PRESERVATION OF BIODIVERSITY
The synergy between wind power production and the preservation of local biodiversity is paramount. With this view, the Greater Kromme Stewardship (GKS) was founded by a collective of Eastern Cape wind farms, six years ago. Since its inception it has been widely recognised for securing more priority land for conservation in the Kouga region than any other independent conservation body in the last fifty years.
The organisation was set up to pursue the declaration of new protected zones within conservation priority areas. This is no small undertaking, considering the number of stakeholders involved, the extensive procedures required and the bureaucracy involved. However, it is weighed off against the protection of large numbers of critically endangered, vulnerable and rare species, making it all worth the effort.
Biodiversity Stewardship Facilitator for GKS, Wentzel Coetzer, “Biodiversity is the variety and abundance of different forms of life that makes up our natural world, and it includes all forms of life (e.g., animals, plants, fungi, microorganisms, etc.). Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive, such as food, clean water, medicine, and shelter. Biodiversity is thus the cornerstone of a healthy and functional natural environment and it is essential for human wellbeing.
The partnership comprises the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, Gibson Bay Wind Farm, Oyster Bay Wind Farm, Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm, along with an environmental NGO called Kromme Enviro-Trust.
“The primary aim of the GKS initiative is to secure important biodiversity and habitats in the greater Kouga-Koukamma region as a means to, firstly, compensate for the impacts of wind energy generation on the environment and, secondly, to maintain a healthy and functional natural environment that will make a positive contribution to the wellbeing of the local communities in the region.”
The GKS initiative also aims to create awareness of the natural environment and biodiversity of the region through environmental education.
What are some of the projects and what footprint is covered?
Securing new Protected Areas (e.g., Nature Reserves) on private and communal land through the nationally recognised Biodiversity Stewardship Programme.
Projects to improve the management and protection of a number of areas of state-owned land with critically important biodiversity.
Babize-bonke Environmental Education project, which aims to build a greater conservation awareness in the region, primarily amongst youth.
Identify potential green economy socio-economic development and/or enterprise development opportunities in the region for the GKS members to invest in.
For wind farms established decades ago, what can they now implement?
There’s no reason why wind farms established “decades” ago are any different to those established today. There have only been wind farms in SA for one decade so far, and one of the leaders into the field was the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm. Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm was not far behind, and Gibson Bay was also an early entrant.