Nature offers resources that provide life and livelihoods.
But if these resources aren’t used sustainably, then it threatens the health of our ecosystems – and in turn impacts on our wellbeing, and on our livelihoods.
It’s therefore essential to prevent over-exploitation and over-use. In the Kogelberg Biosphere, nature offers us an abundance of resources: water for life, fynbos for flower markets, food from the ocean, thatch for roofing, and so much more.
But it’s not always used sustainably and faces many threats. That’s why we’re been communicating with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and other partners as we highlight the many concerns around sustainable management of our natural resources in the Kogelberg Biosphere. We’ve taken a partnership approach, and represent the collective who are working to protect our natural resources.
One of our biggest challenges is the illegal over-exploitation of a strange-looking sea snail that lives just off our coastline: abalone (or perlemoen).
In the past, great pockets of abalone could be seen lying 2-3m deep in the waters off our coast. However, the Asian market now demands abalone en masse, which has led to illegal poaching operations running along our shores.
These poaching operations rob South Africa and its people of this resource and the income that could have been derived from its sustainable harvesting. Today it’s illegal to remove abalone at all from the wild.
Abalone (Haliotis midae)
Abalone (Haliotis midae) take 6 to 7 years to reach sexual maturity in the wild and at this age the shell diameter is a minimum of 80-90mm but more commonly 130-140mm. When they reach a stage where they are ready to settle on the near-shore seabed, they must be in the right environment, otherwise they die. Ideally, they find a sea-urchin to settle under. Not only do sea urchins protect the tiny abalone from predation by fish, urchins also feed on kelp so there’s a supply of detritus for the developing abalone. Once the young abalone achieve a shell diameter of about 30-50mm, they find a rocky surface on which to settle. By then they have developed a rasping tongue or radula that allow them to rasp away at kelp fronds to feed.
Abalone must be gregarious and live close together otherwise the female eggs will go unfertilised if there are no males nearby to release sperm. This is where over-exploitation (including poaching) have brought wild abalone stocks to the point of extinction. This is made worse when undersized and therefore sexually-immature abalone are taken, which places more strain on stocks already under stress.
All of this shows how important it is that there should be strategically placed marine reserves where wild stocks of marine organisms can live and reproduce unhindered by man.
The Biosphere, in partnership with the Overberg District Municipality (ODM) and Elgin Grabouw Cycling Association, is providing work to 4 local youths from the Grabouw area as part of the ODM Expanded Public Works (EPWP) programme. These youngsters are conducting daily patrols in the old Forestry Areas from Eikenhof Dam to Sir Lowry’s Pass. They report fires, assist with trail building and raising awareness on the importance of conserving the forestry areas that form part of the Kogelberg Biosphere buffer zone.
FORESTRY EXIT AREAS
The Biosphere working with the Grabouw Development Agency (GDA) and local landowners are in constant discussions with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) about the forestry areas. As the Kogelberg Biosphere, we are deeply concerned about the lack of management of the DFFE forestry land. While DFFE is the legal landowner, as the Biosphere we cannot sit back and see the continued destruction of these areas. That’s why we are supporting local landowners, NGOs and government agencies to work together to find solutions. As the Biosphere we have raised our concerns with our stakeholders and will continue doing so.
THREATS & SOLUTIONS
The Kogelberg Biosphere takes this threat, and many other threats to our resources very seriously. We are a member of the local community police forum, working to address ongoing abalone poaching and find alternative solutions and job creation opportunities.
At the same time, we’ve partnered with WWF South Africa, to make the reporting of wildlife crimes and other threats easy and accessible to everyone. WWF South Africa has launched a new app, called the Kogelberg C.A.R.E app. C.A.R.E stands for Coastal Area Reporting & Engagement. Here anyone who lives in or visits the Kogelberg Biosphere can report wildlife-related incidents such as poaching, marine wildlife strandings and even wildfires on the app. It’s manned 24/7 via a command centre linked to the national Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. The app is free of charge and can be downloaded from the Google Playstore or the iOS App Store.
ESTATE AGENTS: TAKE A LOOK AT THIS TOOLKIT FOR SELLING PROPERTY IN THE KOGELBERG BIOSPHERE. It’s taken from a workshop recently organised by the Biosphere for estate agents, and provides tips on serving both people and nature when selling houses. Download here (and click on each presentation heading for more info)
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