What is The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development-nrg4SD is composed of Regional Governments and Associations of Regional Governments. nrg4SD was formed at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD, 2002) by a group of regions committed to policies of sustainable development to be a voice for, and to represent regional governments at the global level, promoting sustainable development and partnerships at the regional level around the world. The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development-nrg4SD, has the following basic objectives: ! To represent Regional Governments at a global level. ! To promote Sustainable Development at the regional government level throughout the world. ! To share information and experience concerning Sustainable Development policies with Regional Governments throughout the world. ! To promote understanding, collaboration and association between its members. ! To seek international recognition of the contribution to Sustainable Development made by Regional Governments. ! To obtain representation at International Organisations and National Governments. nrg4SD 5th Conference & 1st General Assembly Global Partnership on Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Post-Disaster Settlements Lake Toba Summit Medan, North Sumatera, Indonesia 10th -12th March 2005 The First Summit of The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD) was held from 10th -12th March 2005 in Lake Toba, -Medan, North Sumatera, Indonesia. This event was the first General Assembly in the constitution of the Network. The Sponsors were: North Sumatera Government, UNITAR, UN-Habitat & UNEP. The theme was Global Partnership on Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Post-Disaster Settlements. Some 200 regional governments from more than 42 countries took part in the world regional governments meeting on sustainable development. Delegates to the conference analysed the opportunities for partnerships on early warning system to prevent disaster, rehabilitation and reconstruction of post disaster settlements, at a regional government level within the UN system. Moreover the Summit focused on translating commitments into reality and strengthening the results of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and Millennium Development Goals. The meeting was a historic event for North Sumatera in particular, and for Indonesia in general. Over 200 000 people lost their lives or are missing while thousands of others became displaced by the tsunamis which hit many parts of Asia, including Aceh and North Sumatera, India, Sri Lanka and East Africa on 26th December 2004. Provincial Government of the Western Cape The Western Cape Provincial Government is a member of The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD). Dr Laurine Platzky (Acting HOD of Housing) and Mr Mark Gordon (Director: Functional Support, Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning) attended the Conference under the delegation from the Premier. 38 In the Network's General Assembly meeting the Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PGWC) was elected International Chair of nrg4SD and the Vice-chair for the Africa Region. The conference highlighted challenges facing developing countries with achieving the goals of sustainable development. This was particularly difficult in the context of the disaster which took place in Banda Aceh in Northern Sumatera but highlighted the need of governments of the world to be proactive in developing contingency plans for national disasters. It was observed that in many respects that the problems being faced with human settlements, poverty and lack of infrastructure mirrored the current problems facing South Africa, particularly the Western Cape. With its new role as chair of the network under the leadership of Minister Tasneem Essop the Provincial Government of the Western Cape is strategically positioned to direct activities of the nrg4SD towards achieving global consensus on sustainable development initiatives. A presentation will be arranged whereby the whole Department will be invited to discuss the outcomes of the Lake Toba Summit. For more info: nrg4SD: http://www.nrg4sd.net Conference: http://www.dambaintra.org/toba.html Compiled by: Sub-Directorate: Operational Policy & Transversal Co-ordination Directorate: Functional Support Poverty and lack of infrastructure are usually the foremost challenges for rehabilitating post-disaster communities 39 Department Contributes to Youth Development I was stimulated to write this article by a series of events I experienced recently that illustrate the stark contrasts and the tremendous potential that makes South African society so unique and challenging. Let's start with CapeNature's three Youth Service Programme groups stationed at Driftsands Nature Reserve, near Khayalitsha, Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve near McGregor and at Witfontein at the Outeniqua Nature Reserve just outside George. The Umsobomvu Youth Development Fund supports the groups financially and CapeNature provides accommodation and logistical support. Each group of about 24 learners is undergoing Nature Conservation Field Ranger Training. They spend time at a variety of reserves in their vicinities learning a variety of field ranger skills, both in theory and in practice. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to contribute to this wonderful initiative through responding to a request from the Chief Director: Environmental and Land Planning, Ms Dipolelo Elford, for a volunteer to give presentations on Environmental Impact Assessment to the three groups. I learned that each group of 24 is supported by two “team leaders” or site officers, employed by CapeNature. The learners complete the years training with a certificate in National Resource Guardianship. The dedication and enthusiasm about youth development shown by all six of the team leaders really impressed me immensely. The team leaders at Driftsands are Nosipho Mhlawuli and Khanyisa Kulashe, those at Vrolijkheid are Linda Mtshibe and Eugene Ohlson and those I met at George are Charlene Gelderbloem and Khaya Baba. After my presentation and discussions on impact assessment at Driftsands, we were guided on a site visit to Blue Downs town centre by Percy Langa of the regional IEM Directorate. There we were met by a planner with the Oostenberg Administration of the City of Cape Town. He and Percy who illustrated the EIA theory I had presented during the morning by discussing the real life communities and the issues that they raised during the environmental assessment process for the development of the town centre. Driftsands YSP group at Blue Downs CBD site visit with Percy Langa and the planner from the City's Oostenberg Administration. My second presentation was to the group of learners at Vrolijkheid. Ayub Mohamed of the regional IEM Directorate accompanied me. After lunch we all visited the site of the proposed regional shopping mall, adjacent to the small dam alongside the N1 that skirts Worcester, that has recently been approved by the Department. Ayub discussed that particular application and the issues and concerns that had been raised by the Worcester community. These issues varied from welcoming the proximity of the proposed shopping facility by many, rejection by the heritage authority of an alternative site, the old slave market, within the town centre, to opposition by the existing businesses in the Worcester town centre, clearly concerned by the forthcoming spatial and economic competition. Site leveling had commenced but there was an eerie silence and lack of construction activity for a huge complex due for completion within the next 2 to 3 years. Apparently the Department has recently received new applications for a Casino and an additional petrol filling station and associated facilities adjacent to the approved site. 40 The third presentation was to the group situated at Witfontein situated outside George. On each of the three occasions, after giving my presentation and answering all the learner's incisive questions, I joined the learners for a sandwich and juice lunch prepared by themselves before going off on the afternoon site visit. Danie Swanepoel, of the regional IEM component in George had organised for Cathy Averinos of Hilland Associates, the consultants responsible for the environmental assessment that led to the Vrolijkheid YSP group at Worcester site visit with Ayub Mohamed. Kingswood Golf and Country Estate's approval, and currently the construction site Environmental Control Officer, to guide us around the site. Cathy gave the group a thorough briefing on the whole EIA process and the environmental issues that arose in compiling the scoping and EIA Reports that led to the authorization of the estate. River rehabilitation, alien clearing, suburban traffic routing, dust and numerous other factors were issues of concern at this site. The YSP lecture “hall” at Witfontein. Cathy took us on an extended walk to some key points of environmental interest within the very active construction site. The group was shown the 'carpet' of wattle seedlings emerging from the areas of riparian wattle infestation that had recently been burned. She showed the learners test plots where experiments on the chemical removal of the seedlings was undertaken to compare results with the hand removal of seedlings. The group was shown the river and told about the river restoration programme, which included the involvement of CapeNature's aquatic specialist, Dean Impson from the Jonkershoek Conservation Station. Witfontein YSP group at Kingswood Golf and Country Estate site visit briefing with Cathy Averinos and Danie Swanepoel. Following my initial briefing about what I hoped that she would illustrate during the site visit and telling her about the Youth Development Programme and the assistance that the learners would need to find jobs once they had completed their course Cathy thrilled me by commenting that appropriate jobs in the environmental field regularly came to her notice during the course of her projects. She later told the 41 Witfontein YSP group at Kingswood Golf and Country Estate with Cathy Averinos. group about this and offered to keep in contact with the course leader and let the learners know, through him, of job opportunities. I realized that if one environmental consultant was willing to help place the learners then, with my contact list of about 300 consultants throughout the province I was uniquely placed to facilitate a lot more placements. I have since emailed appropriate information about the programme to all my consultant and related contacts with appropriate contact details for the course co-ordinators to see if we can get more of the learners into jobs as soon as their courses end. As an aside, on the morning of the presentation at Witfontein, there was a large plantation fire raging nearby. The students had just helped to organize breakfast for the Working on Fire crew. As a seriously vocally challenged person I was thoroughly impressed by the crew's impromptu renditions of what I was told were fire fighting songs while they waited to be transported back to fight the fire. Really stirring stuff! t the completion of each visit all of the departmental officials involved encouraged the YSP learners to grasp the opportunity that the Programme was offering them, actively seek jobs at the completion of the course and make the most of their newly acquired skills. At the end of the Kingswood Estate site visit I returned with the learners to Witfontein. After the farewell, as I emptied the sand of the golf estate out of my shoes I watched as the group ceremonially lowered the national flag outside the main office building, standing proudly with their hands clasped over their hearts. The Working on Fire crew. The Fire near Witfontein. 42 With a feeling of pride and faith in the future of conservation in our country I left George at about 16:30 on that Thursday evening, overnighting in a relatively inexpensive homely guesthouse in Barrydale. I left Barrydale the following morning at the crack of dawn, caught a mid-day plane to Durban and after a three-hour drive up through the Natal midlands, arrived at Cayley Lodge at the foot of the Central Drakensberg. That weekend I attended a workshop on Biodiversity and Environmental Impact Assessment and Monday through Wednesday the annual conference of the South African affiliate of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIAsa) at the Champagne Sports Resort that's another story. But there lies the stark contrast! On Thursday a lunch of tinned Vienna sausages and bread and jam with our underprivileged youth at Witfontein and on Friday evening, elegant dining at Cayley Lodge at the foot of the Cayley Lodge. Drakensberg. There I was in the company and style of the wealthiest of the wealthy, some of them not much older than those with whom I had lunch the day before. What a mixed range of emotions I felt sitting on my own at dinner that evening watching the quiet reserved guests in the dining room and listening to the less than reserved conversations emanating from the youngsters at the bar on the mezzanine above! Certainly the short time interval between the two meals focused my mind and emotions on the contrasts so evident in our society. I hope this account serves to remind you of the huge economic gaps and challenges in our country and encourages you all to go the extra mile to empower our youth and assist them in finding jobs even if you wouldn't read that directly in your formal job description. Would it be too much to hope that some of the YSP learners to whom I recently gave presentations will one day have the pleasure of dining at Cayley Lodge or attending a conference at Champagne Sports Resort, even it is just to attend a professional event at government expense rather than for a holiday at their own account? But then who knows in this amazing country of ours? IAIAsa Conference venue, Champagne Sports Resort 2004. AIAsa Conference, Champagne Sports Resort. Dennis Laidler, October 2004 43 Why it is Necessary to Remove Invasive Alien Trees This Department is often on the receiving end of complaints, particularly from northern hemisphere residents, about our government's policy of removing invasive alien trees. Their usual approach is to say that trees, indigenous or alien, help to maintain the global climatic balance and conserve water and that any policy that encourages the removal of trees must be crazy. I also have a friend of German origin who firmly believes this, irrespective of what I try to explain to him. I think this must be one of those elementary environmental 'facts' taught at all primary schools throughout Europe! I guess that many of you also have friends, family and acquaintances that question the logic behind the policy. I recently had to compile a letter responding to just such a complaint from an Austrian visitor so I thought I'd take the opportunity to publish the information in our newsletter to help you all explain the logic behind the policy if you are tackled, either officially or unofficially on the matter. very wet cold fronts that arise in the Southern Atlantic and sweep across our province regularly in winter. Those same fronts, fed by water evaporating from the surface of the sea, still sweep around the southern oceans in our summer but the whole westerly wind belt moves slightly southwards in summer so the fronts pass south of us. There is a desperate need for us to re-double our efforts to take control of invasive alien plants in our country. Independent experts have estimated that we shall lose the equivalent up to four Berg River (Skuifraam) dams worth of water yield if we do not gain control over these invaders. At close on R2 billion for the cheapest of the dams, it is a water impact that we cannot afford without even calculating the additional costs in terms of biological diversity, agricultural production, fires, soil erosion and much more. If the logic that trees increase rainfall holds, then there would be evidence that there was an increase of rainfall after the introduction of invasive alien plants in the Western Cape over the past centuries. There is no evidence of that, of course. Moreover, notwithstanding the efforts of the Working for Water programme and responsible land-owners, there are now more water-guzzling invasive alien plants in our province than when the programme began in 1995. Of course one has to start by conceding that there are examples of areas of the world where forest cover does have a significant influence on rainfall. These include, for example, the vast areas of tropical rain forest in central Africa and South America and perhaps, to a lesser extent, the extensive temperate forest areas of the Northern hemisphere landmasses. This is not the case for the Mediterranean-climate areas of the Western Cape however. Our rainfall is generated from large regional weather systems that develop over the southern oceans, and the cover of vegetation on land, in our case, does not influence the amount of rain we get. Those of you who live in our province are familiar with the 44 The commercial value of some indigenous species, should not be under estimated. These invasive alien plants are a major threat to our long-term water security, and unsubstantiated opinions to the contrary can weaken the resolve of people to deal with the issue timeously and effectively. It is the same for another major threat to our water security, namely that of climate change. This Department is often on the receiving end of complaints, particularly from northern hemisphere residents, about our government's policy of removing invasive alien trees. Their usual approach is to say that trees, indigenous or alien, help to maintain the global climatic balance and conserve water and that any policy that encourages the removal of trees must be crazy. I also have a friend of German origin who firmly believes this, irrespective of what I try to explain to him. I think this must be one of those elementary environmental 'facts' taught at all primary schools throughout Europe! I guess that many of you also have friends, family and acquaintances that question the logic behind the policy. I recently had to compile a letter responding to just such a complaint from an Austrian visitor so I thought I'd take the opportunity to publish the information in our newsletter to help you all explain the logic behind the policy if you are tackled, either officially or unofficially on the matter. There is a desperate need for us to re-double our efforts to take control of invasive alien plants in our country. Independent experts have estimated that we shall lose the equivalent up to four Berg River (Skuifraam) dams worth of water yield if we do not gain control over these invaders. At close on R2 billion for the cheapest of the dams, it is a water impact that we cannot afford without even calculating the additional costs in terms of biological diversity, agricultural production, fires, soil erosion and much more. If the logic that trees increase rainfall holds, then there would be evidence that there was an increase of rainfall after the introduction of invasive alien plants in the Western Cape over the past centuries. There is no evidence of that, of course. Moreover, notwithstanding the efforts of the Working for Water programme and responsible land-owners, there are now more water-guzzling invasive alien plants in our province than when the programme began in 1995. Of course one has to start by conceding that there are examples of areas of the world where forest cover does have a significant influence on rainfall. These include, for example, the vast areas of tropical rain forest in central Africa and South America and perhaps, to a lesser extent, the extensive temperate forest areas of the Northern hemisphere landmasses. This is not the case for the Mediterranean-climate areas of the Western Cape however. Our rainfall is generated from large regional weather systems that develop over the southern oceans, and the cover of vegetation on land, in our case, does not influence the amount of rain we get. Those of you who live in our province are familiar with the very wet cold fronts that arise in the Southern Atlantic and sweep across our province regularly in winter. Those same fronts, fed by water evaporating from the surface of the sea, still sweep around the southern oceans in our summer but the whole westerly wind belt moves slightly southwards in summer so the fronts pass south of us. Cultivating our indigeneous flora should certainly be harnassed to gain control of alien vegetation in sensitive areas. These invasive alien plants are a major threat to our long-term water security, and unsubstantiated opinions to the contrary can weaken the resolve of people to deal with the issue timeously and effectively. It is the same for another major threat to our water security, namely that of climate change. Our current drought has focussed attention on many aspects of water use and water saving. 45 Droughts are nothing new in Southern Africa, but the circumstances in which we find ourselves today are different in some ways to what they were in the past. In the first place, the population of Cape Town and its surrounds have grown tremendously in the past two decades, and the rate of growth continues to accelerate. There are therefore simply so many more people with whom we have to share our scarce water resource. Secondly, all indications are that the climate is changing. This is due largely to the burning of fossil fuels, predominantly to satisfy the disproportionate energy needs of the Northern hemisphere countries, resulting in a build-up of “greenhouse” gasses in the atmosphere. On average, the world's climate is now about 0.6ºC warmer that it has been since records began about 150 years ago. The predictions are that by the year 2050, the change will be in the order of 2 to 5ºC warmer. The western half of southern Africa, where we find ourselves, is predicted to get much drier as well, with a probable reduction of 5 - 10% in mean annual rainfall, and a 10% decrease in water runoff by the year 2015, due to the southward migration, even in our winter, of the Westerly wind belt that drives the oceanic frontal weather systems from which the Cape receives it rainfall. In the Cape we need to have a serious response to this situation, based on the best possible scientific understanding of the water cycle in our area. The responses should include the introduction of comprehensive water-savings measures, and the consideration of measures to decrease the risk of supply failure. We must clear invasive alien trees, and restore our catchment areas to a cover of indigenous fynbos. This is both a sensible and sustainable option. It has clearly been demonstrated by years of local scientific research in our catchments that these invasive alien trees reduce the summer streamflow from catchment areas, thus reducing flow into our dams, particularly during our summer - the dry part of our year. Indigenous Fynbos largely comprises plants with small sclerophyllous leaves (leaf cells having thick, hardened, water retentive cell walls) that dramatically slow down transpiration of water from the plants so they don't act as water pumps drying out the soil. The structure of Fynbos plants also blankets the soil allowing rainwater to penetrate the soil and be stored there. It's important to realise that most of the water we have stored in our catchments is stored in the soil and rocks of our mountains and not in our dams. The water in the soil seeps out slowly over time and mountain streams feed our dams, many of them continuing to flow, feeding our dams, right 46 20 through the dry summer season. Alien trees pump this water out of the soil so the streams dry up sooner than they would if the catchment was covered with Fynbos plants. Alien trees also constitute excessive fuel loads when compared to our natural Fynbos, so they significantly increase the intensity of veld fires. This bares our mountain slopes and soils significantly more than is the case after natural Fynbos fires and leads to severe erosion of our mountains, silting up our streams and dams. These intense fires also sterilise the soils, killing seeds and other propagules, that normally survive milder Fynbos fires, increasing the recovery time or even preventing the recovery of our natural waterconserving Fynbos. The intense fires also, of course, cause more damage to peoples property and even lives. Many of the alien trees, that currently blight our Western Cape ecosystems, were originally introduced to stabilize dynamic coastal dune systems. This disastrous and ill-considered measure led to the interruption of sand flow along our coasts and across headland by-pass dune systems, (like the Hout Bay system that used to feed Sandy Bay and is now covered with houses rather than alien trees), depriving many of our world-renowned beaches of sand. The subsequent invasion of the alien trees into the lowland and mountain Fynbos areas of the Cape has been devastating. Fynbos is a complex of extremely specially adapted communities of plants, many of which are totally unique, or endemic, to the Cape. They are especially adapted to the poor soils and harsh climate of our region. They recover rapidly from natural veld fires and rapidly restore the vegetation cover on our mountains thereby minimising erosion and extending stream-flow through our dry summer season. The Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants in the world. It represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa but is home to nearly 20% of the continent's flora. As you know from my article in the previous newsletter, at the United Nations World Heritage Committee annual meeting in China on 30 June, the Cape Floral Region (CFR) was inscribed on the list of Natural World Heritage Sites. The region was described as one of "outstanding universal significance to humanity", which, apart from its exceptional beauty, is one of the richest areas of plant species in the world. The site displays outstanding ecological and biological processes associated with the Fynbos vegetation, which is unique to the Cape Floral Region. The outstanding diversity, density and endemism of the flora are among the highest worldwide. Unique plant reproductive strategies, adaptive to fire, patterns of seed dispersal by insects, as well as patterns of endemism and adaptive radiation found in the flora are of outstanding value to science. The inscription of our natural heritage is a fantastic achievement for South Africa, with great significance for our role as global leaders in responsible tourism and sustainable environmental management. It underlines our responsibility to ensure the wise use of resources like the Cape Floral Regions and it places us in an excellent position to expand responsible tourism and generate much-needed employment. The heritage site is made up of eight protected areas, considered to be the most important protected examples of the Cape Floral Region (CFR). They are Table Mountain National Park (including the Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden), De Hoop Nature Reserve, the Boland mountain complex, the Groot Winterhoek wilderness area, the Swartberg mountains, Boosmansbos wilderness area, the Cederberg wilderness area and Baviaanskloof, which straddles the Western and Eastern Cape boundary. It is significant to note that the CFR World Heritage Site is a serial site. This means that as other areas within the CFR attain appropriate conservation management status, by for example removing invading alien tree populations, application can be made to have them added to the current areas representing the CFR Site. To allow our unique floristic heritage to be replaced by an invasion of a few species of alien tree species would be a great loss to South Africa and the World. I hope that the information I have provided here, helps you to better understand the reasons for the legislation government has introduced to control the spread of alien trees in our country and understand that the legislation is one of a suite of progressive measures that has recently put in place to manage our scarce water resources and conserve our unique natural flora. Dennis Laidler, Deputy Director: Biodiversity Management with acknowledgement to Brian van Wilgen of Environmentek, CSIR and Guy Preston of Working for Water for their inputs. Controlled veld fires are most often used to stimualte fynbos regrowth. Photos: courtesy of Cape Nature and Dennis Laidler 47 People and the environment to benefit from SoE Reporting Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (D:EA&DP) took up the challenge towards implementing sustainable development goals through State of the Environment Reporting (SoER). SoE reporting is motivated by sustainable development principles, and is a tool that can be used in the implementation and measurement of sustainable development goals. Not very condusive to the environment. more analytical work required for Phase Two towards the end of June 2005. This involves the development of a set of indicators that will track key environmental issues, and the production of the Western Cape SoER 2005 (Year One). Mainly, the objectives of the Western Cape SoER are to integrate environmental reporting and monitoring functions among most provincial departments. Also, to contribute towards the National Environmental Outlook Report and municipal SoER programmes for enhancing a variety of provincial planning and reporting initiatives, especially the Western Cape Provincial Spatial Development Framework (PSDF). The assessment of environmental information gathered by the Province will inform and guide provincial policy and management, providing an integrated approach to sustainable development for the Province. Good planning makes for a clean environment. The purpose of SoE reporting is to provide information about the condition of the environment, enabling us to understand and deal with environmental problems. SoE reporting provides a link between scientists or “knowledge generators” and decision-makers or information users. The Western Cape D:EA&DP is coordinating the provincial SoE initiative, while SRK Consulting has been appointed to manage the Year One Western Cape SoER. This is the first SoER being prepared for the Western Cape Province, although other municipal SoER's have been completed. The Western Cape SoER will guide the Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PGWC) to make informed decisions about our environment, and become pivotal to provincial strategic planning. Also, the report will provide the public with access to environmental information. The SoE report is being prepared in two phases. The first phase, Western Cape SoE Overview Report, was completed in June 2004, and contains bottom line information on the current state of the environment. Most importantly, it provides a framework or “launch pad” for the detailed and 48 20 The SoER ultimately will provide the benchmark for provincial SoE reporting to be scientifically done, and easily integrated into national and metropolitan SoE reporting programmes.
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