Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crazy Festive Season after many years of drought

The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park has been plagued with bad management decisions since 1999. First and foremost is the ban of use of recreational beach vehicles. This was a great part of the financial support generated by the previous authorities to manage the health of the very important Marine Estuary environment. Since the government needed to get Mr Vali Moosa on UICN. Most of South Africas Coast Line has been covered in hard surface development and the rest is rocky shore line and can not be utilized for RUV's (Recreational Utility Vehicles). This impacted on the annual average tourist visits since the early years the impact was spread over the winter and summer period.

With a 100 school holidays per year it was clear the the environment has 265 days to recuperate. With hard surface developments currently planned by iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authorities behind closed doors with out public participation or with out a Integrated Management Plan that is available for public viewing no one knows what their future entails and where and what to expect. The Authorities has recently pushed down a section of Green Belt/Conservation area that belonged to the local Municipalities and build a water reservoir for their own personal needs with out Environmental Impact Studies or the approval of the local Municipality.

Recent Chaos at the Sodwana Gate has once more proven their lack of planning and management skills. It is clear that the park is being redeveloped to accommodate only very rich upmarket foreign tourists and access that was granted over the past 80 years to domestic tourism has been revoked with out consultation or prior advertisement or knowledge.  This leads to mass cancellations of accommodations and an exodus to cross boarder venues. With the imbalance of influx of South African tourist evenly spread over winter and summer holidays the people at the craft markets are worst impacted and the divide between rich and poor is getting bigger and the heritage suffer from the haddock un planned hard surface developments  popping up like mush rooms all over a pristine coastal Heritage Site.

"While hundreds of local and international tourists are soaking up the sun at St Lucia's iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, poor rural people living around it are raking in the money this festive season." From Times Live

Manipulation of mass media from time to time always distort the true reflection of a planning phase gone wrong and cowboy tactics deployed to do crisis management from season to season. The utilization of this coastal heritage was always a well thought out plan with low human impact even with high utilization all across the seasons. The infrastructure that was taken over is poorly maintained and has deteriorated beyond economical value. The marine estuary is nothing more than a swampy mud bath and have not functioned as a marine nursery in almost 9 years. This alone is a catastrophe for the greater Marine health of the coast line between Kosi bay and Richards Bay.

If something is not done soon this ad hock cow boy style development will leave this pristine holiday destination in taters with hard surface development done by an irresponsible manager all over the place and changing the face of this pristine wilderness area all generations to come.

The public needs participation in the planning phases.
The Communities needs access to the development and management plans.
The utilization areas needs to be reinstated so a healthy spread is given over a section of area large enough to handle the impact and not all concentrated in one small area with over development and crazy out of control masses gathering to enjoy the freedom lost.

by: Petrus Viviers
081 342 7371

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