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One of the most effective ways of

getting people to learn about our

country’s water challenges is by sharing

citizen science

processes. These help

people to engage with water issues and

to take action to solve them.

The miniSASS water citizen science

tool enables individuals to determine

the health of a stream or river. We have

worked closely with GroundTruth, with

support from the Water Research

Commission, to develop a simple

identification sheet for this

bio-monitoring tool. This will enable

participants to calculate a river health

index, along with a Google Earth map

and database for uploading results to

develop an interactive map of river

health across southern Africa. We have

introduced this tool into many of our

projects as a way of getting people

involved in the monitoring of their local

river systems.

Securing protected areas

Our organisation was founded on a

commitment to protect biodiversity and

has a long track record in this field of

work. Our integrated landscapes

approach to conservation endeavours

to give formal protection status to areas

of high biodiversity value. We’re

currently focusing on four key

landscape conservation initiatives in

South Africa.

The Verlorenvlei Protected Areas


on the West Coast, in which

WESSA and Birdlife SA are partners,

includes the Ramsar proclaimed estuary

of the Verlorenvlei and its principal

catchment Moutonshoek. Despite this

important wetland having Ramsar

status, there is a disconnect between its

conservation value and formal protection

on the ground. The three-year project,

funded by the Nedbank Green Trust, is

developing an application for submission

to the Department of Environmental

Affairs for protected area status for

Verlorenvlei. An associated

Environmental Management Plan is

also being developed. Its focus will be

on the wise use of the area’s water

resources and will contribute to the

protection of a vulnerable habitat, thus

sustaining endangered and critically

endangered fauna and flora.

The Magaliesberg area –

sometimes referred to as the last green

island in the heart of the heavily

developed Pretoria, Johannesburg and

Rustenburg region – is home to over

450 bird species and is recognised

nationally and internationally for its

conservation value.

The Magaliesberg

Biosphere Reserve

project started in

2006 when the Magaliesberg Protection

Association, with whom we’ve been

active since 1975, undertook an

exploration of a biosphere for the area.

This led to the formation of the

Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative

Group, which has championed the

project. In June 2015 this dedication


Africa and abroad. His work, now

often housed in art galleries, is used

to inspire fellow crafters to aim high,

produce quality, utilise responsibly and

price cleverly. This is evident in the

Wild Coast Crafter initiative, of which

he was a founder, and the Wild Coast

Forest Users Association, of which he

is an active member.

When not sculpting, Zolani works

eight days a month on the WESSA-

initiated Community Works invasive

alien plant clearing and forest restoration

project. His indigenous knowledge

about his forest area contributed

extensively to the participatory forest

mapping exercise undertaken by

forest expert, Dr Derek Berliner, as

part of the WESSA Critical Ecosystem

Partnership Fund (CEPF) projects.

Today Zolani is no longer the only

forest livelihood’s ambassador.

More and more people are willing to

become ambassadors like him, due to

an increase in awareness and an

appreciation for how taking care of the

forest can benefit the whole community.