2021 WESSA Annual Review


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Annual Review 2020/2021

Cover photo: A Baxter

People Caring For The Earth

CONTENTS CHAIRMAN’S REPORT.................................................4 CEO’SREPORT.............................................................7 FINANCIAL REVIEW....................................................8 WESSA SCHOOLS AND YOUTH UNIT........................10 EDUCATIONCENTRES...............................................16 EDUCATION CENTRES: Exciting new offerings.......26 SUSTAINABLE TOURISM.............................................32 WESSA TRAINING......................................................36 MEMBERSHIP............................................................40 OUR FUNDERS...........................................................47

To contribute to conserving the Earth’s vitality and diversity

To implement high impact environmental and conservation projects which promote public participation in caring for the Earth.

To be a highly effective and well-supported champion of the environment.


Reflecting on 2021 from both a personal and WESSA perspective, it became clear to me that during the past year, WESSA returned to the basics. This was very liberating and fulfilling to see because if the basics are wrong, the outcomes are more than likely to be wrong or not achieved. I start my back-to-basics report by reflecting on a few quotes which are very simple, but very rich. Firstly, to reflect on the core of what we do as WESSA, and secondly, the times we currently live in, which is apt from the perspective of the COVID pandemic At a macro-economic and in the lives of individuals, 2021 continued to be a challenging year on many fronts. Most noticeable are the long-lasting ravaging impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic. Many of us bear the scars of this pandemic. WESSA was not spared. Among the many devastating blows that WESSA people experienced in 2021 was the untimely death of a gentle giant, Mr Ossie Carstens, the immediate past chairperson of WESSA and a long-time serving member of the WESSA Board of Directors. Ossie led WESSA at a very difficult time for the organization, but he studiously carried out the mandate. His legacy will continue to live on at WESSA. Our thoughts still go to his family and may his soul rest in peace. The annual financial performance of WESSA NPO (project income generation and/or corporate or donor funding) continues to be subdued, however I am happy to note that to date, we are weathering the storm better than 2020. In 2021, there were no further retrenchments. This was attributed to difficult decisions that were taken in previous years to have “a fit for purpose staff structure”. Had those retrenchments not been carried out when they were the situation would have been quite dire today. I must place it on record that I empathize with our people who lost their jobs in the process. WESSA itself was a causality of this process as it lost both committed people and significant intellectual capital. I am happy that most of them have found their balance and continue to volunteer their time. Besides being the nimble organisation that we are today, the everyday work of WESSA continues. Without the remaining WESSA staff, we would have no functioning WESSA. Throughout these difficult and turbulent times, WESSA staff remained focused on the task and faithful to their mandates. My gratitude goes to all staff, especially the Executive Committee which provided leadership to the organisation in a very disciplined way. I continue to be impressed by the excellent and diverse work our members are doing on the ground. The Board of Directors has been receiving regular feedback on the programmes the regions are pursuing and the successes. The membership initiatives range from clean-up campaigns to principled objections to ecologically undesirable projects and our present-day existential challenge, climate change and other environmental degrading activities. These are very important programmes, and the impact could be even greater if the regions collaborate further with each other. When we met around this time, 12 months ago, we experienced many board director resignations, including the CEO and CFO. Relations within the remaining Board members were quite low. I am very pleased to advise

You cannot protect the environment unless you

empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them.

Wangari Maathai

Claudine Schneider a healthy economy. A healthy ecology is the basis for


Annual Review 2020-2021

that these are things of the past. We now have a stable and full complement of the WESSA Board. To establish this Board, we appealed to the captains of the industry and public sector who genuinely care for the earth, and we received the most positive responses. We are indebted to everyone who has taken their time from families and demanding careers to lend their support to this worthy cause. If any of you ever doubted why they joined this Board which is so demanding on their time – I would leave you with this question “What is the good of having a nice house without a decent planet to put it on?” – author unknown

A NEW CEO The Board embarked on a conscientious process to recruit and select our new Chief Executive Officer. The recruitment attracted a wide range of individuals which is the testimony of WESSA’s standing in society. The recruitment and selection process itself was very thorough, novel, inclusive and participatory. This process resulted in the selection of Dr Andrew Baxter who officially started in his position on 1 September 2021. Andrew is well known for his strategic and innovative approach to leadership. He joins us from an illustrious career both in the private and non-profit sectors. Welcome to WESSA Andrew - we look forward to your contributions.


WESSA’s current strategy and direction was developed many years ago, and from time to time has been reviewed mainly as part of the annual budgeting process and to ensure our relevance with our stakeholders. Sometime in 2020, the Board approved a proposal which arose from the members of WESSA requesting a comprehensive review our strategic direction. In this regard, the Board resolved to undertake a “root and branch” review of the WESSA strategy. To implement this work, the Board selected an ad hoc committee of the Board to coordinate our efforts. The ad hoc committee is representative of all WESSA stakeholders. Despite the dedication of Board members, Exco members and WESSA members, the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust generously provided funding to make this work possible. We were extremely grateful for this funding, which enabled us to procure the services of professional consultants in the environmental and biodiversity sector led by Prof Christo Fabricius, Dr Randall Jonas and Dr Bianca Currie. The team have also given us many pro bono hours for which we are extremely grateful. To remind us all, our current programmes are (i) Sustainable Tourism ; (ii) WESSA Training ; (iii) Schools and Youth Unit and (iv) Education Centres . These programmes were borne out of the realisation that human capacity development is a major catalyst to social change. If any of our current programmes will be discontinued, it will have to be ensured that due care is applied because each of the programme stems from a rich and colourful history of strategic choices. As part of the strategic review exercise, I would caution us against being too broad as that may result in us becoming less impactful. Once we have determined our strategic direction, and the structure that will follow, as approved by the Board, we must ensure that there is a clearly defined funding model. Our strategy, as guided by Prof Fabricius and his team is ongoing. With a stable Board of Directors, full complement of the EXCO cohort and the ongoing strategic review, the basics have been corrected and we now have a platform to be outwardly focused.

At a substantive level, the strategic review is looking at the value and sustainability of our current programmes and assessing opportunities for adding new programmes to address the ongoing environmental degradation and/or unsustainable use of our natural resources.

Mr Wandisile Mandlana WESSA Chairman

Annual Review 2020-2021



Just as this report was being penned (with a sense of renewed optimism that the world could be returning to some sort of normalcy) news of Omicron thwarted any upbeat disposition. While normalcy as we once knew it may never return, the fact is that organizations the world over are compelled to find new ways to work and new ways to be effective. At WESSA, we are currently navigating our way through these challenges, whilst managing our talent pool, ensuring exemplary governance, and fulfilling the obligations to our many stakeholders. Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the four Education Centres , WESSA was able to continue to deliver environmental education programmes and holistic action-learning processes - known as e-STEAM education - through the innovative WESSA on Wheels (WOW) programme. All of these education programmes are linked to the South African CAPS and IEB curriculum to help prepare young South Africans for 21 st century living. The WESSA Schools and Youth Programme has continued to invest in young people by working with schools and teachers to support and improve school curricula, by amplifying the Sustainable Development Goals and by equipping children for a more sustainable future. WESSA continues to reach more than a million South African youth annually. The Groen Sebenza Project , funded by the Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) was upscaled to 150 graduates during the third quarter of the current financial year. WESSA was appointed as the lead implementer, in partnership with 25 environmental and biodiversity stakeholders, in this presidential stimulus project to support youth in the environmental and biodiversity sector. The objectives of the Groen Sebenza project are to create jobs and to ensure that the training capacity needed to grow this sector has been addressed as the demand for work experience and environmental skills increases. To achieve these broad objectives this project has two key and interlinked components. The first aspect builds on WESSA’s experience in implementing work integrated learning and meaningful work experience within the natural resource guardianship landscape, and the second builds on WESSA’s experience as an accredited training provider in the environmental sector. The WESSA Blue Flag Programme is in its 21 st year of implementation in South Africa in 2021. South Africa was the first country outside of Europe to join the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) on the Blue Flag programme. Since then, many countries outside of Europe have followed South Africa’s example and joined Blue Flag, giving the programme its international recognition. Today the Blue Flag programme is active at 4 671 sites in 47 countries. Reflecting on my own experience at WESSA over the past few months, the following anecdote seems most appropriate: During a recent trip to the beautiful Babanango Valley which sweeps down off the high-altitude KZN grasslands and plunges towards the majestic White Umfozoli River, I was offered an opportunity to go horse riding through a new community game reserve. Having grown up around horses I consider myself to be a proficient horseman and filled with nostalgic memories of my youth I immediately exclaimed “Yes!”. It proved to be a wild and exciting ride and for the first hour my sole focus was to remain alive as I clung tenaciously to the back of the wild-eyed beast. It was only after a few hours that the ride calmed down and became more predictable, more enjoyable. No longer pre-

The past twelve months have been especially challenging but with the support and guidance from the WESSA Board, the ExCo team have admirably steered the WESSA ship and held a steady course. After eleven months of running the organisation as a collective, ExCo welcomed the appointment by the Board of Andrew Baxter as the

new CEO on a full-time basis from September 2021.

WESSA is committed to working together with local municipalities and tourism operators to grow the Blue Flag programme in South Africa. The programme provides an excellent international standard for municipalities and tour operators to strive toward. Sites flying the Blue Flag are showing their commitment to conserving our fragile marine and coastal environment, raising environmental awareness and increasing sound environmental practices. 6 Annual Review 2020-2021

occupied with self-preservation, I could begin to take in my surroundings and observe the beauty and complexity of the natural world around me. The horse seemed to sense my firm consistency and calm assurance and he too became less skittish and more certain, more confident. This enabled us to develop trust and the journey became more intuitive. Before long we were riding close to large and potentially dangerous animals - an experience I shall not forget. I relay this anecdote because it’s been 100 days since I climbed on the back of the WESSA horse, and I would be remiss in not declaring that it’s been a wild ride thus far! There is still some distance to go before we achieve the internal consistency and predictability that WESSA requires to put the organisation on a calm and solid footing for the future. That said, I’ve ridden similar sorts of horses before and already there are positive signs of progress. The good news is that we have a great horse with tremendous potential. I have been enormously encouraged by the positive sentiment towards WESSA – expressed both externally and internally. In the language of marketers Wessa is what is known as a ‘love brand’ – an older, trusted brand that carries a reverence based on continuity and reliability. This is a good horse to back. With the exceptional support from the dedicated WESSA board of directors, together with the willingness and expertise from highly capable staff, we have a great platform from which to effect the changes that are required to take WESSA forward, first at a trot and then at a canter. Since taking office at the beginning of September 2021, I have received many calls and approaches from membership and from the public relating to issues of environmental concern and requesting WESSA’s intervention and support. It is reassuring to know that the public regard WESSA as an organisation to turn to for advice and guidance. Central to the future ambition and success of WESSA is the strategic review process which is currently mid-stream and which has achieved the first major milestone – a comprehensive strategic review document that will guide WESSA towards new and important focus areas – thus ensuring that our work is relevant and that we tackle critical environmental challenges such as the climate crisis, biodiversity/habitat loss and the scourge of pollution. In March 2021, WESSA celebrated 95 years of People Caring for the Earth. As a result of the strategic review process, we are currently planning where to direct our energy and ambition for the next five years, leading up to our centenary. With the strength of the five regions and the enduring commitment from our loyal members, supporters and hardworking staff, WESSA is gearing up to take on the environmental challenges that lie ahead. The WESSA Leadership will continue to rally around the purpose of People Caring for the Earth and we commit to focus on our values of integrity, mutual respect, excellence, innovation, and accountability.

Matthew Cocks, General Manager of the WESSA Education Centres has won the silver Eco-Leadership award at the recent Enviropaedia Ecologic awards. his development of E-Steam as a learning model for WESSA. E-Steam has exposed students to outdoor and participative learning. Matthew’s ambition is to focus on learners and schools, and supporting teachers with their The award is in recognition of curriculum. He humbly shares this award with his education team.

ExCo Members from left to right: Vincent Shacks, Nana Msomi, Cindy-Lee Cloete, Matthew Cocks, Andrew Baxter, Sarah Alcock

Annual Review 2020-2021



It was a challenging year for WESSA with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the nation-wide lockdown, and its effect on funding opportunities. Project sales for the 2020/21 financial year decreased by 59% in comparison to the previous financial year. This is the lowest number we’ve seen in the past 6 years. This steep decline in project sales is indicative of impact the COVID19

pandemic and lockdown had on business particularly project funding, it caused disruptions to operations, with school visits being cancelled and projects and training being postponed.

With the increased anxiety and uncertainty about the future, some funders decided not to enter new contracts. Although project proposals were submitted the response and success rate was much slower than anticipated.


A comprehensive deficit of R2 570 539 was reported for the 2020/2021 financial year. Salaries for the financial year under review contributes to 50% of total costs, which is an improvement to the previous financial year (2019/2020) which was 66% of total costs. There has been no provision made for bonuses due to the weak operational results.


Annual Review 2020-2021

The comparison of year-on-year sources of income is illustrated below. Self-generated income decreased significantly because of the national lockdown which occurred during the financial year, this restricted operations. Donations were much higher than in previous years due to the generous donation received from the Mrs Van Wyk estate. Self-generated income decreased significantly due of the national lockdown which occurred during the financial year and which severely restricted operations. THE COMPARISON OF YEAR-ON-YEAR SOURCES OF INCOME

The above results are unaudited and do not include adjustments.

DEA NRM Training & Capacity Development R 6 324 000

Tourism Blue Flag Project 2 R 7 601 000

Glencore - Support 17 schools in Emalahleni R 446 000


RMB R 491 000

De Beers - Support 10 schools in Blouberg Area R 550 100

Chris Hani District Municipality - Rural Sustainable Villages R 3 218 000

Sishen Project R 659 000

DEA NRM Groen Sebenza R 1 315 000

Tourism Green Coast Project R 2 170 100

Africa Germany Youth Initiative Phase 2 R 1 877 000

Annual Review 2020-2021


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Now more than ever the transition to a more just and sustainable 21st century will become the foundation to a more symbiotic future for our people and our Earth. Self- empowerment, problem solving and critical thinking have been at the heart of our environmental learning programmes to equip learners and teachers to chart the way forward post the COVID-19 pandemic and working towards this future we need.

Our Eco-Schools, Learning About Forests (LEAF) and Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Programmes have been well positioned to directly respond to rebuilding a more resilient education system that can navigate future social and environmental challenges and actively participate in working towards a better quality of life for all . One of the highlights of our WESSA school programmes this past year was that we have been able to support teachers and their education recovery plans through the formation of Professional Learning Communities. Teachers in these Professional Learning Communities have supported each other through one of the most difficult academic years and continued their professional development to improve teaching and learning within their classrooms and the broader South African education system. The relevance, impact and sustainability of the WESSA Schools and Youth Programmes and Projects were ubiquitous during these last two challenging years. Even with fewer schools taking in our programmes, we reached 9 465 teachers and 504 800 learners this year bringing positive change and unlocking sustainability in schools and communities across South Africa. The Eco-Schools programme continues to be the leading global environmental education movement shaping a generation of environmentally conscious youth and transforming South African schools into becoming centres of environmental excellence using the Eco-Schools Seven Steps for transformation. A new partnership with the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) was established in 2020 which has seen the growth the WESSA Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Programme . Through this partnership South African young reporters are able to speak their truth on various global and local platforms to become part of decision making and share their local climate action stories. Our YRE workshops have engaged youth on local environmental sustainability and empowering them to be part of the solution to building a sustainable and just future.

Bringing positive change and unlocking sustainability in schools and communities across

South Africa, we reached: 9 465 Teachers 504 800 Learners

We are happy to announce that the Learning About Forests (LEAF) Programme secured its first funded project since its launch in South

Annual Review 2020-2021


Africa in 2018. This LEAF Project is situated in Grabouw, Western Cape, and responding directly to biodiversity loss challenges within the Fynbos Biome by turning two high schools into biodiversity hotspots and reconnecting people with nature. As we move forward, the WESSA Schools Programme have strategically aligned the programme to take on a more learner centred approach where youth ambassadors are the drivers of sustainability action in their schools and communities. These WESSA youth ambassadors will be nurtured to become change makers in their schools and communities through the WESSA student led environmental projects and become role models of environmental sustainability. As a way of growing our own timber we hope that these youth ambassadors will develop into WESSA Alumni and continue with their work in our youth programmes and projects. CONTRIBUTING TO TRANSFORMED HUMAN CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT IN THE SECTOR THROUGH OUR YOUTH INITIATIVES Through the National Youth Resilience Initiative’s [NYRI] Ambassador Network , WESSA in collaboration with Activate Change Drivers, is empowering a national pool of inspirational young South Africans to respond, with knowledge and new competencies, to the call to action by President Ramaphosa on 16 June 2021 for youth to “rise to the challenge of leading our recovery after the coronavirus [where] this pandemic provides us with an opportunity to inject new perspectives into how we can turn our economy around, but also how we can reimagine our very society!” The NYRI, commissioned by the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities in partnership with the GIZ Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention Programme, remains close to the ministry with the department’s Deputy Minister, Prof Mkhize, being an active contributor to the growth path of the ambassadors. Phase 1 will close out in November 2021 with the partner structure currently engaging on future phases. Capitalising on the need to build a stronger green economy, the WESSA Groen Sebenza Project , in partnership with the Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment, will build youth capacity to address the environmental issues and opportunities in South Africa through job creation and professional development, resource management and entrepreneurial skills for 171 work-based youth interns. WESSA is working with over 75 diverse host organisations inclusive of all levels of government and civil society to bring a growth mindset to the green economy agenda. Given that our country is extraordinarily rich in youth capital for a more resilient, sustainable and just future, WESSA recognises that this capital remains largely untapped and definitely under- optimised. Driving an agenda for a more resilient and informed youth sector who are capacitated to act for environmental, social, political and sustainable justices, who are positioned as entrants to professional spaces in the green and blue economy and who are enabled to lead into our immediate future is what drives WESSA Youth!

Starting of the Biodiversity garden with the learners at Groenberg Secondary school

Our track record of more than 10 years partnering with government on work- based training has positioned WESSA Youth to influence, through integrated learning and work- based experience, the trajectory towards a stronger green economy for South Africa which talk to the Environmental Sector Skills Plan and the local government needs assessment to address deficits in Resource Guardianship, biodiversity conservation, alien species control and water quality management.

12 Annual Review 2020-2021

GROEN SEBENZA By positioning our work, through projects like the NYRI and the Groen Sebenza, we are highlighting our intent to identify, develop and unleash this capital proactively and productively into our country’s growth agenda. Further to this, WESSA Youth is undertaking the exciting task of bringing together, and coordinating for change, all youth that have been influenced by the organisation’s reach across its units and divisions in an attempt to create one of the largest NGO affiliated youth movements for a better world. These “ WESSA Alumni ” permeate almost all sectors of the social fabric of South Africa and provide WESSA Youth with an unprecedented and catalytic potential to have a substantive impact in shaping our future where the agenda is mindful of youth perspectives that enable transformative youth actions. The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) embarked on a major skills development and job creation pilot programme in 2013 and named it Groen Sebenza . Starting out as a Jobs Fund Partnership Project funded by the National Treasury aimed at developing priority skills in the biodiversity sector to create sustainable job opportunities for unemployed graduates and non-graduates. The project matches young South Africans from previously disadvantaged backgrounds with experienced biodiversity professionals to learn and gain the competence and confidence to embark on rewarding and meaningful biodiversity careers.

A very special thank you to the WESSA Schools and Youth team for their continued personal and professional investment in our programmes and projects to help schools and youth craft more inclusive, transformative

and meaningful pathways for the future we need.

Workplace experience through a structured mentoring, skills development and training programme.


The objective of Groen Sebenza is to bridge the gap between education and job opportunities in the biodiversity sector and the green economy , aiming to develop priority

skills in the biodiversity sector in order to generate sustainable jobs for unemployed graduates and matriculants. South Africa’s green economy offers substantial opportunities for job

creation and development, particularly in biodiversity and natural resource management.

Annual Review 2020-2021



REACH (2020-2021)

631 Schools

504 800 Learners


9 465

Number of Wheelchairs donated from bread tags for wheelchairs recycling project Waste collected 10 200 kg Number of beach/ litter clean ups 14

Green flags




International flags

Number of Platinum schools involved in mentoring



Number of composting projects


Income generated from waste

R 2 500


Worm farms

Number of Eco bricks made

Number of weather stations

19 600


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Food gardens (Revived or enhanced)


Drinking water points

Food gardens (Established from scratch)




204 Hand sanitiser stands


Lesson plans/ Guidelines/ Posters

202 Hygiene systems


173 Schools

Food Tunnels


Gardening Tools


50 Shields



1554 Hand soap (in litres)



Sanitiser (in litres)


Hand washing station

Waste management

Harvesting season!

Annual Review 2020-2021


16 Annual Review 2020-2021


#WOW and WESSA Feed were a game-changer for the unit and resulted in the approval of three funded projects worth R2 600 000 over 3 years.

The last 15 months have probably been the most difficult for this unit, from its proud beginnings in the 1970s. External factors have effectively rendered the ability of the unit to deliver outdoor school camps near- impossible, and cut-off the unit’s core income stream. It has also exposed weaknesses within South Africa’s outdoor industry and impacted directly on WESSA’s four properties.


Apart from the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic that effectively closed the global camp industry for 10 months, two separate tragedies at independent outdoor centres exposed a divided and ill-equipped outdoor education industry that is not supported by the state and not governed by an independent and professional compliance association. This has meant that providers, such as WESSA, who implement high-standard compliance and OHS Protocols, have been exposed by blanket departmental decisions, by officials who don’t necessarily understand our unique offerings. After closing our centres in March 2020, and then dealing with both a long- term ban on school extra-mural offerings, and constant changes to rules around the adjusted risk levels in the country, the unit had to go through an unfortunate restructuring in June 2020. The remaining skeleton team were forced to continuously think outside the box to find new ways to deliver our curriculum-based support programmes. We knew that those teachers and students located around our centres would desperately need our offerings and support when schools reopened, and thus developed the ‘WESSA-ON-WHEELS’ (#WOW) Programmes to deliver curriculum support services and COVID-19 awareness programmes to schools in- situ. A NEW OPERATIONAL MODEL AND OFFERING

Click here for more information on WESSA-ON-WHEELS’ (#WOW) Programmes

Alongside the development of #WOW, it became clear that many school children would also need support in getting access to decent meals and nutrition education post the lockdown,

and so we developed the #WOW FEED Concept, focusing on Food Security and Environmental Education programmes . These two concepts were a game- changer for the unit and resulted in the approval of three funded projects worth R2 600 000 over 3 years.

Annual Review 2020-2021


Once the country moved to adjusted level 3, under very strict COVID-19 protocols, the unit delivered both traditional outdoor camps to independent schools across our four centres, and a series of #WOW programmes to primary and high schools in KZN. BACK TO OPERATIONS POST-LOCKDOWN



5 3 1 0

220 150

420 students reached

uMngeni Valley


Bush Pigs

Treasure Beach






550 876

2434 students reached

uMngeni Valley

Bush Pigs


Treasure Beach


Students and teachers were craving the outdoors and needing time in nature after 3months of lockdown. It was easy to deliver such an experience, as can be seen in the video, where Wykeham Collegiate Grade 7 Girls fully immersed themselves in Mangrove Mud at Twinstreams, with much encouragement from one of our legendary educators, Kevin Lakani.

Since 2017, the unit has delivered President’s Award experiences to approximately 500 13 to 18-year-old youth across our centres. Our unique approach to these programmes focuses on integrating field study activities into adventure hikes, so that students can be citizen-scientists and research specific habitats and environmental issues in the field. This creates an exciting product where adventure experiences dovetail with science-based inquiry and experiential learning opportunities. WESSA E-STEAM HIKING PROGRAMMES

Click to play

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Twinstreams WESSA Centre uMngeni Valley

15 Students HIKES 40 Students 0 Students 23 Students

10 Students RESIDENTIALS 15 Students 0 Students 30 Students

Bush Pigs

Treasure Beach

Gold and Silver President’s Award Participants learning about Coastal Geomorphology and Sandy Shores along KZN’s North Coast.

Annual Review 2020-2021


THE HILTON COLLEGE ISIVIVANE – WESSA E-STEAM IN ACTION In 2018, WESSA uMngeni Valley and Hilton College conceptualised the Isivivane Journey (Throw a stone onto the monument). Annually, the Grade 10 boys’ hike approximately 200 km and ‘journey’ from the Hilton College campus, through uMngeni Valley, into the Karkloof and Albert Falls areas. The boys collect a stone from Mount Gilboa, the highest summit in the Karkloof Range (1765 metres above sea level) and carry it ‘home’ to ‘throw it onto their monument.’ While the boys are hiking, cycling, zip-lining, canoeing, and camping, they are also fully immersed in nature where the WESSA guides educate the groups on the importance of water resource management, invasive alien protection, indigenous forest protection and biodiversity protection across at least 8 different habitats. The WESSA e-STEAM Programme is also fully integrated into the hike, where each group conducts a series of field surveys and a full catchment study of the upper uMngeni River, from Howick Falls to Albert Falls Dam, including the Karkloof, Yarrow, Molweni and uMshwati Streams, while also considering the importance of environmental education and protection.

Hilton College Isivivane

These pictures tell the story of the fantastic experience these boys had. We had another programme between 17th and 31st August 2021 (15 days).

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By the beginning of 2021, the unit had secured three WESSA-ON-WHEELS e-STEAM funded projects to be implemented by the KZN Centres. We welcomed back Raymond Ngubane and Kevin Lakani , two stalwarts of our centres with a combined experience in environmental education teaching of 25 years. The implementation of these projects started in February 2021, with a series of in-school planning workshops and teacher training interventions.


The Rotary e-STEAM Project is a 3-year integrated school development programme for 10 under resourced schools in the uMhlatuze Municipality.

To enable school learners to explore environmental issues and engage in problem solving using e-STEAM and take action to improve the environment.

Raymond Ngubane (top photo) and Kevin Lakani (bottom photo) in action!

To impart knowledge about the principles required for the conservation and utilization of natural resources for the existence of mankind through environmental education.

To expose learners to protection of the environment using e-STEAM as section 24 of the constitution state that: - Everyone has the right to environment which is not harmful to their health or wellbeing - Everyone has the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.

Project objectives

We are only 6-months into a 36 month project, but are very excited by the early impact and results from what has already been achieved.

The key outcomes of the project so far include the following: • Construction of waste nets • Wind energy and deforestation control • Construction of deforestation control method • Construction of a recycling centre • Training on Invasive Alien clearing methodologies

Click here to read more about the Rotary e-STEAM project

Annual Review 2020-2021


HILTON EFFECT FOUNDATION e-STEAM PROJECT: The Hilton Effect Foundation Project uses the FEEDConcept as the platform to train teachers and students to establish own sustainable food gardens, while registering them Eco-Schools. The e-STEAM teaching methodology is used to deliver workshops, resources and teacher and learning support, with regular in-school workshops and field walks.



Serving nutritious meals to all school students during each school visit


Environmentally sustainable programmes: Eco practices, sustainable food gardens, water, waste, energy, community involvement

EDUCATION & CURRICULUM SUPPORT PROGRAMMES Grade, curriculum support and enrichment; leadership, personal development

Educator training and upskilling including digital and online technologies and methods

Thembelihle students presenting the prototype from their WESSA e-STEAM Ideation session

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Through our WOW and FEED programmes we plan to take meals and education to schools who are most vulnerable, lack resources and who will be the most impacted by a post COVID-19 world.

Here are some of the outcomes of the Thembelihle partnership up to July 2021:

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Subject specific curriculum services - life sciences, physical sciences, geography, life orientation




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Holistic methodology using practical problem solving activities

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Teacher training, upskilling and enrichment


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Thembelihle in- school Teacher training workshop

FEED Programme activities

Food Security - sustainable gardening, vertical gardening, seasonal planting, composting

Plastic waste, eco-bricks construction materials for Eco-Gardens


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Team building, personal development and leadership activities

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Thembelihle in- school e-STEAM Workshop

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The partnership between WESSA uMngeni Valley and Thembelihle STEAM Primary School is particularly exciting because the WESSA team are working alongside the teachers to develop and implement weekly STEAM lessons both at the school and at uMngeni Valley. The ongoing development of the school’s STEAM curriculum aligns well with our own e-STEAM framework and has also resulted in peer-to-peer learning sessions.

Thembelihle visit to WESSA uMngeni Valley

Annual Review 2020-2021


EDTEA PROJECT The #WOW Project has delivered ½ day workshops to schools in the eThekwini, uMgungundlovu and uMhlatuze Municipalities since October 2020. The WESSA Educator works alongside the school to design a curriculum-support lesson, focusing on specific outcomes, objectives, and topics. These range from all ages, class sizes and subjects. Lessons include: COVID-19 Awareness, Zoonosis, Geography, Geomorphology, Natural Science, Environmental issues, Sustainability, Mangroves, Rivers, miniSASS, and even Art and English classes.

We have delivered the following #WOW Programmes since July 2020:



Umgungundlovu Umhlatuze

PRIMARY SCHOOLS Students Teachers HIGH SCHOOLS Students Teachers




1630 students reached










704 students reached







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WESSA SCIENCE CENTRES The WESSA Education Centre unit registered on the SAASTA (South African Agency for Science and Technology Awareness) platform in early 2020 to become accredited Science Centres. This platform falls under the Department of Science and Innovation’s National Research Foundation (NRF) business unit, and has the mandate to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering, innovation, and technology in South Africa. TheSAASTAAuditing teamspent 3days auditingour programmes, facilities, procedures, and governance structures in May 2021. The feedback was complementary about the quality of WESSA’s professional team, and the approach to delivering of scientific concepts through our programmes. They see huge potential in having WESSA as a partner because of the wide range of opportunities we bring to Science Education in South Africa. They commended our unique resources, facilities, our access to pristine natural environments and our focus on key environmental issues including biodiversity loss, climate change, environmental protection, environmental restoration, linkages to the SDGs and linkages to the National Curriculum Statement.

We are waiting with much anticipation the official accreditation and thus benefit from the many DSi funding streams.

Annual Review 2020-2021


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The Education Centre’s team is constantly looking for new opportunities to use our beautiful centre locations as teaching platforms. Here are the new innovative offerings available at our outdoor classrooms.

ONLINE FIELD STUDY TRIPS An opportunity presented itself in 2021 for the centre teams to create and deliver online lectures and virtual field trips to both schools and universities who are unable to visit in person. This can lead to an exciting new business opportunity and can be expanded past South Africa’s borders too. UKZN Climate Change Classroom: The team delivered a 1-day fieldtrip to 30 4th Year Trainee Teachers and Lecturers focusing on the causes and effects of Climate Change. Using in-situ videos at Treasure Beach, Twinstreams and uMngeni Valley, a series of virtual fieldtrips were delivered online through a blended learning approach. The World Environment Day e-Learning Platform: WESSA collaborated with UNEP, Cape Nature and The Western Cape Education Department to develop a e-Learning teaching tool to teach primary school students about ecological restoration. Twinstreams was showcased as an example of long- term restoration and protection success. Ruth Garland, daughter of Dr. Ian Garland was interviewed from Australia, and described her father’s legacy of 75 years of best practice.

See the e-classroom here:

Click to play

Annual Review 2020-2021


‘GREENING THE SECURITY INDUSTRY’ TRAINING PROGRAMME Through extensive engagement with private landowners, reserve managers and stewardship role-players, WESSA developed the ‘Greening the Security Industry’ training programme. This came about because concerns have been raised that private security guards are expected to work on the front lines of dealing with wildlife crime and keeping natural areas safe but are severely lacking skills and knowledge to deal with a very complex and dangerous job. Not only are the guards having to protect wildlife against poachers and wildlife crime syndicates, but they also must work with local communities, rangers, law enforcement, intelligence networks, landowners, and the public. They also having to report on environmental issues.

WESSA and our partners believe that through effective training interventions and ongoing mentoring and support, the private security industry can play a lead role in our fight to secure and protect our pristine natural areas. It is written into our country’s legislation that we must protect the environment, and we should all be equipping our people to do this correctly.

Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) principles

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques

Practical examples of and solutions to many different environmental and biodiversity issues

Training Include both classroom theory, and in-situ practical sessions

Environmental legislation and the ordinances governing wildlife crime

Identification of animals and plants, tracking and anti-poaching techniques

Conservation practices and biodiversity stewardship principles

Through this WESSA Training Programme, security guards will exit with the following outcomes:

The pilot course was held June 2021, with 7 participants attending a 6-day course at uMngeni Valley. The feedback from landowners has been positive, and the ongoing support and M&E is now in place for the participants.

• Better ability to work collaboratively with local communities. • Better knowledge of specific legislation on environmental protection; wildlife crime; and reporting on environmental issues. • An experiential learning programme that improves knowledge of local habitats. • Deliver a set of resources for practical use ‘in the field’ • Create a support network to deal with environmental issues in-situ • Provide ongoing support, through both M&E, and communication channels to improve the service offered to landowners and local communities.

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UNIVERSITY ECOTOURISM FIELD TRIPS: We are currently developing an MOU with Venda University of Technology to develop a progressive Eco-tourism training curriculum for students, using the 4 WESSA Centre’s as outdoor classrooms.

A REVIVAL OF PARTNERSHIPS AND UMNGENI VALLEY’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE UEIP The Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu Project was launched in January 2021 as a project under the UEIP, which includes SANBI, DUCT, Department of Science and Innovation and The Water Research Commission. 300 youth were placed as Eco-Rangers along the uMngeni River catchment as Eco-Rangers to both assess water quality and to improve the local habitat. uMngeni Valley hosted 20 youth in the reserve and surrounds, and our expertise in training and capacity building has also benefitted the project. uMngeni Valley plays a strategic role both in the greater catchment, and the Biosphere Reserve Project. Following on from the initial project, there are several very exciting opportunities that have come from this partnership, including projects in the Karkloof, the Middle uMngeni, and Blue lagoon. LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE There is still much uncertainty about the future of outdoor education and the school camp industry in South Africa. While the pandemic continues to affect both the education and tourism sector globally, what is very clear is that nature and experiences in the natural world are becoming more important as people realise that our planet is being negatively affected by climate change and biodiversity loss. Our centres must remain relevant, not only to welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about the environment, but also to protect the special habitats where each centre operates. As a team, we are constantly exploring and innovating to create new offerings and programmes that can continue the rich legacy our centres have had in both the education and environmental protection sectors of this country.

Annual Review 2020-2021


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SUSTAINABLE TOURISM What have we learnt as an organization over the last 12 months with regard to sustainable tourism in South Africa and the impacts of a global pandemic on that sector? For a start, we have seen that (drastically) lower tourism numbers means more breathing space for nature and natural spaces. We have all seen images and footage of species making use of areas in parks and even cities that they previously did not when tourism was open. We have seen clearer rivers, clearer air and significantly less noise pollution too. With less tourism activity, we have also seen a significant drop in the use of consumable resources such plastic packaging, chemical cleaning products and fuel. In fact, it is likely that “tourism” has just seen its most low impact period over the last decade. So, from an environmental sustainability point of view, the pandemic has resulted in significant natural gains for our planet. But what is it we are trying to do here? The value of tourism to the larger environmental movement is significantly more powerful than a world without tourism. The ability to see new places, new species and new cultures is the critical catalyst to getting people to care more about planet earth and her creatures. The concept of sustainable tourism is built around doing this in the most careful way possible to ensure we can keep doing it forever. In South Africa, we have also seen the incredible economic power of this sector which remained resilient during a number of economic downturns over the last two decades. Finding this healthy balance between the growth of this economic sector and the environmental sustainability of it, is what WESSA is trying to assist with. In this regard, we are supporting the tourism private sector through our programmes like Green Key as well as our local and national governments through programmes such as Blue Flag and Green Coast. Our work is focused on places, properties and people.

Finding a healthy balance between the growth of this economic sector and the environmental sustainability of it.


Over the last 12 months, we saw a somewhat surprising stability to the number of sites on our Blue Flag awards programme. Surprising since for much of the last 12 months our municipal partners

were forced to close all of their swimming beaches and saw very little economic returns from these public tourism sites. On the other hand however, our Blue Flag team have provided much in the way of support for these beaches through the sharing of best practices learnt from our 4000 plus beaches around the world, all of which were heavily affected by the Covid lockdowns in each of our 50 plus partner countries. It is in times like this (global pandemic) where a global network of partners becomes extremely valuable. It is also clear to us that all of our local coastal municipalities are taking the time and effort to rebuild in ways that are more sustainable and resilient going forward, and Blue Flag provides the perfect platform for doing that. Based on our feedback from municipalities in the 2021/22 season, we are expecting a record number of Blue Flag sites in South African in 2022.

Annual Review 2020-2021


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