17 November 2020

“Worldwide there is a general perception that COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown measures implemented globally have had a positive impact on nature and the environment we share and depend upon for survival,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

“From crystal clear waterways in Venice to dolphins frolicking in places they were never to be found in modern times, clear and unpolluted skies in places like China and India, a dramatic drop in illicit animal trade, including reduced rhino poaching and the closure of wet markets in Asia, there is general consensus that the impact of humans on natural ecosystems is vast, and more importantly, that much of it can be addressed proactively by the collective if the will to do so can be generated.

Says Meiring, “Closer to home, natural systems got a short break from constant and increasing human pressure, ranging from reduced emissions from the absence of thousands of vehicles on our roads during lockdown, zero activity on beaches, and a temporary pause on habitat destruction to make way for new houses and infrastructure.”

“Unfortunately, the effects of a changing climate and the calamities it causes globally were ever-present throughout 2020, as the Philippines was hit by ten typhoons and two super typhoons, and California suffered from the worst wildfire disaster of all times, leading to untold destruction, human displacement, and environmental damage and loss of biodiversity.

According to Meiring environmental and conservation management actions in the Southern Cape will take centre stage on Wednesday 9 December as key regional stakeholders will reflect on actions they undertook during 2020, the challenges they faced, showcase their projects and make projections as to what they plan for 2021 at the annual GREF year-end report-back seminar.

The GREF event will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams.

Photo: Touw River

Southern Cape river systems, such as the Touw River, are vital to regional biodiversity conservation connecting the Outeniqua mountains with the Indian Ocean. (Photo: Cobus Meiring)

** The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a regional forum for collaboration in conservation, environmental adaptation and community interaction. The forum aims to coordinate regional conservation efforts, serves as a catalyst to drive climate adaptation practices in the Southern Cape and strives to establish a better-coordinated approach to environmental management.

Written by Marti Kirstein