Another aspect of wildlife protection is that we have a great challenge to reach as many rural children in our area with the message that wildlife and it’s habitat is their natural heritage, and should be protected, cared for and held in trust for present and future generations.
Why is Environmental Education Important?
Suni-Ridge Sand Forest Park Environmental Rehabilitation Centre is situated in the environs of the World Natural Heritage Park Isimangaliso Wetland Park in False Bay. Together with the rural community in the Northern Eastern catchment of Lake St. Lucia, we share a common boundary with this World Heritage Site.
Unlike children in developed areas who need to re-plant trees, in our area there are still beautiful trees growing and there is a wonderful river that is relatively undisturbed where it flows through the rural area. These natural resources must be protected.
We have therefore identified an urgent need to work with the rural communities, and to initiate action towards sustainable living through environmental education. We share our knowledge of the importance of protecting the biodiversity and the sustainable use of the catchments of the World Natural Heritage Site, False Bay Park (also see Water Catchment Forum).
Knowledge, and appreciation of natural resources, holds the key to protecting wildlife and conservation. It’s a team effort that needs everyone’s involvement. If we do not bring environmental education to our youth, who are our leaders of tomorrow, the future of wildlife and conservation could be very bleak.
- Eco Tourism is an important revenue earner in the region as it helps to alleviate poverty, but its sustainability will depend on a healthy environment.
- Teaching the youth about home food gardens is also critically important as many homes are not food secure. Good nutrition is also very important in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
- By bringing the understanding to the children of our region that the wealth of our natural environment will benefit them and that it’s future management will be their responsibility.
In KwaZulu Natal there are still vast areas with a high biodiversity, which rural people use within their tribal communities to gather food and medicinal plants. However, rapid development due to population growth, means that there is a steadily growing impact on these resources. For example:
- Trees that are sometimes hundreds of years old, are being felled for fuel and to make way for fields
- Sanitation often needs attention
- Water is scarce due to the water catchment management challenges
- Wildlife is poached for food, the bush meat trade and/or territory conflicts
By supporting our ECO-AMBASSADOR Campaign, you are encouraging the leaders of tomorrow to protect their natural and cultural heritage.
What is the Young Environmental Ambassador Leadership Course?
The course we provide offers an understanding of biodiversity protection, water and sanitation management, animal husbandry and leadership skills to teenagers who have been identified as leaders within their local communities. The knowledge they gain is passed on to their peers and absorbed within the community. View the full course program.
By furthering the learner’s awareness of the environment, the Young Environmental Ambassador’s project equips these children to become environmental leaders in their schools and community.
They are encouraged to reach outwards to initiate environmental projects not only with their own peers at school, but also in their surrounding community where they transfer to others, the knowledge and skills that they have learnt during their life changing experience at Suni-Ridge.
- It is a significant environmental outreach project that is designed to reach hundreds of children in more than 40 schools in the initial stage. It has a continuity and expansion component built into the programme.
- We envisage that every child participating in the course will reach out to at least another 50 children and many community members.
- In this way the Young Environmental Ambassador project will expand it’s effectiveness through an ongoing community outreach and many lives will be touched and uplifted, by this awareness.
The outreach is as follows:
|Every Young Ambassador would recruit 5 environmental assistants||
(1 x 5)
|Each new b level environmental outreach assistant would recruit 3 new c level assistants||
(5b x 3)
|Each c level assistant would recruit 2 d level assistants||
(15c x 2)
(5b + 15c + 30d)
|Total per participant recruits incorporated:||
(50 + 1)
50 x 20 (2 groups of 10 per month) = 1000 persons per month x 12 months = 12 000 persons (or more) reached in the year.
In other words, 12 000 persons growing their own home organic gardens and becoming aware about environmental protection.
Each participant receives:
- A starter pack of seeds
- Instructions to build organic eco circle gardens (in Zulu)
- Information about why fresh healthy organic food is important for the management of HIV/AIDS (in Zulu)
- Instructions about preserving trees and plants and protecting wildlife and birds (in Zulu)
- Information about water protection and sanitation information and contact no’s where help with sanitation may be found (in Zulu)
- A certificate to say that they are participating in the program
We receive from each participant:
A signed copy of a document to illustrate their contact particulars, where they live in the tribal area and their signature agreeing to enter the project at their homes.
To keep the project moving, these aspects are necessary:
- A big community get together – arranged every 6 months, displaying produce and crafts, inviting guests from all sectors, awarding recognition badges and T-shirts
- Approval for the project by Inkosis’ (local community)
- If the project is very successful, we can establish an outlet where they can sell their surplus produce. Local lodges and guest houses will be encouraged to buy produce
- Every month we will circulate a newletter to the community / participants (in Zulu)
Your financial support will enable a young leader to attend this course. The cost covers the 5-day course, as well as follow-up visits to the learners at their school and to maintain ongoing communication.
The 5-day course is located in the Suni-Ridge Wildlife Reserve (view the whole program) and costs R3 000 per student.
The most important thing is to increase awareness of and encourage organic gardening, as well as the protection of wildlife, trees and biodiversity in the rural area.
How do you sponsor an Eco-Ambassador?
We need your assistance to educate and inspire these young leaders to encourage sustainable living practices in their communities. You can sponsor an ambassador by donating R 3,000.00 per student.
Payments can be made by credit card (through Paypal) or by making a direct bank transfer. Please refer to our How you can help / donate page for futher details. Your kind support is very much appreciated!