Twenty one individuals and institutions recently received awards for their outstanding contribution to the maintenance of biodiversity in the Eden District. The Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR) Awards were handed over at a gala dinner at the Garden Route Game Lodge near Albertinia on the 30th of October for the GCBR to honour and appreciate the persons, organisations and individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the GCBR’s first year of existence.
Guest Speaker Dr Kas Hamman, acting CEO of CapeNature, said alien vegetation, runaway veld fires, and the loss of water from catchment area to the coast, posed the biggest threat to biodiversity. He said estuaries, which are an important nursery for many species and recreation area for humans, could only be managed with the help of partners, such as those who were honoured and thanked for their efforts by the awards. “Biodiversity corridors are one way of mitigating the influence of these factors in a small way.” Partnerships are the essence of the vision to promote and invest in protected areas, and they are also needed to manage biodiversity that is outside of protected areas, as more than 80 percent of rare and endangered plants and animals occurred outside protected areas. “We have to plan together for success and to move forward. Most important is education. Children and adults alike need to be informed.” said Dr Hamman.
Vernon Gibbs-Halls of Eden Municipality acted as master of ceremonies, whilst learners from TM Ndanda Primary School in Mosselbay entertained guests with traditional dance performances.
Pieter Coetzee, farmer and businessman from Vanwyksdorp received the award for the most outstanding individual. Coetzee recently donated a bus shelter to the people of Vanwyksdorp.
Lorraine McGibbon, representative of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) received an award for her tireless work in establishing and maintaining international standards at a growing number of eco-schools in Eden. Steff Strydom received an award for the re-establishment of Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra) in the Groenefontein area of the Karoo. This species is unique in its quality as a carbon dioxide equaliser.
The following individuals received awards for their excellent contribution to the wellbeing of the biosphere:
Willem Roodman of Hessequa Municipality
Anna Saaiman, Maria Williams and Esbe Williams who are involved in the eradication of alien species in the Stilbaai area
Ladismith High School
Kruisrivier Primary School
Aiden Beck of the Oyster Bay Reserve
Alien eradication contractors who work with CapeNaure
Beverley Boer of Mosselbay Environmental Partnership
Nick Scholtz of Lower Breede River Conservancy
Robert den Drijwer of Oudtshoorn Municipality Parks Department
Roland Scholtz of Fransmanshoek Conservancy
Warren Manual of Mosselbay Municipality
Shagon Carelse of Hessequa Municipality