Knysna Environment

Environmental Management

The issue of Environmental Conservation takes centre stage in the strategic objectives of the Municipality which aims to promote a safe and healthy environment through the protection of our natural resources. We have always placed a high premium on the conservation of the natural wealth of the area. The municipality is fortunate to be located within the Garden Route National Park, which ensures that the Municipality has to work in co-operation with environmental authorities such as SANParks, Cape Nature, DEADP and other conservation forums to ensure that natural resources are protected and enhanced for future generations.

The value chain of the natural resources in Knysna is connected directly and indirectly to environmental conservation. The Knysna Estuary, the indigenous forest and the pristine coastline with abundant wildlife are the reasons why people relocate their families and businesses here. The tranquil small town feeling of Knysna a key attraction for specialised tertiary economic sectors to relocate here. The town is enveloped by the Garden route National Park, of which the estuary forms part, and is the main tourist attraction. Development has been restricted along the estuary mainly due to efforts from the environmental conservation sector. The contribution of the tourist industry in Knysna cannot be ignored – tourists come for the natural beauty of the area and their stay subsequently facilitates economic growth and ensures more employment opportunities for local residents. Environmental conservation is therefore of great significance in the socio-economic fabric and sustainability of Knysna.

Knysna Municipality and its people are acting as custodians of an area which is regarded as one of the biodiversity hotspots of the Cape Floral Kingdom. This requires the Municipality to implement the principles of a Green Economy as well as the application of innovation in terms of the Blue Economy. The freshwater ecosystems provide valuable natural resources with economic, aesthetic, spiritual, cultural and recreational value. At least 11 vegetation types are identified to the region within two separate Afro-temperate forest and Fynbos biomes.

The impact of the fire on environmental management

The environmental impact from the fires will be felt for decades. Natural vegetation worst affected include Southern Afro-temperate forest, Knysna Sand Fynbos and Southern Cape Dune Fynbos, forestry plantations and to a lesser extent cultivated lands and residential golf course estates. Damage incurred by the agricultural sector is estimated R40 million. Undulating hills and coastal plains proved the most vulnerable types of topography. The extent and destructive power of the fire was aggravated by climate change and the proliferation of alien invasive vegetation such as Akasia and Rooikrans. The effect of the fire on the landscape has created a new set of risks which needs to be managed.

Wetlands Awareness Poster

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