Monday, 14 November 2011

Durban Branch and its growing link to communities

Groups facing major environmental challenges are now joining the branch.  Yesterday Crispin Hemson and Margaret Burger met with Victor Zondo (all of us on the Branch Committee) and others at a meeting at a primary school in Mt Royal, a low-cost housing area near Phoenix Industrial Park.  Local residents are trying to develop an Eco-park in the area between Mt Royal, Southgate in Phoenix and Mr Moria, another low-cost development.  The area lines the Piesang River, and there is a significant area of bush, though it has been badly affected by invasive vegetation, by dumping and by illegal activities such as sand-winning.  There are though some areas of co-operative vegetable gardening, and the idea is to reach agreement between local people and government on an allocation of land to gardening and to conservation.  There are great possibilities for the use of the area for education, and our suggestion  was that we soon take a walk into the bush and start not just identifying trees but also putting tree labels on them.  The key to this work is effective community work and communication, and there is  long struggle ahead.

The other new project addresses water pollution at Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban.  Here, Sbu and Prince Mkhize have joined the WESSA Durban Branch and we will be working together first to test the water quality and then to link up with schools and other community groupings to tackle the problems, which are both conservation and health issues.

We have also been contacted by residents of Briardene for collaboration on issues of alien clearing.

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