The purpose of the Recover St. Lucia's Biodiversity campaign is clearly defined in the campaign name.
Lake St. Lucia and the St. Lucia estuary system are in ecological and environmental trouble due to changing weather patterns, human development and bad management by the appointed custodian amongst many other reasons. We need to keep in mind that the Greater St. Lucia wetlands Park was declared a world heritage site in December 1999, where one of the core values that UNESCO championed for the inscription of the area as a world heritage site, was the very large BIODIVERSITY within the Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park.
The IWPA ( iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority ) and its predecessor have been mandated by the WHCA (World Heritage Convention Act) and associated legislation to look after Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, where biodiversity, ecological integrity and environmental health are some of the primary issues that need proper management strategies.
How ever due to reasons unknown to the public. Lake St. Lucia and the St. Lucia estuary system have lost most of their biodiversity, and this needs to be addressed. We no longer have recreational boating, recreational fishing, recreational ecotourism and associated activities taking place within the St. Lucia estuary and the IWPA as the legal custodian of the area needs to be held accountable for the large scale biodiversity collapse, and related tourism losses within Lake St. Lucia, the St. Lucia estuary and surrounding areas.
The IWPA is not holding public participation process meetings and it is difficult for the public to access information about the biodiversity problems as well as what projects, plans and activities are in place to rectify the very serious problems associated with the malfunctioning of the St. Lucia estuary system and associated rivers, waterways, seasonal pans, marshes and surrounding natural environments.
Poor public perception management policies, inadequate public participation processes and other management problems within the IWPA, has ensured that the natural biodiversity within Lake St. Lucia and the St. Lucia estuary system has become a rather serious problem. These biodiversity problems have very large scale impacts on our natural environment as well as the St. Lucia tourism industry, affecting many different sectors, and causing very many job losses within the Umkhanyakude district Municipality.
We no longer have recreational boating, recreational fishing, recreational ecotourism and associated activities taking place within the St. Lucia estuary and surrounding waterways. The absence of these tourism activities is of grave concern to many folks within Umkhanyakude district municipality, as they rely on passing trade associated with these activities for their livelihood. Here we are talking of the arts and craft industry, the food and beverage industry, tourism product suppliers, tour guides and accommodation providers, as well as others.
In 2004 KZN TOURISM published their occasional paper number 20, where the blame for these tourism losses was attributed to the 4x4 ban. However with hind sight and some research into tourism issues within Umkhanyakude, it has become evident that the collapse of the domestic tourism industry within Umkhanyakude is also linked to the collapse of our local biodiversity along with the malfunctioning of Lake St. Lucia, the St. Lucia estuary system and associated waterways, especially the Umfolozi River, with its vast flood plains where sugar cane and other agricultural activities are a concern.
The Recover St. Lucia's Biodiversity campaign is thus in place to give us access to a set of tools and platforms to tackle these very serious issues as independent players. There are already many players in the field, however most of these players have political constraints, and staff who are not prepared to do what it takes to get the job done.
The Recover St. Lucia's Biodiversity campaign will also act as a management tool for the public to enforce legislation and ensure those who are prepared to put in the effort, get the necessary government support and social funding to achieve successful environmental and ecological rehabilitation of the St. Lucia estuary system and surrounding waterways.
This campaign is an independent private initiative, and we need your help in a number of ways, so please share this and subscribe to my blog here.