By Roger Bailey, Acting Executive Director: Flower Valley Conservation Trust
Even at the most southerly tip of Africa, the impacts of COVID-19 are being felt acutely.
For Flower Valley Conservation Trust, we see it most clearly in our communities we work with. Flower Valley’s role has always been to protect our natural world THROUGH people. Everything we do to achieve our vision: A fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods, takes place by working with people.
As a result of the virus, all our in-field programmes came to a halt (although harvesting operations have now resumed under Level 4 of lockdown).
Our alien clearing programme creates work for 150 people. There are about 200 harvesters involved in our Sustainable Harvesting Programme. And around 300 young children go to school at our 5 core centres, and 80 families are supported through our Early Childhood Development Programme.
These teams and communities had to stay home when the crisis hit, and most still remain at home – staying safe and helping to prevent the spread of the virus. We’re so grateful to them for playing their part in dealing with this crisis.
But we are also very aware of how this has affected them.
And as such, we’re setting ourselves up to play a role in supporting these and other communities affected by the virus.
- Both our Natural Resource Management and Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes received calls from participants in these programmes to assist those communities hardest hit by the lockdown. Examples are the Pearly Beach, Eluxolweni community. Currently a team led by the Flower Valley ECD Programme aims to contribute to the coordination of food parcels to vulnerable households in Eluxolweni and Baardskeerdersbos (a small town in our area of operations).
- We are very alert to the fact that there may be existing schemes in place already. Therefore, our goal is to supplement these schemes to assist with demands over this critical period.
We’ll also continue to adapt ourselves to support any other causes that emerge in our area of operations as a result of the Coronavirus.
Despite the significant negative effects of this virus, there is, however, a flipside to this difficult time:
For a long time, we’ve believed SERIOUS ACTION is needed to stop global biodiversity losses. Yes, NGOs like ours must continue our work to protect nature.
But change is also needed at the highest levels – at the core of government, and at the heart of the economy. We can’t continue to operate in a way that growth takes place at nature’s expense. These gains today will carry a heavy toll for humanity tomorrow.
In our global response to COVID-19, we see that we CAN take drastic action. And we can do it quickly.
The loss of our natural world is at crisis levels too. It requires global action, in order to secure our very existence as humankind. International attempts to halt the spread of the virus therefore give us hope that we can stop our unsustainable use of what Mother Earth provides us.
At the very least, let the lessons we’re learning now not be forgotten as we move ever closer to nature’s tipping point.
Sustainable Fynbos Harvesting
Flower Valley Conservation Trust
Sustainable Harvesting Programme
When you pick fynbos sustainably, you not only protect the fynbos kingdom for future generations, you also protect the jobs of those who live by harvesting it sustainably.