World Nature Conservation Day 2022
World Nature Conservation Day 2022
28th July is World Nature Conservation Day. The idea around celebrating this day is to increase awareness about the importance of protecting our natural resources.
It is unknown when World Nature Conservation Day was first celebrated, neither is the founder of the day known. What is known is that we have a responsibility to contribute to the protection or conservation of South Africa’s (and the world’s) natural resources. The term Natural Resources is defined as materials or substances occurring in nature which can be exploited for economic gain (Oxford Dictionary). This includes water, soil, minerals, energy sources (i.e., coal, natural gas) and forests.
In this Q&A, Emma Fourie, Principal Consultant at Shangoni, shares some insight on World Nature Conservation Day in a South African context.
What are the most crucial natural resources that we need to protect in SA at the moment?
Typically, in South Africa, when we think about saving / conserving resources, we think about water. This is absolutely valid and crucial, however, of equal importance is the conservation of soil (arable land). Soil degradation not only leads to loss of biodiversity but also the loss of valuable ground for food production in a country that is very reliant on agriculture for its livelihood.
How can South Africans play their part in protecting our natural resources?
Start local. Start small. As individuals, if we create habits such as Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, in our everyday lives, it will spill over to our colleagues and companies, which may lead to mind shifts in the leaders who have greater influences over decision making processes.
On an individual scale:
- join local conservation movements such as river clean-up projects,
- support informal waste collectors (e.g., by washing and separating recyclables),
- support wildlife conservation organisations, whether it is through sharing social media posts or donations.
- reduce electricity use (very easy thanks to loadshedding).
On a larger scale, the following can be done by organisations to help protect and conserve our natural resources:
- Education and awareness drives.
- Company sponsorships.
- Attending workshops or conferences hosted by conservation bodies and sharing lessons learnt with our peers, leading to the spreading of awareness (once again, education).
- Implementing ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) policies / goals.
How does Shangoni play a role in influencing decisions to assist organisations in protecting our natural resources?
The company name, Shangoni, reflects our African heritage and is a Venda word meaning “of the earth”, or “for the earth”, which reflects our commitment to preservation of our planet and communities. Our moto is to influence decisions including those decisions that can directly impact on conservation.
We offer a wide array of services that can assist your organisation in preventing, mitigating and/or monitoring environmental impacts and protecting natural resources, such as:
- Environmental Impact Assessments and Management Programmes;
- Rehabilitation and closure planning;
- Biodiversity assessments and action plans;
- Applications for authorisations;
- Development and maintenance of management systems.
Interesting facts about the history of conservation in South Africa (Source: https://www.dffe.gov.za/projectsprogrammes/peopleparks/southafrican_conservationhistory):
- Hunting first became regulated in the Cape in 1656 under instruction of Jan van Riebeeck.
- Measures to conserve the Southern Cape forests around Plettenberg Bay were first introduced in 1811.
- The first game reserves in South Africa were established in the late 1800’s.
- Chiefs and tribal councils were responsible for making and keeping the rules for resource control.
- Since 1994, political changes in South Africa have fundamentally changed the attitudes of Protected Areas’ management agencies and owners. Previously, communities were excluded from playing a role in protecting the environment. Today, people are becoming shareholders and new practices for Protected Areas are being created, allowing all people to play a critical role in conservation.
We are currently in the UN decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global rallying cry to heal our planet. What will your contribution as an individual and as an organisation be?