Documentary film director, Laurence Dworkin and George Davis, the Deputy Director of Communications at SANBI, have been the masterminds behind the production of a new film in the CareTakers series. The film is simply titled ‘Knersvlakte’, and is a story about respectful land use, traditional tenure, conservation planning and collaborative management of natural resources. The film was officially launched at the Gala Dinner of the 2011 SKEP Partners’ Conference.
The Knersvlakte is a SKEP geographic priority area, consisting of an extensive dry plain, covering a 48,500-hectare area in the center of the Succulent Karoo hotspot, bounded on the east by the Bokkeveld Mountains. Fields of white quartz pebbles cover the rolling hills of the area and are associated with unique dwarf succulent plants. The region has a total of 1,324 species, 266 of which are Succulent Karoo endemics. Small-scale mining for gypsum, diamonds and limestone/marble, overgrazing and the illegal harvesting of rare and spectacular species for national and foreign plant collections are the greatest pressures in this area.
It is within this landscape that the film magically transports viewers into the deep soul of the different communities who live and work in the Knersvlakte. In the area there are also subsistence and commercial farmers, who face many challenges in securing their livelihoods in this uncertain and harsh environment.
The Knersvlakte film seamlessly demonstrates the pure essence of the SKEP partnership in action. Throughout the film we are told the multi-stakeholder story by Elbe Cloete, CapeNature’s area manager stationed at Vanrhynsdorp. Cloete sets the scene of the Knersvlakte region by providing one with a sense of place and highlights the importance of the Knersvlakte as a biodiversity hotspot.
We also hear the deep wisdom and rich history of the Griqua from leader Cecil le Fleur, and Griqua community members Valerie and Thuys Mentoor. Commercial farmer Bertie de Beer elaborates on family land tenure legacy, whilst WWF-SA land programme manager Natasha Wilson emphasizes the global importance of the Knersvlakte to WWF.
Film viewers will witness the sheer brilliance and love of the dwarf succulent plants from CapeNature botanist Annelise le Roux, and the mentoring and coaching role le Roux provides to the Knersvlakte conservation manager Adrian Fortuin.
The Griqua people regard the area as their ancestral home and were granted a piece of land through the government’s land reform programme granting them ownership to the farm Ratelgat. To the botanists, the Knersvlakte offers a mecca of plant diversity and endemism. CapeNature, the conservation authority responsible for nature conservation in the area, is supported by land purchases made by WWF-SA as collective effort to have the Knersvlakte Nature Reserve legally proclaimed.
In typical documentary style, the Knersvlakte film is 25 minutes in duration, with the intention to educate, advocate and inspire people to become active participants in the conservation of this area . Applying a methodology of facilitated screenings, and targeting primarily the youth, the film will be augmented by other learning materials, and will be taken pro-actively into the learning domain.
CareTakers is a documentary film project about South Africa's rich natural heritage, and the dedicated people who care for it. In the face of overwhelming biodiversity loss, habitat degradation, and human-induced climate change, there is a pressing need for clear calls to effective action.