On the 20th May 2019 the Great Brak River Conservancy held its annual general meeting at the Searle Memorial Church hall. A well-attended event despite being a cold winter’s evening. The outgoing Committee gave feedback on how projects and membership has grown throughout the year and constructive input was received from the audience. I stepped down as chairman and ceremoniously got voted back into the very same position. A position that over the last year has allowed me the privilege of gaining a unique perspective of Great Brak River, some of its people and the uniqueness of the environment we share.
In the last year as chairman I have worked alongside private individuals, NPO’s, NGO’s, employees of municipality and state departments who do the best they can to achieve their mandate, often with limited budget and often even less thanks. From the outside it’s easy to point fingers, allocate blame or say enough isn’t being done but in my opinion it would be more beneficial if we didn’t view these individuals as simply salary earners occupying positions, but as people. People who actually share the same passion as us. Surely more can be achieved through developing these relationships than by fighting them?
Great Brak River has a rich diversity of fauna and flora which we are losing. This is not a unique position we find ourselves in as we are living within and perpetuating the largest mass extinction of species since the dinosaurs. The green areas that form habitat for these indigenous species are filled with plastic and glass and are shrinking by the day. Feral populations of cats, rabbits and mallard ducks seem to have more protection within the environment than the species indigenous to them. Rare vegetation types are being lost because the systems put in place to protect them only concentrate on individual rare species and not diversity. Our river system and its biodiversity is being held hostage whilst we ignore the consequences of global warming. If science predicts warmer temperatures and even less rainfall in the future why are we killing off a river system when we have an unused desalination plant in Mosselbay that could be alleviating some of the pressure?
But not all is doom and gloom. Arguably Great Brak River’s biggest resource in the preservation of our national heritage for further generations is its People. Through dialogue, awareness and the sharing of knowledge we don’t only improve our own relationships with each other but our relationship with the environment. The gaps that are currently found in things like waste management or the management of alien invasive species are clearly evident. But these gaps are more likely to be filled by collective social responsibility and the sharing of ideas than through negativity.
As we find ourselves living in a society where it is easier to allocate blame than it is to shoulder responsibility, I urge you not to take the easy route, be a part of the solution not part of the problem.