KZN rehab project praised

2014-10-06 00:00

A KZN project has been hailed as a rare hope for life on Earth, in one of the most shocking reports ever produced on the state of the planet.

Researched by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London, the Living Planet Report has dramatically revised earlier numbers to find that the Earth has lost half of its wildlife in 40 years.

Following its launch last week, parents around the world were left to explain to their children how, thanks to humans, the total number of all wild vertebrates — from elephants and fish to plovers and salamanders — have been cut in half in their lifetimes.

The report blamed “habitat loss, [pollution] and degradation, and exploitation through hunting and fishing” as the primary causes for the 52% decrease in the number of individual animals ●— and said that life in the world’s rivers had been slashed by an astonishing 76%.

South Africa was ranked worse than China for the “ecological footprint” of each citizen, with researchers concluding that “a typical resident of South Africa would need 1,4 planets” to survive, if all humans lived like South Africans. Based on the report’s tables which include carbon footprint and land use — one WWF expert said the lifestyle of middle class South Africans would require four Earths, if all humans used resources the way local suburbanites do. Palestine and poorer African countries, like Mozambique and Rwanda, had the smallest negative impact on nature, while the footprints of Kuwaitis and Americans were said to pose the greatest threat to wild creatures.

However, the report pointed to four “planet solution” models to slow the trend, including a low-impact farming approach in Australia, a wind energy project in Denmark, and a wetlands rehabilitation project in KwaZulu-Natal.

The authors praised the rehabilitation of wetlands around Lake St Lucia and other ecosystems in the broader iSimangaliso Wetland Park, in a project led by packaging giant Mondi.

The report found that the company had sacrificed five percent of its potential forestry land — including 23 000 hectares around St Lucia — to “restore ecosystems”, restart fresh water flows, and promote a community ownership model.

It states: “As well as benefiting Lake St Lucia’s many birds and freshwater species, [there are] elephants, rhinos, giraffes and cheetahs in areas which, just a few years ago, were dense pine forest.”

Christine Colvin, a South African freshwater expert for the WWF, told The Witness: “This is real kudos for South Africa and KZN, and for good reason the Mondi Wetlands model is being imported to plantation areas in the Danube basin in Eastern Europe, and elsewhere,” she said.

However, Colvin said that, overall, half of South Africa’s wetlands had been damaged in recent decades — and that the country’s wild populations had been decimated in line with global trends.

Colvin said she was personally “shocked” by the revised findings, and said human survival would be threatened if the trend continued.

“For starters, we won’t be able to feed ourselves without living rivers,” she said.

David Lindley, manager of Wetlands project, said: “Mondi has led the way, but actually all forestry plantation companies and government have got stuck in to rehabilitate our wetlands. But there’s a long way to go.”

Lindley described the WWF findings as representing “an environmental catastrophe”.

The report mentions decimated populations in species from carbou and the forest elephant to fish species and the curlew sandpiper.

Ironically, white rhino — currently under siege by poachers — are one species which have shown massive growth in these 40 years, increasing from around 500 in the 1960s to over 20 000 today.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.