#SocInnMOOC Look around you, what do you see?
A world class green urban space that has prostitution, litter, waste, pollution, rubbish, crime, and more ... a natural resource for recreation and connecting with the natural environment at no cost with free access to all ...
The uMngeni River and the estuary is my backyard. We have formed a non-profit organisation called uMngeni Estuary Conservancy (UEC). We are part of a greater group of conservancies starting within our own municipal area as the eThekwini Conservancies Forum. The area designated as that of the UEC is a section of north bank of the uMngeni estuary, a zone of approximately 3 km in length but a narrow riparian zone.
The UEC area is complex. It is a designated green open space, unfenced and allows free access to anyone who wishes to use it. The zone also comprises a trail, known as the Fish Eagle Trail. It is an amazingly beautiful space in a busy urban area. The estuary is at the receiving end of solid pollution and environmentalists try desperately to prevent the waste from entering the Indian Ocean.
Yet many citizens are afraid to use the trail and prefer to drive past not even wanting to stop. In some instances, the river frontage would be regarded as prime property.
The area opposite the Bird Park and below the market area has the highest presence of prostitution. The toilets were removed as these were continuously vandalised and filthy.
The main resource is people in the space. People who are attracted to use the space to see the river’s beauty and experience urban nature at its best. I have listed many resources currently present that should be linked to create a vibrant hub of visitors. Physical resources exist but without people presence change cannot take place to attract users who want to connect with the natural space for recreational purposes, and an income stream for others at the same time.
Reinvigorate current infrastructure, reaffirm value of local role-players and create new projects
Utilise city structures and departments as existing resources
Coordinate and meet with role-players responsible for maintenance of the different zones in the UEC space, as possible. Clarify which department is responsible for what. Create a contact list and send to member and local newspapers.
Put together a project proposal to become a pilot project for verge projects to protect rare plant species. Connect with Lance Rasmussen of Parks, Rob Crankshaw of Conservation KZN. Put project on Conservation KZN website.
Signage - Improve signage and fix derelict signs. Confirm Environmental Planning Climate Change Protection Department offer of signage from the city stating this is a conservation area.
Create greater civic action, connect regularly with UEC members and others locally. Make and share a list of contact numbers for acting against dumping, illegal fishing, littering, dead animal department, local SAPS and Metro Police, religious communities, businesses etc.
Create new socio-economic and revitalise existing ventures within the area that utilise current facilities and focus on eco-tourism revitalisation and environmental education, cycling etc.
At the western section, of the UEC area there is the uMngeni River Bird Park owned and managed by the city as a tourist destination. Opposite the bird park is a ‘market’business area as an open space for informal traders, but licensed annually. The Bird Park itself has a derelict area which was previously leased as a nursery. On some days, the bird park is quite busy but no one seems to want to cross the road to the river or the market area. The coffee shop is inside the bird park and trades only to visitors within who have paid an entry fee. A more recent addition is a cycle track that ends at the market but continues to the beaches in the east connecting prime areas on a bicycle. The Fish Eagle Trail forms part of what is now known as the Durban Green Corridor an initiative that promotes tourism, trail runs, canoeing and cycling. The estuary is a prime birding area.
Detangling angling (fishing line dangers)
Supporting UNISA Nature Conservation students in practical assignments
And more ...