Frogs and town transitions in focus in ABI-area
Three community-based projects operating in the Overberg have been selected to receive support under the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) Small Grants Facility in its first year. The projects range from a frog monitoring citizen science project, to converting a town to best environmental practice.
The ABI Small Grants Facility is supported by the Table Mountain Fund, an associated trust of WWF-South Africa. Earlier this year, ABI requested municipal officials and theme leaders within ABI to put forward potential conservation projects linked to community development. The selected projects will receive support of up to R20,000 each.
The projects include the Whale Coast Frog Project, where citizen scientists from local communities are being upskilled to monitor frog populations. The project is implemented by the Whale Coast Conservation. It has allowed young people from across the Overstand to collect crucial data on the types of frogs found in the wetland areas around the Hermanus Golf Course. The frog monitoring project will now be taken to new areas, such as Stanford, which is home to the endangered Western Leopard Toad. Crucially, the presence of frogs is also an indication of the health of the wetlands in which they’re found.
The Greyton Transition Town, also a beneficiary of the ABI Small Grants Facility, is a community-based non-profit organisation that is bringing communities in and around Greyton together to respond to environmental, economic and social challenges. The group is undertaking projects that are creating employment through environmental businesses, protecting the natural environment and implementing food security and waste management activities.
Through the Greyton Transition Town, the Greyton dump site was converted into a park where environmental education is now offered. The community now hopes to make Greyton the first town in South Africa to phase out plastic shopping bags. The Greyton Transition Town is one of many similar initiatives being rolled out across the world.
A third project aims to bring practical learning support to rural and farm schools, through a Mobile Laboratory unit. ABI’s environmental education theme leader, Gretha Louw, will make use of laboratory equipment to ensure children in primary schools across the Overberg receive practical learning opportunities. The aim is to develop interests in life science and environmental learning through practical experimentation.
Municipal officials from the Cape Agulhas Municipality and the Overstrand Municipality have been involved in rolling out the ABI Small Grants Facility. They also assisted in assessing the projects that applied.
The aim of the Facility is to bring about local action in conservation through community involvement. However, a key part of this is to raise awareness of these conservation initiatives at municipal level helping to focus local Integrated Development Plans on the (often ignored) needs of the rural areas.
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