Community Impact

Over the years, NVT successfully completed several social-environmental community impact and awareness projects to engage and empower local communities, two of which are situated right next door: Kurland and Covie.

We partner with local communities in terms of environmental awareness initiatives, community clean-up events, and community re-greening projects. By resourcing, assisting, and educating local communities, we put conservation issues at the forefront of sustainable community development, which is where it should be. Many of these initiatives are ongoing and are showing signs of sustainability.

These community impact and awareness projects implemented by NVT facilitate active participation and demonstrate the commitment to engaging and empowering local communities in conservation efforts. By promoting environmental education, fostering sustainable practices, and raising awareness, the NVT contributes to building a more environmentally conscious and actively involved community dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural heritage of the region.

Community Workshops and Seminars

Nature’s Valley Trust organizes community workshops and public talks on various environmental topics. These events bring together community members, experts, and guest speakers to share knowledge, discuss conservation challenges, and inspire action. By providing a platform for learning and dialogue, these initiatives empower individuals to become more informed and active participants in environmental conservation.

Workshops cover an array of different topics, ranging from identifying fynbos and alien invasive species, and how to handle marine animal strandings, as well as fundraising. Seminars include talks on the Geology of Nature’s Valley, The Cyclical Collective, Baboons of Nature’s Valley and more.

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security

Nature’s Valley Trust works with local communities to promote sustainable agriculture practices and enhance food security. Projects include establishing community gardens, providing training on composting and organic farming techniques, and supporting the cultivation of indigenous and nutritious crops. These initiatives contribute to local food production, reduce dependence on external resources, and promote sustainable livelihoods.

Kurland

The Tsitsi-Tuiniers Gardening Club is a community-based initiative established in December 2014 to promote food production and food security in the neighbouring Kurland community. This community, bordering on the Garden Route section of the Tsitsikamma National Park, is a crucial stakeholder in the management of the natural resources within the National Park.

Given the prevailing economic climate in South Africa, most members of this community are subjected to high levels of poverty due to a lack of employment opportunities. The Tsitsi-Tuiniers Gardening Club was initiated by the NVT as a platform to share these gardeners’ indigenous knowledge and, in collaboration with the NVT, to present year-round workshops on how horticultural knowledge can promote self-sufficiency (i.e. food security) and help to alleviate the socio-economic problems that persist within the Kurland community.

As much as the NVT seeks to enable communities to be proactive in attempts to better their economic status, it is best if formal, operating structures are created that can be held accountable for the responsible management and sharing of resources and driving proactive campaigns to improve the economic status of community members. Furthermore, formal structures that collaborate with different stakeholders from outside the community towards realising a common goal can, potentially, result in cross-pollination of information pertaining to agriculture, thereby broadening the knowledge base overall.

Where once it was led by external drivers, the Tsitsi-Tuiniers Gardening Club has subsequently evolved into a self-sufficient organisation run and managed by its members. Through the years, the NVT has also shifted its role from managing the club to now only offering administrative assistance to the club when needed. Currently, the club has twenty-five active members, each with their own backyard garden that supports three to five other families in the spirit of Ubuntu, meaning “I am because you are”.

Covie

The Covie Fishing Club was launched to promote sustainable fishing in less-fortunate communities that have to rely on marine life for sustenance.

Members of this club focus on entrenching the principles of responsible and sustainable fishing in the younger generation by reaching out to learners in the Crags and Coldstream area in particular and by focusing on fishermen who frequent the area. In the process, knowledge of fishing techniques, handling fish safely out of the water and discarding fishing tackle in a responsible manner is shared while learning how to distinguish between various fish species and the role those species play in the ecosystem.

Ecotourism Development

Nature’s Valley Trust supports the development of responsible and sustainable ecotourism initiatives in the area. By working with local partners and community members, the Trust has helped to create opportunities for income generation through eco-friendly tourism activities. This approach promotes the conservation of natural resources while providing economic benefits to the local community.

Covie Hiking Trail

Covie is a small village situated on a hilltop above Nature’s Valley, bordering the national park. A highly enjoyable and most informative trail runs from the centre of the village along the scenic cliff tops overlooking the marine protected area through lush fynbos down to the coast and right up to a well-known indigenous picnic site where wildlife abounds.

This trail is favoured by hikers, trail runners, birders and amateur botanists alike and was established with the intention to safeguard the fynbos against development that could impact the near pristine conditions of the Covie village and its natural surroundings. Given that Covie is quite a distance from the main town, Plettenberg Bay, job opportunities are scarce and unemployment rates are high. This trail, therefore, acts as a source of income for the community and has been the subject of many scientific studies aimed at motivating why the fynbos in this area must be protected at all costs.

Phot0 credit: Jez Harrington-Hayes

Holiday Programme

During peak holiday seasons (April and December), the Nature’s Valley Trust arranges a holiday programme to incorporate activities and presentations which are interesting, relevant, and informative, aimed at both adults and children visiting Nature’s Valley. During the December holiday NVT hosts, amongst other events, the Triathlon as a fun event for the whole family that also builds immense community spirit and cohesion.

Clean-up Initiatives

NVT organizes regular community clean-up events to raise awareness about waste management and the importance of keeping the environment clean. These initiatives bring community members together to collect litter from local beaches, rivers, and public areas, highlighting the need for responsible waste disposal and promoting a cleaner and healthier environment.

Example: In support of International Coastal Cleanup Day, the NVT and its partners (Plastics SA; Tsitsi-Tuiniers; Bitou Municipality; Orca Foundation; Willing Workers in South Africa; Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre; Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment; Lunchbox Theatre; Renew Able Plett; Keep Plett Clean; Western Cape Government; Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency) host a clean-up event in Kurland Village and Plettenberg Bay to help collect trash along our coastline. Since its inception in 2009, no fewer than 100 participants have shown up time and time again to offer their support – a clear indication that the community supports this drive to keep our shorelines, estuaries and waterways free of debris.

Greening

The NVT, along with its partners (the Tsitsi-Tuiniers, Bitou Municipality, Orca Foundation, Willing Workers in South Africa, Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment) has over the years implemented an annual greening project in Kurland Village. Over time, this ongoing project aims to establish a park for the community, and hitherto more than1 200 trees (indigenous and fruit-bearing) have been planted in this village alone.

In all instances, greening projects are preceded by a workshop facilitated by the NVT in partnership with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment to educate members of the community and learners on how best to plant and care for trees. Undoubtedly, these tree-planting events are one of the highlights of the NVT’s annual greening and community engagement calendar.

Future projects

(Targeted interventions in local communities (Kurland and Covie)

  • Behavioural change communication
    • Develop targeted behavioural change communication strategies tailored to the local community’s cultural and social context. Use storytelling, local language, and culturally relevant messaging to convey the importance of conservation and inspire action. These interventions can be delivered through community gatherings, social media platforms, media and radio broadcasts, or community-based organizations.
  • Capacity building and skill development: Community workshops and training sessions
    • Offer capacity-building programmes and skill development opportunities within local communities. This can include Organising workshops and training sessions in local communities to provide education and practical skills related to conservation, sustainable livelihoods, eco-tourism, natural resource management, etc. By enhancing skills and creating economic opportunities aligned with conservation principles, these interventions can foster a change in behaviour by demonstrating the benefits of sustainable practices.
  • Outreach and awareness campaigns
    • Targeted outreach and awareness campaigns to engage local communities in conservation efforts. These campaigns can include distributing educational materials, organizing community events, and leveraging local media platforms to disseminate information about conservation issues, their local impacts, and actionable steps individuals can take to contribute to conservation.
  • Pilot initiatives
    • Implement pilot initiatives within local communities to showcase sustainable practices and their benefits. For example, setting up a recycling programme. These tangible examples can inspire behavioural change and encourage community members to adopt similar practices in their own lives.
  • Community-led conservation projects
    • Support and facilitate community-led conservation projects that align with local needs and priorities. These projects can range from habitat restoration and reforestation initiatives to community-based wildlife monitoring programmes. By involving communities directly in conservation activities, these interventions encourage a sense of stewardship and responsibility towards local ecosystems.
      • Incentive programmes
        • Develop incentive programmes that reward and recognize individuals or communities for their conservation efforts. This can include incentives such as recognition certificates, or grants for community-led conservation projects. By providing incentives, these interventions can motivate individuals to actively participate in conservation activities and sustain their behavioural changes over time.
      • Traditional ecological knowledge
        • Recognition of the value of traditional knowledge held by local communities. Provide platforms for community members to share their knowledge and experiences related to conservation practices and their cultural significance. By integrating traditional ecological knowledge with scientific understanding, these interventions can promote culturally appropriate and sustainable conservation strategies.
      • Monitoring and evaluation
        • Establish mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the impact of interventions on behaviour change within local communities. Collect data on key indicators, such as the adoption of sustainable practices, changes in attitudes and knowledge, and participation in conservation activities. This information can guide future interventions, identify successful approaches, and ensure ongoing improvement in conservation efforts at the community level.