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.

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

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".

Xolobeni mining update

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”.

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

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.

UNLESS

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.

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

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

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.

Wild Ocean 3D

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

Flood of Objections to Wild Coast Toll Road

January 29, 2009 press statement by SWC. For immediate release.

Flood of Objections to Wild Coast Toll Road

An unprecedented flood of thousands of objections has poured in to the consultants tasked with writing the final Report on the Wild Coast Toll Road EIA, despite holiday season timing for public comment.

The submissions have come from individuals, communities, businesses,
environmental organisations and civil society groups, while in Durban, where road users are protesting extra toll booths, local government have joined the chorus.

Many of the comments have described the EIAR as ‘fatally flawed” in many ways, but particularly in its lack of compliance with required legal standards and adherence to public participation norms.

It also

  • misleadingly characterises the project as a regional social development initiative
  • misleadingly assesses the benefits of secondary development
  • fails to assess socio-economic impacts
  • DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS N2 TOLL ROAD

    The deadline for public comments on the new N2 Wild Coast Toll road EIA is 22 January.

    Please send your comments to:

    Theo Hansford
    NMA Effective Social Strategists (Pty) Ltd.
    Box 32097
    Braamfontein, 2017.
    Fax: 086 601 0381
    Email: theoh@nma.org.za

    A number of requests were received from people who wished to send in comments against the N2 toll road proposal and in support of SWC (Sustaining the Wild Coast - www.swc.org.za) principles. Val Payn compiled the following (below) for general use. Please feel free to adapt or adjust it however you see fit. You can delete anything you don't personally agree with, or feel free to add any of your own comments that you feel it does not cover, or are more suitable for your own circumstances. You're also welcome to 'personalize' the wording in whatever way you like. However, if you would like to send it exactly as it is, then it is recommended that you include a 'provisio' along the lines of:-

    Illegal fishing vessels along Wild Coast

    Some of you might be aware of reports about possible illegal fishing vessel activity along the Wild Coast over the last few years. As the authorities seem to happily take the stance that 'if we don't see it then it ain't happening' Val Payn from SWC (www.swc.org.za) thought it might be useful if members of the public could help to become 'eyes and ears' to try and gauge the extent of the problem.

    If you are down at the Wild Coast and happen to see/hear what might be 'suspicious fishing vessel activity' within the Pondoland Protected Marine Zone then please make a note of the time and place, and any other details that you can, and if possible try and get some photos or any other 'eye witness' evidence.

    You can pass this onto swcoastval@gmail.com or
    PO Box 44, Harding, 4680.

    Please include your contact details.

    Please pass this onto anyone else who might visit the Wild Coast.

    Xolobeni & the Continental Shelf

    Continental shelfThe Mzamba/Xolobeni area is located closer to the Continental Shelf than any other part of South Africa, and, interestingly enough, there is a cretaceous deposit and "petrified forest" at the mouth of the Mzamba river. Also interesting, although possibly unconnected, is the fact that the Pondoland Center of Endemism (PCE) seems to fall exactly adjacent to the "trench" where the Continental Shelf is closest to the actual African continent.

    Amongst other weirdnesses this may play a role in the unique coastal flat rocks and reefs in the area.

    The continental shelf regions contain the greatest amount of benthic life (plants and animals that live on the ocean floor).

    Ocean Currents and Tides: The Treacherous Agulhas

    In order to sail the South Atlantic and round the tip of Africa, Portuguese sailors had to confront two powerful ocean flows: the Agulhas and Benguela currents.

    The warm Agulhas runs south and west from the Indian Ocean pushing against the near-freezing waters of Antarctica, before meeting the cold Benguela current off the Cape of Good Hope.

    The second swiftest current in all the world's oceans, the Agulhas is deadlier than the swiftest current (the Gulf Stream) for two reasons. First one of its branches surges through a narrow passageway between Madagascar and Mozambique on the east coast of South Africa (downward arrow on map). Furthermore its waters rush from north to south--the opposite direction from which Portuguese ships needed to travel in order to round the tip of Africa.

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