LAUNCH OF THE “OVERBERG AWARENESS PROGRAMME – SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND LIVING” ON SATURDAY 17 DECEMBER 2011
The above Project, funded by the national Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), was officially launched on 17 December at an outdoor function held at Piet se Bos, an endangered but protected milkwood forest near the Grotto Blue Flag Beach in Hermanus, Western Cape.
1. Nature of the Launch
A decision was made to launch the Project at a fun event for children, which would appeal to holiday makers and bring a good crowd of children, parents and grandparents. Although the content of the launch was simple and aimed at the younger generation, the message was very clear to all ages – protection of the environment by reducing our own footprint on the earth. It is the experience of WCC with our work in 28 schools on our Eco-Schools Programme, that change in thinking about the environment and our own responsibilities in living more sustainably has most impact at the school level, with children in turn influencing the thinking of their parents.
The Project was therefore launched at the occasion of a “Fairy Forest and Picnic”, with the main theme “a story of sustainability”, which brought a large number of people to the launch and captured the imagination of young and old.
2. Description of the Launch Event
The official launch of this project took place on 17 December 2011 in Hermanus, Western Cape Province. The event was organised by WCC and supported by the Cliff Path Management Group and the Fernkloof Nature Reserve Management.
The launch took the form of a picnic in a picnic area administered by the Overstrand Municipality, adjacent to a conservation area sustaining a milkwood forest named “Piet-se-Bos”, which has both ecological and historical significance and has been under threat by private developers and home owners. The locality provided opportunities to draw attention to sustainability issues for both adults and children.
Approximately 150 people attended the event, with a large number of children and young adults included.
The Executive Mayor of the Overstrand Municipality officially launched the project and welcomed it as a significant contribution to conservation of the environment by encouraging sustainable living. She expressed special satisfaction at the involvement of younger people, as positive attitudes to a sustainable lifestyle are formed at an early stage in life.
Dr Anina Lee, Chairperson of Whale Coast Conservation, officially launched the Sustainability Awareness Project by outlining the aims of the project, for which generous funding had been received from the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund. While the Project had an identity and a budget of its own, it fitted well into the other activities of the WCC and had special links with their Eco-Schools Project.
Dr Lee also introduced the highlight of the event, namely an adventure set in the milkwood forest. Attention was focussed on the role of milkwood forests in nature and the need to conserve them. Children and parents participated in a journey of exploration into candle-lit areas of the forest, in search of the fairies that helped to protect the forest.
While the event was generally successful, it highlighted ways in which WCC could more effectively organise awareness events in the future. Most important among these was the need to bring professional event-organising experience to events of this size. A schedule of issues needing attention in future was prepared for consideration of the WCC and project staff early in 2012.
Thanks go to the following: firstly, the staff of WCC; Grant Forbes (Fernkloof Nature Reserve Manager); Harvey Tyson (Cliff Path Management Group); Lauren Rainbird (Overstrand Municipality); Mary-Jane Hooper (for the fairies) and spouses and friends who assisted wherever and whenever it was needed. Special mention needs to be made of the contribution of Rob Fryer (Manager, WCC) who carried out much of the preparatory work but was unfortunately injured while setting up the exhibits and had to be treated in hospital, missing the event itself.