THE BEACHWOOD MANGROVES
SAVING THE BEACHWOOD MANGROVES
Extreme high seas during August and September 2022 caused severe damage to the beaches and the coastal sand dunes all along the Kwa-Zulu Natal coastline, and in particular, in and around the area of the Umgeni River Estuary, and the Beachwood Mangrove Forest Reserve, just north of Durban, South Africa.
The Beachwood mangroves and the marine wildlife within the reserve are completely reliant on the intertidal exchange of seawater and the accompanying nutrients for survival.
The coastal sand dunes were severely eroded and disrupted by the extreme high seas, and the sand dunes in this specific area were completely washed over and the sand was pushed into the riverine estuary and into the mangrove forest area, effectively obstructing the interconnecting Beachwood Mangrove Creek and completely cutting it off from the river and from the ocean and from the critically necessary tidal exchange.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), and the eThekwini Council were all concerned about the situation, and they called on the South African Association for Marine and Biological Research (SAAMBR), and the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI), and the CSIR for an urgent professional environmental evaluation, to understand the seriousness of the situation and to advise on possible strategies and solutions.
SAAMBR, ORI and CSIR confirmed that without the critical link to the ocean and the necessary tidal exchange, the mangroves and the wildlife living in the mangrove forest were suffering heavily and were in the process of dying.
More than one in six mangrove species worldwide are in danger of extinction as a result of a number of factors, including coastal development, over population, plastic pollution, untreated sewage, toxic chemicals, climate change, logging and agriculture, to name a few.
We have already lost over half of the world’s original mangrove forest areas, estimated at 32 million hectares (approx. 80 million acres).
Mangroves are some of the most important ecosystems on the planet and they are incredible carbon sinks, sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere than any of their terrestrial counterparts, and globally we just cannot allow the catastrophic loss of any more of these critically important and threatened natural environments.
In the absence of an immediate strategy and a basic capability among the various parties present to find a solution, Oceans Alive Conservation Trust were invited to join the team to also make an assessment of the situation.
The enormous amount of sand which needed to be excavated in order to dig the predetermined channels to re-connect the Beachwood Mangrove Creek to the riverine estuary, and ultimately to the ocean, and then also attempt to move the excavated sand and re-build the dune barrier, seemed like a massively expensive exercise and an almost impossible task.
The mangroves and the wildlife were in serious crisis and time was the enemy, so only a massive emergency effort using massive heavy-duty excavating and earthmoving equipment would be able to save the day.
One call from Oceans Alive Conservation Trust to the Teichmann Group for urgent assistance was received with enthusiasm, generosity and tremendous grace, and on visiting the site, without hesitation, they agreed to assist us with the huge heavy-duty earth moving excavator which was essential to take on this massive operation successfully.
Morgado Plant Hire also responded graciously with lowbed transport assistance, and transport permits, and with a huge front-end loader which would move the excavated sand away from the channels and attempt to re-build the sand dune barrier to try and protect the mangroves from future rough seas.
Oceans Alive Conservation Trust agreed to sponsor the expected heavy cost of the project together with the very gracious assistance received from Teichmann Group and Morgado Plant Hire.
All parties were briefed, the strategy was agreed, the necessary environmental permits were arranged, and the huge earth moving machines were moved onto the beach at the Virginia Airport access point, with the help and the very kind assistance of eThekwini Parks, who had to trim some large overhanging trees on the access road so that the massive machines could reach the beach entry point.
The machines were driven the 4.5 km south on the beach to the river estuary site where everyone started working together with our Oceans Alive and Adopt-a-River teams, and our supervisory support network, to intervene and reopen, and reconnect the Beachwood Mangrove Creek to the estuary and the ocean, as a matter of extreme urgency to prevent further irreversible damage and loss.
With everyone working together, it took a monumental effort and only 5 dedicated days for the teams to re-connect the Beachwood Mangrove Creek to the riverine estuary, and ultimately to the ocean, to return the natural flow of water to and from the ocean and restore the tidal exchange, and ultimately 'Save the Beachwood Mangroves'.
This project could not have been undertaken successfully without assistance from Teichmann Group, Morgado Plant Hire and all the individuals involved, and the amazing dedication of the Ezemvelo Durban North Honorary Officers.
The project was a huge success, thanks to everyone who came together, 'stronger together' to make this possible.
PLEASE COME AND VISIT
This critical environmental emergency project required massive heavy-duty earthmoving equipment, professional machine operators, specialized on-site project and safety management teams, as well as all the supporting heavy-duty transport logistics, special permits, diesel fuel, night-time security, and more, all of which came at a heavy cost.
Oceans Alive Conservation Trust committed to the sponsorship of the costs and the management of this project, together with our gracious support partners to save the Beachwood Mangroves and save the wildlife.
There was absolutely no availability of any funding, or any operational assistance from the government, or from the local municipality for this project.
We humbly requested business and the public to support and contribute towards the extensive costs of this critical conservation effort which ended up being well over R350,000.00.
This does not include the amount of funding which will be required to rehabilitate and re-plant the sand dune barrier and continue plastic and other pollution clean-ups which are ongoing to secure the future of the Beachwood Mangrove Forest.
A dedicated Oceans Alive Conservation Trust bank account was opened specifically to support donations for this emergency environmental rescue operation.
Subject to qualification, Corporate Social Responsibility donations may be awarded a SARS Section 18A Tax Certificate in South Africa.
This program continues so that contributions and donations towards assisting us to recover the costs of this ongoing conservation effort can still be made and will be greatly appreciated.
Dedicated project bank account details for 'eft' payment contributions and donations...
FIRST NATIONAL BANK
Oceans Alive Conservation Trust - Saving The Beachwood Mangroves
Dedicated Account Number: 63022056518
Commercial Account Services
Branch Code: 210554
SWIFT Code: FIRNZAJJ
Oceans Alive Conservation Trust is a Registered Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organization
Non-Profit Organization Registration No. 2019/534595/08
Public Benefit Organization (Section 18A) Reference No. 930067816
Income Tax Reference No. 9443698197
VAT Registration No. 4160289023
CSD Supplier No. MAAA0968460
FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN ON GIVENGAIN : https://www.givengain.com/cc/saving-the-beachwood-mangroves
OCEANS ALIVE CONSERVATION TRUST
Caring for our Oceans and Coastal Environments through Research, Conservation, Protection, Community Awareness, Social Upliftment, Education and Global Action.
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