GKS declares protected areas

THE Kromensee Nature Reserve and The Sand River Private Nature Reserve were officially opened on Wednesday at an event held at St Francis Links in the Eastern Cape.

Because of the possible threat local wind farms pose to the local conservation, particularly where the bird and bat populations are concerned, an initiative called the Greater Kromme Stewardship (GKS) has been started near St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape by two groups of environmentally-minded people: The Kromme Enviro-Trust, St Francis, and the Wind Energy Collective.

The Kromme Enviro-Trust, is an environmentalist organisation started by a group of volunteers as far back as 1981. Its supporters have a deep interest in the welfare of the animals and plants that make this area their home.

The Wind Energy Collective is a group of like-minded wind farm developers. These developers are not just green energy producers; they are also committed to environmental responsibility. Wind Energy Collective includes Gibson Bay Wind Farm, Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm, Kouga Wind Farm, Oyster Bay Wind Farm and Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm.

Together, these groups formed the Greater Kromme Stewardship, a pioneering conservation project that will endeavour to make sure that the new wind farms have a positive impact on the local environment.

These partners are using an approach called Biodiversity Stewardship - an exciting new process that can declare nature reserves on private land and help ordinary people become responsible stewards of the natural spaces that they own

Conservation Outcomes, experts in Biodiversity Stewardship, have been brought in to manage the project, including the appointment of a full time stewardship facilitator and an intern to operate in the area. The project also has the full support of the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency.

As proponents of ‘green’ power, the Greater Kromme Stewardship (GKS) is committed to conservation, not just of the bird and bat life by creating a safe refuge for them, but also of all threatened biodiversity in the district.

Maggie Langlands from Kromme Enviro-Trust says, “We didn’t know we were doing something extraordinary when we came together on this project. An independent assessor tells us that this initiative has secured more priority land for conservation in the Kouga region than any other initiative in the last 50 years.”

The first two protected areas, namely the Kromensee Nature Reserve and The Sand River Private Nature Reserve, were officially opened on Wednesday at an event held at St Francis Links Golf Estate.

Conservation Outcomes Kevin McCann says, “These are only the first two of ten sites in line for declaration as protected areas, and after that there are a number of other sites we are actively assessing for protection. This is an area with exceptional biodiversity and unique species – this initiative by the wind farms is doing remarkable things for conservation in the landscape.”