.

Lawyers believed there was a difference between the authentic signature and the forgery in Sanral’s affidavit and they hired an expert to examine them. No final answer could be given however as the original ‘forged signature’ was contained in affidavits that had been removed from the court files. Despite exhaustive searches by lawyers and court staff, the original has not been found. That means the expert was only able to examine copies of the forgery.

There was another problem with Sanral’s documents: they were signed on 11 November 2014 but the police date stamp reflects the next day. This must mean that they were not signed in the presence of the person who stamped the documents as required by law. Nor were they signed by the person identified as the commissioner of oaths.

Mhlengana has denied knowing anything about Sanral’s affidavit bearing her signature: she didn’t sign it and she didn’t go to the Mzamba police station on either date reflected on the document.

Apart from this forged signature, several other affidavits attached to the replying papers of Sanral’s Alli also appear to be forgeries: Mhlengana says she has never heard of the three people who signed the affidavits in support of Sanral and the road, and she questions whether they even exist.

At a meeting of the local community attended by about 80 people, the names were discussed and no one had heard of the three. In particular they agreed the three were not part of the Sigidi community as stated in the affidavits.

Cullinan has asked Sanral to put up evidence before court showing that these three people exist, that they were part of the Sigidi community as alleged in the documents, and that they signed the affidavits.

Cullinan said in his affidavit there was good reason to believe that Sanral – or people working on its behalf – had ‘forged the affidavits to manufacture evidence to support Sanral’s allegations’ that his firm did not have a mandate from the local community to fight the planned road. These efforts followed failed attempts by Sanral to get the affected communities to withdraw the court challenge they are bringing against the road.

Cullinan added that Alli, in his founding affidavit, had made serious allegations of professional impropriety against Cullinan and his firm, questioning whether he was telling the truth about his mandate to represent the Wild Coast communities.

“We answered by providing overwhelming evidence of the widespread support among members of the … community” for the court challenge to the road decision and for the mandate to Cullinan’s firm. “In reply Sanral introduces four forged ‘affidavits’ in a blatant attempt to mislead the court.”

Among the affidavits submitted by Cullinan in support of the forgery allegations is one by Mhlengana who says she did not sign the affidavit filed by Alli and that she was “very angry that Sanral has filed a forged affidavit” in her name which makes it seem she has committed perjury since it directly contracts her earlier affidavit two months ago, expressing opposition to the proposed road.

 

Xolobeni I&AP Registration (again)

  • Posted on: 23 March 2015
  • By: JB

 

In order to ensure that you are identified as an interested and/or affected party (I&AP) please submit your name, contact information, interest in the matter and comments to the EAP before 17:00 on 18 April 2015.

All communication must be directed to the EAP below.

EAP:

PB Professional Services

PO Box 1058

Wellington

7654

Cell: 082 776 3422

Fax: 0866721916

Email: Xolobeni+6009@key360.co.za

Or directly from the website

www.pbpscon.co.za

17 March 2015 DMR Application Ref: EC10025MR

To: Owner and tenant

APPLICATION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AUTHORISATION, WASTE MANAGEMENT LICENSE, AIR EMISSIONS LICENSE AND INTEGRATED WATER USE LICENCE FOR THE PROPOSED XOLOBENI MINERAL SANDS PROJECT, EASTERN CAPE PROVINCE

INVITATION TO REGISTER AS AN INTERESTED AND AFFECTED PARTY AND TO PROVIDE COMMENT ON THE EIA SCOPING REPORT

Transworld Energy and Minerals Resources (SA) (Pty) Limited (TEM) has applied for mining rights for the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project in the Xolobeni Region of the Eastern Cape. As part of an application for a Mining Right in terms of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002), and the 2014 NEMA Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, TEM is seeking Environmental Authorisation, Waste Management License (WML), Air Emissions License (AEL) and Integrated Water Use License (IWULA). A Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment Process (S&EIA) is being undertaken. The applications for WML, AEL and IWULA will be submitted shortly.

Situated in the Eastern Cape Province; approximately 250 km south west of Durban and approximately 60 km south east of Mbizana and 30 km southwest of Port Edward, the proposed development will involve the mining and processing of various heavy minerals for export. In addition to the mine infrastructure, the proposed mine development will also require supporting infrastructure such as internal roads, power lines, and water abstraction and distribution infrastructure.

Pieter Badenhorst Professional Services has been appointed as the independent environmental practitioner (EAP) responsible for the applications for an Environmental Authorisation, WML, AEL and IWULA.

Your name was received from a previous public participation process. Please note that this does NOT qualify as registering as an I&AP for this application. If you would wish to register as an I&AP for this current project, please submit your name, postal address, email address as well as preferred method of communication and interest in the manner to the EAP. In the future, communications will only be distributed to the registered I&APs.

The Scoping Report for the EIA is available for public review and comment from 18 March 2015 to 18 April 2015. The document is available from the following website: pbpscon.co.za as well as from the following public places:

Public Place and venues

Port Edward Library

East London Library

Mthatha Public Library

Bizana Library

Naledi High School, Xolobeni Tribal Area

Xolobeni Pre-school, Amadiba Area (Also venue for meeting 8:00 to 11:00 on 8 April 2015)

Mgungundlovu sub-tribal authority (Amadiba area); (Also venue for meeting 13:00 to 16:00 on 8 April 2015).

Mthayise Junior Secondary School

Amadiba area: (Also venue for meeting 8:00 to 11:00 on 9 April 2015)

Amadiba Tribal Authority; (Also venue for meeting 13:00 to 16:00 on 9 April 2015)

Bizana Youth Centre (in Bizana Town; (Also venue for meeting 10:00 to 13:00 on 10 April 2015)


 

The following listed activities are included as part of the application:

Reg 983 Listing Notice 1:

9, 10, 11 , 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, 45, 46, 48, 50, 56

Reg 984 Listing Notice 2:

6, 15, 16,17, 19, 21, 28

Reg 985 Listing Notice 3:

2, 4, 10, 12 18


 

All communication must be directed to the EAP below.

EAP:

PB Professional Services

PO Box 1058

Wellington

7654

Cell: 082 776 3422

Fax: 0866721916

Email: Xolobeni+6009@key360.co.za

Or directly from the website

www.pbpscon.co.za

In order to ensure that you are identified as an interested and/or affected party (I&AP) please submit your name, contact information, interest in the matter and comments to the EAP before 17:00 on 18 April 2015. 

Sparks fly over N2 toll road project

  • Posted on: 21 March 2015
  • By: JB

March 19 2015 at 09:42am 
By Tony Carnie and Anél Lewis

Source: http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/industry-news/sparks-fly-over-n2-toll-road-project-1.1834207

IOL mot pic mar19 Wild Coast Toll Road 1INLSanral has been accused of faking support for the toll road it wants to carve across the Pondoland coast, including the Mtentu Gorge, shown here, which will require a huge bridge. Picture: John Yeld

Pretoria - The South African National Roads Agency has been accused of forging documents to mislead the Pretoria High Court and bolster support for the controversial N2 Wild Coast Toll Road.

This emerged late on Wednesday when Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona admitted the agency was “investigating the circumstances around fraud allegations relating to statements that Sanral submitted in court”.

To complicate matters, attorneys said the original of an allegedly forged signature appeared to have been “uplifted from the court file by unknown persons” and could not be examined by handwriting experts.

Several community groups from the Pondoland Wild Coast are seeking to set aside the government's 2010 decision to authorise construction of a toll road between Durban and East London.

Sanral had filed a number of affidavits from Wild Coast residents expressing support for the toll road - even though at least one of them, Nomvelwana Mhlengana, a council member of the Amadiba Traditional Authority and assistant to headwoman Cynthia Baleni, had been a vocal opponent of the toll plan.

‘OUTSPOKEN OPPONENT’

In this affidavit - apparently signed on 11 November 2014 and stamped the following day at the Mzamba police station - Mhlengana purportedly gives her signed support for the proposed toll road and states that she did not authorise Cape Town environmental law firm Cullinan and Associates to bring a court application to overturn the toll road authorisation.

Three more affidavits, each with the same format and bearing the letterhead of the Mbizana Local Municipality, were purportedly signed by three other residents - but now Mhlengana says she never signed the affidavit of support and only became aware of its existence after Sanral presented it to the court.

“I deny all the allegations made in the affidavit and do not support the N2 Wild Coast project,” she said. “I am known as an outspoken opponent of the proposed toll road, and I am very angry that Sanral has filed a forged affidavit in my name that directly contradicts my previous affidavit.”

She also believes the other three affidavits of support, purportedly signed by Msulwa Ndovela, Mfihlewa Mdatya and Gotyelwa Mathumbu, were also forgeries. She said had never heard of these three people, who were said to be members of her community.

“Sanral representatives knew that members of the Sigidi community would not sign their affidavits,” she said, “so they prepared forged affidavits with the assistance of members of the SA Police Services.”

‘FABRICATED EVIDENCE’

Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance spokesman Wayne Duvenage said: “Having studied copies of the various affidavits in the court record, it would appear that Sanral has fabricated evidence to back up its assertion that the Amadiba coastal community were supportive of the N2 Wild Coast toll road scheme.”

In an earlier affidavit from Alli, Sanral claimed that Cullinan and Associates director Cormac Cullinan did not have authority to act for those opposed to the toll road.

Cullinan said in a responding affidavit he had provided overwhelming evidence that communities supported the court challenge on the toll road and noted that Sanral had “virtually unlimited access to funds (from the public purse) whereas) the clients we represent have very limited financial resources”.

“This application by Sanral, supported as it is with forged affidavits, is a cynical attempt to deny these communities their constitutional rights.”

‘COMPELLING ARGUMENTS’

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town is cautiously optimistic that the Supreme Court of Appeal will uphold its appeal to make crucial information about the controversial Winelands toll project public.

Brett Herron, Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport, said in Bloemfontein on Wednesday legal counsel for the city and the 11 organisations standing as friends of the court, had made “compelling arguments” in favour of lifting the veil of secrecy that Sanral has imposed on its toll project for the N1 and the N2.

“Sanral wants to keep taxpayers in the dark about the cost of the tolling project,” he said, “by preventing the city from disclosing the information that is contained in its bid record.”

Herron said the information was of “great public importance” as it referred to toll fees and compared these with what Gauteng motorists were paying for their toll scheme.

The city's review application for Sanral's decision to declare the N1 and N2 as toll roads, and for the project to be scrapped, has been set down for 11 August in the Western Cape High Court.

The Mercury, Cape Argus

Bulungula Lodge (paradise on the beach)

in a village, on the beach

Situated on one of the world's most beautiful, unspoilt beaches in the heart of a traditional Xhosa village, the eco-friendly Bulungula Lodge has been described as "spectacular" by the Lonely Planet and "one of the World's ultimate ethical travel experiences" by The Rough Guide. This Fair-trade lodge is co-owned by the local traditional community and loads of cool activities run daily.

Our beautiful Nqileni village

Spend the night in one of the ten traditional thatch huts (doubles, triples and dorms) or in a safari tent (with beds, bedding and electric light) with beautiful views. There is a affordable restaurant with three delicious meals per day and a help-yourself bar. The entire lodge runs on solar power and makes use of a range of innovative, sustainable technologies which protect our environment.

Our friendly local community and shareholders

 

Activities running daily include: * horse-riding: 2 hour horse rides through the village and along the beach * canoeing: up the beautiful Xhora river * Woman Power: spend a day with the local women learning how to harvest and cook local food, make mud bricks, balance water on your head and just having fun. * Herbalist Forest Tour: wander through the ancient forest with the traditional herbalist and learn about weird and wonderful remedies. * Massage * Village Tour: a walking social history tour of our friendly community. * Fishing: learn how to fish in the sea with a local fisherman. All the above tours are owned and run by members of our local community - so all your money goes where it is most needed. We hope to see you here in paradise.

To make a booking: * Call +27 47 577 8900 (047 577 8900 for South Africans) * or call +27 83 391 5525 (083 391 5525 for South Africans) * Email: paradise@bulungula.com * Visit our website: www.bulungula.com

canoeing the Bulungula river

Wildcoast Dolphin Research

Dear Wildcoast Community Members,

My name is Michelle Caputo and I am a PhD student at Rhodes University studying dolphins along the Wildcoast of the Eastern Cape.  I am writing to you as interested parties to give you a bit more information on what we are up to and to ask for your help and participation, where possible!

As some of you will know, there has been very little research to date on dolphins and whales in your area, with just a few aerial surveys from the 1980s.  Animals from Algoa Bay and from KZN have been studied to a larger extent, which leaves a large gap in our understanding of animal movement and residency along this coast.  My PhD project is focused on closing the gap and determining connectivity between EC and KZN animals, and the importance of the Wildcoast in their ecology.  Together with staff from the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Authority, I'll be out in your area in February, June, and November for the next three years doing biopsy sampling and distribution studies on dolphin species.  Biopsy allows us to take a small skin and blubber sample from the animals, which we use to look at genetics and prey of dolphins.  We use photographic identification to match animals, as the dorsal fin is like a finger print. 

Given the lack of knowledge of the area, community members like you are incredibly important to our research as you are our “eyes on the ground”!  We are developing a sightings "App" for smart phones, so that tourists and community members can log their dolphin and whale sightings opportunistically (ie. if you notice animals in the area - not a dedicated watch).  For now we have a Facebook (Wildcoast Living Laboratory - https://www.facebook.com/WildcoastLL), and a sightings form (attached here) that can be used if you see these animals.  Alternatively, I am always available at this email address if you would like to send me your sightings information directly.  By collating this info I can begin to develop a better understanding of when these animals are along the Wildcoast and in which areas - this in turn will help me focus my research. 

 

I have attached a dolphin and whale ID guide to help where needed, but additional info such as: size of group (small, medium, large) and distance to shore (inshore, nearshore, or offshore) are very useful in determining species. 

 
If you are interested in participating and/or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me!  I can also send a copy of our poster to interested parties for public display.  I will be sending out updates and keeping in touch with those who are interested.  Any ideas and suggestions are always appreciated - as well as questions, concerns, etc. 

Thank you for your participation,
Michelle Caputo

Awesome SA: Screw Business as Usual

www.awesomesa.co.za South Africa is a country that has lived through one of the most frightening, riveting, and inspiring political revolutions in history. Real radical change faces each one of us every day. How do we deal with the mistrust that has crept in among our people from years of separation and confrontation? Richard Branson in his book – Screw Business As Usual – says: "We've a chance to take a shot at really working together to turn upside down the way we approach the challenges we are facing in the world and to look at them in a brand new, entrepreneurial way. Never has there been a more exciting time for all of us to explore this great next frontier where the boundaries between work and higher purpose are merging into one, where doing good really is good for business." Awesome SA supports an organisation called Sustaining the Wild Coast.

N2 Toll road decision

  • Posted on: 30 July 2011
  • By: JB

Minister of Water & Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, has approved the controversial N2 tollroad through the environmentally sensitive Pondoland Centre of Endemism.

In a 21 page fax sent out to IAPs she dismissed all 49 appeals lodged in objection to the new road. What is clear is that the minister is being a "loyal cadre" and carrying out the wishes of the ANC, while betraying her office and responsibilities to the environment.

Download the Fax here: 184635892.pdf

26 of the appeals were dismissed out of hand due to the fact that they address socio-economic impacts of the tolling; which was the responsibility of the dept of transport and the SANRAL Act. 

Concerns about ribbon, or linear development were not possible to consider because it would be based on only "potential future developments" and were dismissed.  

A major concern addressed by numerous appeals was SANRAL's bias towards the new 75km section of road between Lusikisiki and Mzamba and against the upgrading of the existing R61. The "Terms of Reference for Environmental Consultant N2 Wild Coast Toll Road Project" (TOR) included a requirement that there must be "due consideration of alternative options and a strong motivation for excluding the R61 and current N2 as alternative options".
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This was dismissed by the minister because the client was simply letting the prospective contractors know their requirements. Roughly, their requirements when going to tender equate to any 'impartial' verdict that aligns with their interests. And their interests are a shorter, Tolled road to attract revenue. Not an upgraded existing route that is 75km longer.

Whether the relative costs of upgrading the existing R61 were accurately compared to the cost of the new road with bridge-spans or not is doubtful, but the environmental and cost objections seem tenuous at best. 

And in a classic sleight of hand, the honorable minister proves that the point is moot anyway because the condition was only raised in the TOR, but was never annexed to the contract binding the environmental consultants (CCA) to SANRAL, and can therefor be assumed to be non-binding. In the minister's words "Therefore, I do not agree with the interpretation of the appellant that the EAP is compelled to provide a strong motivation that the R61 and current N2 should not be considered as an option."

Download the Fax here: 184635892.pdf

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach."

"Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations." -Aldous Huxley

Xolobeni mining update

  • Posted on: 28 June 2011
  • By: JB
It is well known by now that the minister of minerals & energy revoked the mining license, granted to MRC and their local subsidiary Xolco in 2008, at the beginning of the month. However the door is still ajar and we await the outcome in 3 months time. The applicants have until then to resubmit properly completed environmental impact assessments, a full environmental management plan, and to comply fully with the various requirements of affected government departments. In the interim, MRC's (Mineral Resource Commodities - ASX:MRC) share price seems fairly stable and essentially unchanged, hovering around 8c, Australian. But will they risk the further expenditure?

DMR releases Xolobeni report

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has released the ‘Holomisa Report’, which advises Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on the Xolobeni mining right appeal. The mining right was awarded to Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM) in 2008, for the Kwanyana block of mineral sands on the Wild Coast. Although dated March 2010, the report was only released on January 31. The DMR said that the delay in taking a decision on the report was owing to “administrative processes and pressures within the department”.

Petition against the destruction of the Pondoland Center of Endemism

Pondoland Centre Endemics

Dated and incomplete list by Tony Abbott (P O Box 111, Port Edward 4295) The Pondoland Centre (van Wyk 1994), one of the Centres of Plant diversity of the Maputaland-Pondoland Region is tied to the Mzikaba Formation (Thomas et al. 1992). Many Pondoland endemics are noted for their very narrow distribution along the coastal belt. In nearly all species distribution is clumped and confined to certain areas that appear to have no characteristics that are not shared by adjoining areas of similar topography and substrate. The large majority are almost certainly palaeoendemics. The endemic woody plants largely occur in stream and river forests. They tend to be roughly confined to the lower 15 kilometres from the sea. The rivers exhibiting the greatest preponderance of endemics are, from the north, the Umzimkulwana, the Umtamvuna, the Mzamba, the Nyameni, the Mtentu, the Mzikaba, the Mkweni, the Lupatana, the Mlambomkulu, the Cutweni and the Mkosi.

Invader alien plants in Port St Johns area

  • Posted on: 8 September 2009
  • By: pondok
Port St Johns's Indigenous forest is threatened by quick growing invasive alien plant species (inkberry, american bramble,guava,casteroil plant,indian laurel,lantana and many other). To try and eradicate these looks like a mammoth task. The Working for Water Project seems not to be working at all in the Port St Johns area. I have started to try and eradicate and kill all non indigenous plants on and around my property (between Ferry Point and Agate-Terrace). I bought a book on invader plants of KZN and have discovered that any piece of disturbed forest gets rapidly invaded by these alien plants and it is very difficult to eradicate these invaders and rehabilitate such an area even if it is a very small area. I pay three orphan school kids from Noqhekwana R50/day on saturdays to help me. If anybody knows how I can go about to get any official or any other assistance in a cause to eradicate the Pondoland's indigenous forest of invader alien plant species. South Africa does only have a few lush forests(Tsitsikama, Pndoland, Drakensberg, KZN and Limpopo) and bushveld (Kruger National Park, Nelspriut, Hazyview), compare to Central-,West-and North Africa. Is there a way to save our forests, maybe declare all our natural forests National Parks?

UNLESS

  • Posted on: 16 July 2009
  • By: JB

The Lorax was written and illustrated by Theodore (Dr. Seuss) Giesel in 1971 as a colorful childrens book, with a biting satirical message - for adults and children alike - about man's tendency to invade and destroy his natural environment. It is a pointed commentary on the expansion of the logging industry in the early 70s that is even more relevant today than it was 38 years ago when he created it.

The cute, furry Lorax is believed to be a representation of the great northern owl of the Pacific Northwest, which makes its home in the coastal redwoods and Douglas fir trees.

Read http://chokingplanet.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/dr-seuss-had-it-right/ about the controversy The Lorax stirred up in America.

“Aren’t you ashamed?” Asks the Lorax. “The things you are doing are completely ungood”

“But if I didn’t do it, then someone else would,” says the Once-ler.

"Mister!", he said with a sawdusty sneeze,
"I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,
And I'm asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs" --
He was very upset as he shouted and puffed --
"What's that THING you've made out of my Truffula tuft?"

I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees,
Which you seem to be chopping down as fast as you please;
But I also speak for the brown Barbaloots,
Who frolicked and played in their Barbaloot suits,
Happily eating Truffula fruits.
Now, since you've chopped the trees to the ground
There's not enough Truffula fruit to go 'round!
And my poor Barbaloots are all feeling the crummies
Because they have gas, and no food, in their tummies.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It's not.

Catch! calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
It's a Truffula Seed.
It's the last one of all!
You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.

Now all that was left 'neath the bad-smelling sky
was my big empty factory...
the Lorax...
and I.
The Lorax said nothing
just gave me a glance. Just gave me a very sad, sad backward glance.
He lifted himself by the seat of his pants and i'll never forget the grim look on his face
as he hoisted himself and took leave of this place through a hole in the smog without   
leaving a trace
and all that the Lorax left here in this mess was a small pile of rocks with one word.
UNLESS

 

 

RHINO HUNTING BY EC PARKS

6-Jul-2009

Produced by: Step Lite Films

VO: 
During the first week of May, a professional hunting outfit from the Free State, started the hunt at Dwessa, armed with all the correct permits and paperwork they needed. The hunt was advertised by and bought from Eastern Cape Parks Board. Of the five on the permit, one was shot and one wounded by their clients.
 
The officials justified the decision by saying that it was taken in line with the requirements of the national biodiversity Act or NEMBA.

CEO: 
We are hunting white rhinos, which are not indigenous to the Eastern Cape. 

The white rhino were originally introduced to the area some 25 years ago.

The hunt angered many people who feel that the animals should simply have been relocated, keeping them alive.

Letters from Public: 
“If this is indeed lawful under recently promulgated national legislation, then these laws are worthless. “

The road to hell is paved with good intentions?

2009/06/08

GOVERNMENT has approved plans for the construction of a toll route through the Wild Coast in the face of fierce opposition from environmentalists and the royal house of AmaMpondo.

The project, initially intended to take off some 10 years ago, has been stalled by objections from Pondoland communities whose homes the road will cut through, and from environmentalists who fear the ecological impact.

Environmentalists are also concerned a portion of the road between Lusikisiki and Port Edward will bisect the Pondoland Centre of Endemism (PCE) sections of the proposed Wild Coast/Pondoland National Park.

The approval of the project, by Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka, was justified by the economic spin-offs in an area of severe poverty and disease.

Red Dunes of Xolobeni - the curse of the black dirt

  • Posted on: 3 June 2009
  • By: JB

Simon Max Bannister has compiled a brilliant photo essay of his hike around Mzamba and Xolobeni.

Do yourself a favor and follow this link: simontothemax.blogspot.com and see for yourself the unspoilt beauty of the threatened area.

Better yet, contact Benny Mbotho on 079-1985 975 / or through Sonya on 074-336 7862 - for a guided day-trip, or longer hike.

Also do check the rest of Simon's Blog which features some of his fascinating "recycled" artwork.

Opinion piece

  • Posted on: 20 May 2009
  • By: JB

I commented recently about the cabinet ministry changes, and made a similar comment about Buyelwa Sonjica (who is now Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs) and her obvious pro-industrialization inclinations, so I think it's fairly appropriate to post  Tonie Carnie's article published in The Mercury on 13 May 2009.

 

White Rhino

Gamekeepers versus poachers in new cabinet May 13, 2009 Edition 1 By Tony Carnie

President Jacob Zuma's decision to separate some of the "poacher" and "gamekeeper" cabinet ministries seems to make a lot of sense at the structural level, but the proof of the pudding remains in the eating.

It can be argued that environmental affairs and tourism belong in one ministry because they are closely linked, but there has always been inherent tension between regulating and protecting the environment on one hand and the simultaneous promotion of the commercial imperatives of the tourism sector.

The same goes for the former union between water affairs and forestry. Protecting our precious water resources also sits uncomfortably with promoting commercial timber plantations, which suck up scarce water and land.

A somewhat similar scenario of lumping poachers and gamekeepers in one ministry was also apparent in the traditional union between minerals and energy affairs - now separated into two ministries.

For too long, the minerals sector (often representing the interests of mining giants such as Anglo American, Kumba and BHP Billiton, or the powerful oil and fossil fuel lobby) has been the senior partner in the incestuous marriage with energy affairs.

Hopefully, the separation will open up the space for the development of cleaner, renewable energy options such as wind, solar and wave energy in the new era of global climate change - though it is unlikely that the "poachers" will fail to guard their strategic turf any less assiduously under the new alignment of cabinet ministries.

Yet it seems rather ominous that water seems to have assumed senior partner status in the new Ministry of Water and Environmental Affairs.

It may be a matter of semantics as to which function gets top billing in the title, but elevating "water" above "environment" seems to be an indication that the protection of the environment continues to play second fiddle to economic growth and the utilitarian value of water.  Clean water, clean air and unpolluted soil are all children of the broader environmental parent - not the other way around. It's a bit like creating a ministry of catholic and religious Affairs, which deliberately assumes dominance by the Catholics and relegates the Islamic, Hindu or Anglican faith branches into positions of subservience.

And what, if anything, can be read into the choice of personalities to head the realigned ministries and departments?

Marthinus van Schalkwyk certainly seems to have been booted into the sidelines with his appointment as tourism minister. No longer will he enjoy centre stage at the forthcoming world climate change talks in Copenhagen, despite exceeding the expectations of several observers during his tenure as environment minister.

In his place, Buyelwa Sonjica has been named Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs. Some observers have commented disparagingly about Sonjica's previous position as minerals and energy minister, particularly in relation to the Wild Coast dune mining saga. Sonjica blotted her copybook in the eyes of several environmentalists with her vocal support for the Xolobeni dune mining venture, and worsened this with her crass, racial attack on human rights and labour attorney Richard Spoor, who has acted on behalf of several (black) Xolobeni residents opposed to the mining plan.

Racial identity should not play any role in raising awareness about the crucial need to protect our deteriorating life-support system - but hopefully Sonjica will now contribute to breaking down some of the abiding perceptions that environmental protection remains the domain of "rich whiteys".

More to the point, however, it remains to be seen whether Zuma's cabinet will elevate the profile of environmental custodianship or continue to deepen the ruts in the narrow and well-trodden pathway towards economic "progress".

Wild Ocean 3D

  • Posted on: 2 March 2009
  • By: JB

Wild Ocean is in an uplifting, giant screen cinema experience capturing one of nature's greatest migration spectacles. Plunge into an underwater feeding frenzy, amidst the dolphins, sharks, whales, gannets, seals and billions of fish. Filmed off the Wild Coast of South Africa, Wild Ocean is a timely documentary that celebrates the animals that now depend on us to survive and the efforts by the local people to protect this invaluable ecological resource. Hope is alive on the Wild Coast, where Africa meets the sea.

Check out the film's trailer on the official website at www.wildoceanfilm.com

Wild Ocean has been Selected as 2009 Earthwatch Film of the Year

Wild Ocean 3D highlights one of nature’s greatest migration spectacles, plunging viewers into an underwater feeding frenzy, an epic struggle for survival where whales, sharks, dolphins, seals, gannets and billions of fish collide with the most voracious sea predator, mankind.

Filmed off the Wild Coast of South Africa and set to the rhythm of the local people, Wild Ocean 3D reveals the economic and cultural impact of the ocean while celebrating the communal efforts to protect our invaluable marine resources.

The film chronicles a massive annual feeding frenzy; billions of sardines travel up the Wild Coast and to the coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal. For the people living along the African shore, this migration has provided a food source for countless generations while farther out at sea ocean predators come from great distances to feast.A black tip shark swims by the camera looking for food. Photo by Luke Cresswell.

Bottlenose dolphins create superpods, thousands strong, to track down the huge shoals using sonar. Sharks sense blood in the water and join the hunt. Seals and common dolphins chase the fish from cooler currents up the coast into the warmer tropical waters. Diving birds, Cape Gannets, join the battle with aerial attacks from the sky.

All of these animals are drawn to the scene, enmeshed in one of the most incredible mass feeding melees in the natural world.

Unfortunately, such a richness of life is now rare in our seas. For centuries the ocean was considered a vast limitless resource. As fishing practices grew more industrialized and efficient throughout the 20th century, entire fish stocks around North America, Europe, and Asia began to collapse.

The fish, hauled onto boats by the ton, were an integral part of a complex marine ecosystem, a link in a great food chain on which many predators depend.

Young men work hard netting Sardines on Umzumbe Beach, KwaZulu-Natal. Photo by Steve McNicholas.Eventually, entire fish species were decimated and the ocean predator populations went into a steep decline. Now a new threat, global climate change, threatens to further damage the fragile ocean ecology.

While Wild Ocean 3D explores the causes and effects of man’s impact, it is an inspirational film looking toward a bright future, taking audiences to a rare unspoiled marine wilderness to glimpse what the oceans of the world once looked like. The film champions the creation of marine reserves necessary to bring our oceans back to life. South Africa leads the way. It is a film about the people that come together to protect our world. Hope is alive on the Wild Coast, where Africa meets the sea.

Wild Ocean 3D is a production of Giant Screen Films and Yes/No Productions. The film is written and directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, the Academy Award nominated creators of the international sensation STOMP. Cresswell and McNicholas have previously teamed with Giant Screen Films on the award-winning giant-screen film, Pulse: a STOMP Odyssey. Photography is by award winning director of photography, Reed Smoot with underwater photography by D.J. Roller. Original music by Cresswell and McNicholas with sound design and mix by Mike Roberts and Brian Eimer. Check out the film's trailer on the official website at www.wildoceanfilm.com

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