WESSA Annual Review 2022
WESSA 2022 Annual Review
CONTENTS CHAIRMANS REPORT................................................ CEO REPORT............................................................. FINANCIAL REVIEW.................................................. WESSA YOUTH........................................................... WESSA SCHOOLS PROGRAMME............................. WESSA EDUCATION CENTRES.................................. BLUE FLAG PROGRAMME........................................ TBF 2 PROGRAMME.................................................. WESSA GROEN SEBENZA.......................................... MEMBERSHIP............................................................ 2022 PARTNERS.........................................................
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OUR CENTENARY YEAR IS FAST APPROACHING
WESSA has come a long way. In four years, we will be one hundred years. That is a significant achievement that we will appropriately celebrate at the right time. Our founders would be pleased to know that WESSA has stayed the course and continues to perform splendidly against the main environmental concerns of the time (e.g. conservation).
WESSA has stayed the course and continues to perform splendidly against the main environmental concerns of the time
They will however be concerned that the environmental crises that we face today have become significantly complex and more threatening and even deadly. More worryingly, the environmental challenges that we face are the direct result of the way in which humans live on this planet. Realising this, among many environmental management choices, WESSA deliberately chose to work towards meaningful and sustainable capacity-building solutions . These solutions include our flagship and award winning schools programme and volunteer initiatives which we will showcase later. It is disheartening to see the environmental crisis worsening despite our and fraternal organisations’ efforts. For this reason and to ensure that WESSA continues to be relevant post its centenary year and to double our efforts to effectively address the environmental challenges that we face, we have completed the review of our strategy. As will be mentioned below, to ensure that our strategy is not wide-ranging but rather focussed, we have selected the focus areas which we believe are among the most pressing environmental challenges.
WESSA started out as nature conservation and over the years, WESSA has played an enormously important role in biodiversity conservation in South Africa. As the environmental challenges were rising and getting increasingly complex, WESSA kept true to the theme of constant improvement, continuous innovation, and deepening impact. In more recent times, our adaptability and quest to deepen our impact has manifested itself through our recently approved strategy. We spent a few months this year sharpening our strategy. The making of this strategy was very inclusive and exhaustive. We have now reached the implementation phase, but it is worth mentioning the salient features of our strategy. Flowing from research, consultation, and debates, our strategy is founded on three thematic areas, namely:
Climate action Biodiversity and habitat integrity Pollution reduction
meaningful and sustainable capacity-building
Education and training, advocacy, and action will drive our strategy. Governance, people, and financial resources will make or break our strategy. To avoid failing, we will increase our communication and collaboration with volunteers and members. During the year, we reported on various leadership changes that we have undergone. The notable changes were those of Andrew Baxter who resigned as the CEO but agreed to join us as a non-executive director. His co-option and election to the board stands to be approved by the AGM. Helena Atkinson stepped down as the non-executive director and has taken up the LEADERSHIP CHANGES
position of CEO on a 5-year contract. We look forward to your executive leadership Helena. The changes that have occurred and the leadership transition went smoothly because of the maturing nature of our governance structure. We are working towards succession planning both at the management and board levels. We currently have a few vacancies on the Board but wanted to first adopt our strategy to such an extent that the size and shape of the board supports our strategic direction. To this end, we will be coming back to members with nomination requests. Wandisile Mandlana
CEO REPORT A A few years ago, I was lucky enough to see the award-winning play Hamilton on Broadway. The musical tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Written and composed by Lin-Manual Miranda, it is a story that speaks about leaving a legacy and what we want it to be for our future generations and what we are willing to do to make that possible. There is a particularly poignant lyric in the musical that resonated with me: But remember from here on in, history has its eyes on you.
It is a reminder of the responsibilities we have towards future generations and how we will be viewed by them.
This is of relevance to WESSA right now as we move towards our centenary celebration in 4 years’ time. That puts us in a unique position, we have the history to show that we are resilient and have played a significant role in the conservation world for the last 96 years and we have more resolve than ever to continue being a leader in solving the environmental issues we face. But to do that we needed to restructure and review our work focus. The strategic plan also brings together the various aspects of WESSA’s operations and aims to make a significant impact on the environment. We now have a new strategy that we have adopted and started implementing. At the heart of this strategy is the overarching theme of citizen action and advocacy as the way we want to get to the planet we want and need. We are doing this by Educating, Advocating and Acting. We get members of the public, both adults, youth, and children to have the platform and the tools to take part in solving environmental issues that they care about and that has an impact on them. WESSA is in a unique position to be a leader in creating environmental advocacy awareness and will, both of which are the precursors to action for the environment. We must significantly reduce and ultimately reverse the impact of the climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution crises we are facing. GROUP PERFORMANCE We knew 2022 would be challenging, but we know that by working together with all stakeholders, we would continue to do good work for the environment. During the last year we have recovered from the impact of COVID to some extent and we have seen the return of schools to our education centers that were re-opened We have performed better than last year with our project book growing which was to be expected after the end of the Covid pandemic. During 2022 financial year our performance has improved. We have increased our project book. We had a strong focus on streamlining financial procedures, cleaning up historical accounts and mitigating risks going forward. We are becoming less reactive and more proactive and will continue to focus on this in the next financial year.
factors that influence our sector and the environment that we operate in. The roles and responsibilities of various non-profit organizations need to change radically in order to meet the increasing demand for their services. As the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity continue to intensify, the work of these organizations is becoming more urgent. Various external factors are affecting the work and mission of conservation organizations. These include the increasing role of the private sector, the increase of urbanisation, lack of basic services available to people and the rise of transnational crime linked to wildlife and other natural products. Internal factors such as differences between generations and competition for funding are also contributing to the challenges faced by the sector. To ensure that their work is still relevant and effective, conservation organizations need to find new ways to carry out their missions. In the case of WESSA we have done this through the strategic review process we have just completed. As part of this process we are also looking at all the WESSA properties and the education centres and the viability of the business model of each of these. FUNDING AND INVESTMENTS We work in a sector where we compete for funding with other organisations. We do well in getting project funding for some of our existing programmes and will continue to do so. Going forward though we want to raise funds through awareness campaigns and getting supporters to come on a journey with us and become part of our active citizen campaigns and garner more support for us along the way. This is support in both volunteer hours and financial. We are going to be investing into formalized fundraising and to leverage the recognition and value that we know still comes with the WESSA brand. We want to build a strong cash reserve through an endowment fund. To do this, we are working on a strategy for fundraising. We are busy developing an investment policy that will guide our investment decisions. We are thankful to our funders, donors and supporters who helped us facilitate our progress and achievements. We know there are still challenges ahead but thanks to all the work put into our strategy and engagement with stakeholders we know that WESSA is on the right track. We are also very proud of the WESSA staff that have shown great resilience and
We also must be mindful and aware of the external
Educating, Advocating and Acting
commitment over during the last few years. They are also excellent project implementers, and this will remain a focus for us at WESSA. I would also like to acknowledge and recognise the volunteer arm of the organisation for the work they do on the ground across the country. The number of hectares cleared from alien vegetation, plastic removed from our beaches, species protected, youth and members of the public mobilised and input into advocacy work, is significant and impactful. I would like to recognise the support of the WESSA Board. The Board provided stability during a difficult time and continue to give their time, expertise and advise and have played a crucial role in our new Strategy being developed and now implemented. Lastly, I would like to recognise the WESSA Executive Committee for their excellent work and leadership and then also Dr Andrew Baxter, especially for the work done on the development of the new WESSA Strategy and the fundraising framework we will now be following. We are also very grateful that he has agreed to be a member of the WESSA Board as a non-executive Director. STRATEGIC PROGRESS After the completion and adoption of the Strategy and acceptance of it by the Board, a Membership Working Group was also established to guide the operational structure and format of the volunteer part of WESSA. The composition of the Working Group includes all representative of all regions and include volunteers and staff. We will look at the volunteer structures, organizational support for volunteers, fundraising and governance and more importantly for opportunities for membership and full-time staff to work together more. To facilitate this process the ad hoc Board Strategic Working Group Committee work will continue with the focus area of WESSA volunteers under this Working Group. The objective is to evaluate and define specific aspects of the WESSA volunteer base. This includes the role of volunteers in citizen action, defining the future forms of being a WESSA volunteer, the communication between all stakeholders in the organisation and the opportunities to attract a younger audience and supporter base. Specific focus will also include a review of the governance and financial sustainability of the volunteer work. LOOKING AHEAD We will develop an effective communication and marketing strategy to amplify the work and the success of WESSA so that, in turn, we can begin to develop a coherent fundraising and resource mobilisation plan. Ultimately, we seek to diversify the revenue streams of WESSA. Our efforts as an organisation will continue to be put into environmental capacity building of regular citizens, both adults, young people and the school kids we work with. We also know that we want to work closer and more with the private sector and we know we can support and guide them on a sustainability journey.
We want to grow WESSA’s status as a leading, trusted voice on environmental issues. WESSA will be a thought leader, champion, expert, and a leading voice for the kind of environment we want to see and live in. We want to be involved in critical areas where we can deliver measurable outcomes and solving environmental problems backed up with a fundraising strategy and people actively taking part in implementing the solutions. Our advocacy efforts will allow our organisation to have impact through both re-active and pro-active advocacy efforts carried out by staff and volunteers alike. In other words – we will do advocacy and teach advocacy. Regular citizens in this regard refer to the general public (active citizens) as well as those involved in our programmes and projects (generally the youth). Advocacy as a practice, will be imbedded into all the work that WESSA does. Our advocacy work will however be firm but restrained and properly aligned to information rather than emotional opinion. We also want to work with government where it makes sense and campaign to influence policy where appropriate. Education and awareness raising, development of decision support tools, coordinated collective action, and demonstrating and implementing place-based solutions will achieve this. WESSA offers ways of resolving complex problems, not just critique. popularity and instant gratification has become the norm whilst we are facing bigger challenges than ever, there is a real need for an organisation like WESSA to remain focussed on long-term sustained efforts to protect our environment. We have done so for nearly 100 years and more recently we have been able to say we will be able to do it for another 100 years. We took stock, we adapted but we also refocused on what we are good at – working with civil society and creating a wave of action that has significant impact on the challenges we face. This strategic plan will act as the roadmap to guide us, and to lead us to continued success by using our strong suits; the power of education, advocacy and action. This strategic plan brings together our history but also our current strengths. We will make a significant impact on the climate realities we face, protecting biodiversity and associated habitats and by reducing pollution. We are WESSA – people caring for the Earth. Despite the increasing number of factors that have negatively affected the work of conservation organizations, there is a bigger need than ever for us to remain focused on our core mission. This is because, in a world where instant gratification and limited popularity have become the norm, it is very important that organizations like WESSA continue to carry out their work in a long-term manner. We will educate, advocate and act with the support of active citizens because we are people caring for the earth. Helena Atkinson APPRECIATION AND CONCLUSION In a world where so many things have limited
FINANCIAL REVIEW A The 2022 financial year has been quite an interesting and exciting one for WESSA with the organization undergoing a strategic review. A new strategy was approved in July 2022. The Audit, Risk, and Assurance Committee is an independent oversight of financial and governance issues facing WESSA. The guidance we are receiving from this committee is very valuable and highly appreciated. Management has a strong focus on ensuring sound governance throughout the organisation. The Senior Financial Manager and CEO are working closely together to identify financial risks and implement sound financial and procedural controls. An ample surplus of R923 534 is reported for the 2022 financial year which has improved significantly from the previous financial year’s deficit of R2 594 561. The previous year’s deficit was unfortunate and emanated in large part from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the main contributor to this surplus is the revaluation of investments to fair value of R2.7m. Total income decreased by 5% yearly from R32.4 million to R30.7 million. This is mainly due to the significant decrease in donations which was R12.7 million in the previous year (due to a very generous donation of R10.2 million from the Mrs. Van Wyk estate) whereas donations income was R953 434 in the 2022 financial year. However, if the income is considered without donations, then there was an increase in income. Total expenditure of R33 million has increased by 12% from the spending in the previous financial year of R29 million.
GROUP GENERAL FUNDS STATEMENT OF SURPLUS OR DEFICIT AND OTHER COMPREHENSIVE INCOME for the year ended 31 March 2022
30 705 718 (33 026 426) (2 320 708)
32 366 888 (29 373 234) 2 993 654 (3 697 431)
Expenditure (Deficit)/Surplus before impairment
Impairment refersal/(expense): Related to party loan
Deficit before tax
(1 844 275)
(1 844 275) 2 767 809 2 767 809
Deficit for the year
Other comprehensive income/(loss) Revaluation/(devaluation) of investments to fair value General funds surplus/(deficit) and other comprehensive income/(loss) for the year
(1 866 762) (1 866 762)
(2 570 539)
Total general funds and specific funds surplus/(deficit) and other comprehensive income/(loss) for the year
(2 570 539)
SOURCES OF INCOME The comparison of year-on-year sources of income is illustrated above. There has been an increase in self-generated income due to the gradual easing up of the lockdown restrictions and the restrictions subsequently falling away completely. Donations income declined significantly, this is due to the unexpected donation of R10.2m which was received in the 2021 financial year. There was an increase in income from SA Government due to the redirection of funds on our Groen Sebenza project funded by Department of Forestry and Fisheries and an increase in beach registration fees.
2021 25% 2022 39% 2021 5% 2022 7% 2021 12% 2022 19% 2021 2% 2022 10% 2021 3% 2022 6%
Foreign Independent Donors
Self-Funded Sales- Corporates Self-Funded Sales-Education Centres
Private Individuals (Members)
2021 2021 2022 2022 2021 2022
39% 2% 5% 5% 12% 9%
continue operations. To do so, it is important for WESSA to establish a viable operating reserve to maintain sufficient cash reserves and financial flexibility to continue operations. The new Fundraising and Investment Board committee has met, this committee and the Fundraising/Business Development Manager that will be appointed early in 2023 will be crucial to improving cash flow.
Project sales for the 2021/22 financial year increased by 38% in comparison to the previous year. The previous year was indicative of the impact of the COVID19 pandemic. In the financial year under review there has been an increase in due to continuation of operations and extensions of already existing projects.
Project funding fluctuates regularly, and it is imperative that WESSA has enough reserves to
R 97 M
R 83 M
R 84 M
R 77 M
R 76 M
R 61 M
R 47 M
R 34 M
WESSA’S 10 MOST FINANCIALLY SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS IMPLEMENTED DURING THE FY 2021/22
DEA NRM Groen Sebenza
MrP - 20 Schools in Qwa Qwa
WESSA’S 10 MOST SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS IMPLEMENTED DURING THE FY 2021/22
DEA NRM Training & Capacity Development
WWF Journalism Training
Tourism Blue Flag Project 2
NYRI Youth Ambassador Network
from project funding which fluctuates regularly, and it is imperative that WESSA has enough reserves to continue operations. To do so, it is important for WESSA to establish a viable operating reserve to maintain sufficient cash reserves and financial flexibility to continue operations. The Fundraising and Investment Committee has been constituted, and together with the imminent appointment of a Fundraising Manager early in 2023, we expect to see a radical improvement in our cash flow.
Although the comprehensive deficit for the year amounts is more than the prior year, operationally there was an improvement. The increase in deficit is mainly attributable to the increase in bad debts, decrease in income in comparison to prior year (due to high donations income) and a provision for a water bill charged to Umgeni Valley which is currently being disputed.
WESSA has a high reliance on income derived
A WESSA YOUTH
A dynamic, diverse, and inclusive youth strategy promotes rights-based conservation and centers the importance on building and nurturing youth and community capital as a cornerstone for successful, sustainable protection and management of our natural assets and treasures. Long-lasting conservation legacies will be achieved by legends who live, lead, and influence modern-day mindsets cognizant of indigenous treasures, community stewardship models, and equity.
The WESSA YES Programme’s youth development and skills training projects placed over 540 previously unemployed youth in year-long hosted learnerships at game reserves, environmental companies and NGOs, recyclers, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and the environmental, parks, and waste management sections of municipalities. 93 participants have gone onto long-term employment, returned to tertiary study, or started their own small businesses after completing their learnership.
Our organisational investment into young South Africans, has four, often integrated, focal points. Weaved throughout our work are both accredited and short skills courses. Accreditation is with the LG SETA, ETDP SETA, CathSETA, and Services SETA.
ENVIRONMENTAL & CONSERVATION PROFESSIONALS
Performance, transformation, and influence in the professional world to redirect agendas for stronger inclusive and rights-based conservation, to be feet on the ground in shaping policy, and to be fair managers of our most valued assets are achieved through WESSA’s youth internships, work-based placements, and professional training. WESSA has been involved in the Department of Forestry Fisheries & Environment’s Groen Sebenza Internship Programme since its inception in 2013 as both a host and implementing organisation overseeing the growth and development of hundreds of young professionals in the Green Economy. This past year we have implemented the national project with over 190 new intakes and have had 45 successful early exits into full-time employment or further studies. Next year we will host 30 interns across all of WESSA and this will be managed internally by Mawande Mbola, a permanent staff member of the Schools & Youth unit who was himself an intern at WESSA many years ago on the first-ever Groen Sebenza.
RESILIENCE AND LEADERSHIP
Building and nurturing that ineffable quality to bounce back and build a legacy is what centers our work. By identifying and recognising young people’s innate qualities, WESSA seeks to build these as core competencies, and guide a personalised and supported path for our legends to lead.
The Department of Women Youth and Persons with Disabilities commissioned National Youth Resilience Initiative enables and empowers youth to visualise and engage towards the world we want and need. Young ambassadors across the country are trained across a diverse set of competencies to action sustainable initiatives at a local level while interfacing with national agendas. The South32 Eco-Hub Project is a nature-positive agriculture project that has been a catalyst for Climate Action youth engagement and employability to ensure climate-resilient food systems in four communities. The Eco-hub model recognizes the role of youth as agents of change in building food secure communities.
aligned with the Sails of Change Sport in Nature partnership that was launched in October 2022.
ADVOCACY AND VOICE
Informed, creative, and active minds to advocate with impact, act with intent, and achieve a self-defined future are drivers of our youth interventions. As implementing organisation for the International Foundation for Environmental Education’s (FEE) Young Reporters for the Environment Programme, WESSA recognises and capitalises on the amplification of capable voices speaking out for people and the planet. Intergenerational voluntary campaigners galvanise action to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing our world.
TRAINING FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Climate change, Biodiversity loss, and Pollution are the priority thematic areas for WESSA’s training work and almost 300 participants, ranging from post-matriculants to community members, university students, and degree holders, have undergone accredited or non accredited [short courses] training this past year. WESSA-certified courses in Energy footprint calculation, Energy Conservation, Climate change adaptation and mitigation, and Sustainable Agriculture have been developed to enhance the scope and relevance of our work in these three priority thematic areas. Our blended approach enables a dynamic training team to consider a learner or group’s unique context and influence the strongest approach to align with their situation and specific needs. In-person, virtual, and hybrid delivery of training ensures we remain relevant to market requirements and the success of this can be appreciated through the diverse
The climate crises, loss of biodiversity and habitats, and pollution are areas of strategic importance for WESSA, and enabling youth to meaningfully engage is critical to our vision of “people caring for the earth”.
NETWORKS AND ASSOCIATIONS
Unrivalled power exists in networks, associations, and an ability to align and collaborate with like minded champions. This is deeply embedded in WESSA’s history as a founding member of the IUCN, a driver behind the Kruger National Park, and a partner to government and corporates alike. WESSA’s youth work looks to galvanise this spirit into South Africa’s youth champions and future legends to enable our future conservation legacies. The WESSA Youth Alumni Network’s mission is to become one of Africa’s largest youth centered environmental movements advocating and acting for environmental and social justice. This ambitious network will be formally launched in January 2023. WESSA’s youth work aligns with the IUCN #NatureForAll network and we are working closely with the IUCN to develop projects
portfolio of clients over this past period.
SNAPSHOT OF TRAINING SERVICES 2020 - 2021 - 2022
• Balwin Foundation funded 20 participants in our Energy footprints calculation training. • DFFE funded 6 of their employees that benefitted from our EIA training. • South 32 funded 20 participants in Sustainable Agriculture training. • The DFFE funded training in Tourism guiding, EIA, and Environmental Management of 10 participants in the Groen Sebenza 1 project. • The DFFE funded 171 participants of the Groen Sebenza (2) project that benefitted from a variety of skills programs ranging from Environmental Education, Environmental Management, Conservation,
and Entrepreneurial skills. DFFE is the funding national department Skills. • 29 self-funded, independent participants trained in our Assessors course.
• TUT Nelspruit funded the EIA training program for 57 of their 2nd-year Tourism students. • Other projects that WESSA Training undertook were on research into climate change which was funded by the GIZ.
build a legacy
T WESSA SCHOOLS PROGRAMME The WESSA school programmes take a life-long learning approach from pre-primary to career, ensuring our youth are equipped with the critical competencies to actively participate and engage towards an environmentally sustainable economy and society for all. The WESSA School Programmes reached 22 000 learners, and 1200 teachers in over 600 schools bringing inclusive quality environmental education experiences to schools. The WESSA Eco-Schools programme, in its 19th year, continues to drive sustainable action and offer holistic environmental education solutions to South African schools.
Our learner-led initiatives are shaping young people to realise the power of their actions in the journey towards a healthy planet for all.
As part of WESSA’s recognition of the power of education, we have introduced a three-tiered support model approach that ensures no one is left behind in the transformative learning journey that starts at school. This three-tiered approach will include school leadership teams, teachers and learners to ensure a whole school approach to education for sustainable development. The three-tiered approach calls for the entire school to advocate and be actively engaged in working towards a sustainable school with education for sustainable development as the driving factor. School leaders have a direct influence on the quality of teaching, education, and ultimately learner performance.
WESSA was one of the implementing partners in the Keep it Cool Climate Change Education where the three-tiered approach was successfully used to support schools towards becoming climate resilient. VVOB and GreenMatter in partnership with Fundisa for Change, WESSA and CASME are the implementing partners of Keep it Cool Climate Change Education (KIC: CCE) involving 100 schools and 200 teachers. WESSA supported 120 teachers through coaching and mentoring sessions to start a curriculum-activated change project at their school that addresses a locally
relevant climate change issue. The project received the Silver Award at the 2022 Eco-Logic awards in the category of Climate Change.
The City of Cape Town partnered with WESSA Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) programme to launch the first phase of this unique and pioneering programme in Cape Town. The partnership is strongly aligned towards fostering capabilities and competencies in youth advocacy in six high schools, to contribute to the resilience of their communities and propose innovative solutions by harnessing social media and its global network to tell their own solution-driven, knowledge-rich and contextual stories.
A whole school approach to education for sustainable development
D WESSA EDUCATION CENTRES Discover, Learn, Grow! Is the philosophy that was adopted by education centres in 2019. A lot of work was done to attract new clients using e-STEAM as a WESSA education centres’ way of teaching. The approach intends to bring about change and improvement to the unit. We are currently in a process of revisiting our pedagogy. This will link all our programs with the principles, goals and subgoals of environmental education. The process is in line with WESSA’s new strategy. With all the programs and material in place, we are optimistic that the unit will continue to offer programs using WESSA’s newly developed mission and vision which emphasizes educating, advocating, and acting. The activities are available for us to refocus and set new objectives that will achieve goals in collaboration with our strategic partners and creating an ecosystem that allows the unit to work effortlessly with other WESSA departments i.e. training, projects and programmes. In addition, we are aiming to teach sustainability linking the environment with social and economic environment to ensure improvement and enhancement of people’s lives. It is about time we identify our true north and strategically set achievable goals.
Bush Pigs Outdoor Education Centre Located in the Limpopo bushveld at the foothills of the Waterberg, on a 350-hectare reserve, WESSA Bush Pigs Environmental Education Centre has been offering exceptional outdoor education programmes since 1987. Total reach:
Twinstreams Education Centre
Since 1952, Twinstreams continues to conduct outstanding programmes for school children from across the country. Located on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal at Mtunzini, the centre offers a unique education experience such as meandering trails through dune forests, mangroves, and estuaries. Total reach:
Learners conducting experiments during National Science Week.
uMngeni Valley Education Centre and Nature Reserve UV is located below the famous Howick Falls with a wide range of habitats varying from bushveld terrain and mist belt grasslands. The reserve enables people to connect with nature through a network of trails providing great access to unique landscapes, flora, and fauna. Exciting news! uMngeni Valley Education Centre has been accredited as a science centre by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). uMngeni Valley Nature Reserve We are embarking on a journey to restore the reserve’s ecological integrity around Howick. The aim is to open opportunities for community upliftment through community-based projects or programmes that will ultimately lead to the conservation of nature. Total reach:
Treasure Beach Education Centre The centre is in the Bluff area, South of Durban and offers an array of coastal programmes such as mangroves, rocky shore studies, and ecological studies. Total reach:
Projects and other programmes
DUCT - Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu project Partnership WESSA uMngeni Valley Nature Reserve has been fortunate enough to host the Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu Phase 2 team. Since the inception of the AEN phase 2 project, the team at WESSA uMngeni valley have been conducting vital activities that enable the reserve to function as well as providing valuable inputs regarding the quality of the water for the streams which run within our reserve. The information they captured shall be added to our management plan and will be a guideline for management purposes.
Mthunzini Rotary Project
Working on fire (Wof) Partnership
The Hilton effect project is an ESTEAM project that aims to improve scientific understanding for learners. Over 200 learners were reached.
We received funding support from the Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) to support the curriculum at schools through our WESSA on Wheels (WOW) programme. Over 1500 learners were reached through the project.
WESSA uMngeni Valley Nature Reserve has been in partnership with Working on Fire for the past three years and the relationship has been very fruitful. The team is responsible for an array of tasks ranging from base maintenance, firefighting, and alien invasive control.
We received project funding from the Canadian Rotary club through the Mthunzini Rotary club. The project’s aim is to improve environmental literacy in KZN rural communities and to also provide curriculum support through learner centered lessons for all STEM subjects. We reached over 180 learners and 21 educators.
W BLUE FLAG PROGRAMME WESSA congratulates the 51 beaches, 5 marinas and 4 boats that were awarded Blue Flag status over the 2021/22 season. This past season saw the highest number of Blue Flag beaches awarded since the inception of the programme in South Africa in 2001. There are 5042 Blue Flag beach, marina and tourism boats around the world.
The Blue Flag programme continues to expand into new South African coastal areas, and while this growth is evidence of the success of the programme, there are always challenges which arise and need to be addressed. One of the key challenges over the past season included sewerage-related issues, which can often result in water quality sample failures. Unfortunately, some beaches have fallen off the programme due to non-compliant water quality. WESSA is committed to working closely with these municipalities to help address the root cause of the issue and get those sites back on the programme to achieve excellent bathing water standards that are safe for both South Africans and international tourists visiting our beaches.
Foundation partnership plays a critical role in enabling WESSA to access all these coastal and sometimes remote sites scattered across the coastline in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The Blue Flag programme has a number of pilot sites (33 in total). These sites are working towards meeting the minimum requirements to obtain Blue Flag status. With additional funding support, WESSA could help these sites achieve the goal of being an international site of excellence. We will continue to work closely with these sites to understand their challenges and ensure they have the support to move forward. A few years back, President Cyril Ramaphosa had a vision of having nothing less than 100 Blue Flag sites in South Africa. It is only
Blue Flag is proudly supported by the Ford Wildlife Foundation which sponsors our Ford Ranger. Thanks to this important partnership, we
through the efforts of our Blue Flag operators and
the relationships we have fostered that we will realise this vision. The new beach wheelchair and beach mat at Santos Blue Flag beach in Mossel Bay, Western Cape
were able to visit at least 60 Blue Flag beaches, marinas and tourism boats to check compliance with the stringent international Blue Flag criteria. Being able to audit these sites ensures the required international standards of excellence in safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards are consistently met. The Ford Wildlife
Highlights over the past year from different Blue Flag sites include the following: • Hessequa municipality for the fourth consecutive year was the only municipality in South Africa to obtain Blue Flag status for all their swimming beaches. • Marina beach in Ray Nkonyeni municipality in KZN received a special award for 20 consecutive years of being on the programme. That’s 20 consecutive years of meeting the stringent criteria! • Southport beach , also in Ray Nkonyeni municipality (KZN) and Nature’s Valley beach in Plettenberg Bay (Bitou municipality) both received special awards for 10 consecutive years of receiving the Blue Flag award • Mossel Bay municipality in the Western Cape has for the first time obtained a beach wheelchair and two universal beach mats. • The Overstrand municipality in the Western Cape was proud to raise the flag of Onrus beach for the very first time. Overstrand also continues to work with WESSA’s TBF stewards who support them during the season by complying with the Blue Flag criteria.
TBF 2 PROGRAMME The Tourism Blue Flag (TBF) Project came to successful completion at the end of August 2022. Funded by a R22 million budget by the National Department of Tourism and the Expanded Public Works Programme, and implemented by WESSA, this 35-month-long project trained 204 previously disadvantaged youth as beach stewards in tourism sector skills and knowledge, to enable them to find permanent employment in the tourism, Green and Blue sectors. This training was undertaken across the difficult Covid lockdowns and beach restrictions, the July 2021 unrest and the two recent floods! WESSA overcame these challenges by pivoting our training programme to an online course. 60 beach stewards gained further employment, returned to full-time study or started their own small businesses. A primary objective of this project was to support the development and activities of Blue Flag-certified beaches, marinas and boat operators, to provide staff to strengthen and grow the Blue Flag (BF) Programme. During the school holiday periods, the beach stewards were hosted at 27 municipal beaches or private marinas that are BF participants, plus at 7 beaches developing themselves to qualify for BF status.
Outside of school holidays, while about a third of the stewards contributed to work at the BF beaches, the others were hosted at 24 tourism orientated hosts, such as Two Ocean Aquarium, Royal St Andrews Hotel, Sustainable Seas Trust and Shark Spotters. Hear what these hosts have to say about the impact of their steward’s.
value the stewards provided to their hosts, that 14 of them employed their stewards when the stewards’ learnerships were completed. WESSA is proud to have implemented this highly impactful youth development programme, and thanks all our stakeholders, the National Department of Tourism, municipalities, and private tourism institutions for growing the Blue Flag Beaches Programme in South Africa and investing so much in our youth.
In total, our stewards provided nearly 40 000 days of visitor services and arranged 315 events and activities for over 19 200 visitors. Such was the
TWO INSPIRING STORIES OF CHANGE
“Being an intern has been an amazing journey for me. I received a warm welcome, support, and guidance, not only from my mentor but as well as the other staff members. I get to experience everything that is done in tourism, activities and how the workplace functions. I get to meet various clients and people who have experience in tourism. I’ve even learnt how to ride a bike, how to arrange and conduct a bike tour for tourists. I have participated in many environmental projects; I have been privileged to be at Green Corridor because I got a chance to apply everything that I have learnt from WESSA training. I am now a volunteer at WESSA youth.” - Nkanyiso Shozi
“I am based in Western Cape at Camps Bay Beach, and my host organization is the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation. I have been exposed to nature for quite some time, for as long as I can remember. I studied Nature Conservation for about 3 years. After my studies, I was delighted to be accepted into the TBF learnership. I have been promoted to interim school group co-coordinator for a month, and things are looking good for further employment. I am very excited that I got to be part of WESSA and transition at the aquarium.” - Taahira Sait impactful youth development programme 19 WESSA
WESSA GROEN SEBENZA The Groen Sebenza Programme is a “bridging into work programme” that creates a nexus in the Environment Sector between National Government, Environment and Conservation organisations, experienced professionals (mentors) and young graduates (mentees) that are seeking a career pathway within the Green Economy. T
WESSA has been involved with the Groen Sebenza Programme since its inception in 2013, hosting almost 90 young graduates on a work integrated training and mentored experience for a 2.5-year period. In 2019, WESSA partnered with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment (DFFE) on a 3-year contract for the management of a national Natural Resource Management (NRM) Training programme. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns exacerbated rising youth unemployment causing Government to increase budget allocation towards interventions that create job opportunities for Youth. Consequently, the WESSA Groen Sebenza Project was dramatically expanded in scope creating placements for an additional 171 conservation and environment graduate interns who were inducted and deployed to 18 diverse host organisations across all 9 provinces in October 2021.
89% of exits were into formal employment in the environmental sector (contract and permanent) and 11% to further study. WESSA itself hosted 54 interns who have injected youthful energy and boosted capacity in all Units. A WESSA Groen Sebenza skills course consists of six modules and is aimed at developing skills with an emphasis on understanding the green economy, landscape, and natural resource management, business skills, and professional development. It is not enough to just build professional and technical skills but also critical thinking and problem-solving skills so that participating graduates, some of whom will become leaders and managers in the sector, have what it takes to affect real change throughout their careers. WESSA will miss the Groenies when the internship concludes, however, all Groenies will remain part of the WESSA family with the imminent launch of the WESSA Alumni Network.
To date, a total of 195 participants have been enrolled with 45 successful exits into employment or further studies.
The ‘veteran’ Groenies that joined WESSA in 2019 graduate in March 2022 at a Graduation event in St Lucia, Kwa Zulu Natal
affect real change
Brilliant Phalane is a Groen Sebenza success story.
Brilliant began as a volunteer at WESSA after completing his Nature Conservation degree. After 6 months of volunteering, he was recruited into the Groen Sebenza programme and continued his personal and professional development journey based at Umngeni Valley. When the position of Reserve Manager became available, he applied and was successful! Brilliant is responsible for ensuring the reserve functions at its best while also keeping an eye on the daily operations of the reserve including maintenance, overseeing projects, and conducting scientific surveys in the reserve.
The Eastern Cape Groenies gather in Chintsa for their Occupational Health and Safety Training.
On Saturday 17 September 2022, close on 900 volunteers took to all of Nelson Mandela Bay’s beaches on International Coastal Clean-up Day and collected some 1 200 bags of human waste, 22 tonnes of plastic and other trash from our shores.
These opportunities of doing something meaningful and being part of, not separate from, nature is the lifeblood of WESSA volunteerism. All around the country, we have branches, organised into five regions, doing similar things.
Aiding local conservancy and Friends-of efforts
Our land and ocean ecosystems and biomes vary greatly, but each bunch of volunteers organised under the banner of WESSA membership dedicate hours and hours of their time to getting out there and doing their bit. And we’re not only busy with clean-ups, WESSA volunteers are working across a range of activities which include: Doing advocacy work that extends from inputting into (and often challenging) local development environmental assessments (EIA’s), to input into national government policies like those on climate change and biodiversity stewardship to participating in national protests such as the recent ones against Shell’s seismic misadventures off the Wild Coast Organising educational events that take kids out into their local wilds and help them see their place in things, or talks and guided walks by experts that build local citizen’s knowledge about the planet and their immediate environment
Driving local specie or habitat rehabilitation and re-wilding programmes and projects Coordinating weekend clean-ups and alien hacks along our coastlines, in our river catchments, and local dams Getting citizen-science projects up and running that measure and test and documenting our biodiversity health and help inform decision makers on how best to meet local challenges
Producing publications like our regular African Wildlife & Environment Issue, or local guidebooks focused on local species or habitats.
The membership regions are as follows:
activities in Algoa Bay from arranging kids’ rocky shore education during Marine Week to coastal clean-ups and alien hacks to talks of the history of Algoa Bay, to convening a local coalition of environmental groups focused on the ocean. Western Cape: inputting into various EIA’s and national policy positions, convening sessions on catchment management, operating Knysna’s nature reserve and publishing their regular newsletter, helping facilitate resolution of local environmental conflicts We have currently engaged in re-imagining and re-thinking what WESSA membership is and does, how best we organise active citizens at a local level, and we feed into, and support programmes run from the national office by our WESSA staff. Our membership numbers have stabilised at just under 800 persons , and while our activities attract hundreds of volunteers, those don’t convert into signing up as members. The question we will seek to answer in the next year is how can we leverage that interest into driving advocacy, education, and action as we seek to stem the tide of climate change and short-term exploitation of our natural resources.
Northern Areas Region (covers Gauteng, North West, Free-State, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga Highlands): they do a lot of work on species such as aloe-rehabilitation, Queen of the North cactus control, a Magaliesberg Vulture hide, Eco-ranger snare collections, anti-firewood programmes, and Hartebeespoort Dam clean-ups Lowveld: Focused on activities such as cleaning up and rehabilitating the White River Nature Reserve, a Bat-Hawk citizen science monitoring project, and convening a symposium on sustainable use and hunting KwaZulu-Natal: Very active youth groups across the region including an Eco-Therapy youth camping trip, involvement in local (environmental) leadership programmes, annual flower walks in the Sani pass, inputting into the Durban Waste Indaba, helping clean up beaches after the recent floods, and educational rocky shore events at Treasure Beach Eastern Cape: Makanda talks and walks that include a Witpoort Formation field trip and supporting a local river-rescue initiative, various
working across a range of activities 23 WESSA
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