The Northern Cape Province is the custodian of a 412 km stretch of remote and beautiful coastline. As part of their mandate to implement the Integrated Coastal Management Act (Act 24 of 2008), the Coastal Management Unit of the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (DENC), embarks on an annual coastal audit. The audit was conducted from the 9th to the 14th of November 2014.
The audit group consisted of 14 people, including representatives from the DENC units of Coastal Management, Compliance, GIS, Protected Areas, Policy and Planning; as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs, Oceans and Coasts; the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Public Works.
The purpose of the audit was:
• To identify sensitive areas with respect to coastal vegetation, seal and tern breeding colonies.
• To assess the status of these sensitive sites.
• Revisit all development areas with respect to mining, tourism and aquaculture.
• To monitor further degradation, erosion or whether previous recommendations has been adhered to. • Verification of discharge sites.
• Identify new impacts e.g. Boreholes.
• Evaluate new impacts e.g. Storm surges and pollution.
• Monitor the extent of off-road-vehicle driving.
• Determining coastal assets.
• Identify public launching sites that need to be gazetted.
• Provision of data to update the Coastal Viewer.
The Northern Cape coastline comprises of a remote and rural stretch of beach. Even with proper planning, there is always the uncertainty of whether you will arrive at accommodation facilities on time due to the difficult terrain that is traversed. As a result, the team often had to select the most appropriate place to set up a camp. In addition, shops and restaurants are basically non-existent in the area and consumables have to be purchased in bulk in advance.
DENC’s 4x4 skills were put to the test, but luckily the participants had their very own ‘Voetspore’ team and 4x4 experts, as well as Klaas van Zyl and Enrico Oosthuysen who always came to the rescue. Their valuable knowledge and willingness in supporting this initiative should not be underestimated as they really played a prominent role in the success of this venture.
As tiring as it was, those present were rewarded with some of the most beautiful scenery the Northern Cape Province’s coastline has to offer, such as extraordinary sunsets and breathtaking sunrises.
The next coastal audit will take place in November 2015. DENC is already planning to involve more relevant departments in this audit, since Integrated Coastal Management is not about operating in isolation, but making it everybody’s business, as we all have a responsibility to take care of our coastal environment.
Article contributed by Wilna Oppel from Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation.