Started: Jul 1, 2008
Completed: Jun 30, 2011
The Wilderness Foundation put together the Communicating Conservation project as a means to raise environmental and conservation awareness amongst opinion leaders and decision makers.
The leaders were taken on guided wilderness trails by an experienced wilderness guide where they were given valuable information about the importance of conservation in the 21st century. The wilderness trails took place in the Eastern Cape in the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve and in the Western Cape in the Cederberg Wilderness Area, in the Cape Floristic Region.
The trails included the distribution of communication material and a conservation event hosted by the Wilderness Foundation.
Communicating Conservation helped to improve the level of awareness, and wise decision making in conservation and environmental matters by decision makers and opinion leaders.
Initial goals of the project:
- The primary goal was to take 48 opinion leaders on wilderness trails
- The purpose of the project was to influence opinion leaders from across the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) to make informed decisions that enable current initiatives to maximise conservation opportunities, sustain these gains and extend benefits to communities. The goal was to increased awareness regarding the opportunities and challenges presented by the CFR wide CAPE programme amongst influential community and government leaders.
- A total of 56 Opinion Leaders were taken on a guided and facilitated wilderness experience
- 21 Opinion Leaders participated in the 4 day/ 3 night wilderness trails, and 35 Opinion Leaders participated in 1 day wilderness trails.
- Trails were conducted in the Baviaanskloof Mega-reserve, Cederberg Wilderness Area, Groendal Wilderness Area and Table Mountain National Park
- The post trail survey has shown that the trails were being experienced in a positive light and protected area management agency officials reported the opening up of relationships with decision makers, and influencing their work once they returned from trail.
Comments from trailists:
“This experience made me realise that we constantly over consume on so many levels, on things we do not need at all and our lives are about acquiring and owning as much as we can. This simple, but profound insight is slowly life altering. I question the necessity of everything I consume, including energy and time and emotional energy spent on things and people that have a negative and meaningless influence on my existence. Our ecological footprints and the minimizing thereof is also something that I am giving more in depth thought to in my position as a Town Planner.” - Adél Stander, Oudtshoorn Municipality
“On behalf of the team that participated in this trail, I would like to express our sincere thanks and immense gratitude to the Wilderness Foundation for giving us the opportunity to share this experience. The trail provided the space to step out of our normal lives and reconnect with our natural environment. We had incredibly useful reflection sessions over the period and insightful discussions about the challenges and opportunities that our decision makers face. Our guide, Bruce, with his experience and quiet demeanour embraced our group and made the trial a memorable and educational experience." - J.S. Gouza, Programme Manager: Corridors, World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves
“Merely having to slow down and not rush from one task to the next was a challenge and forced one to contemplate and explore concepts, ideas, questions and perceptions which would otherwise be lost in the frantic daily challenge “to get things done on time”, etc. Merely having only three fixed meal times was a change which made us think about how comfortable and blasé we have become about our basic needs. Thank you once again for this opportunity which will remain a special experience which has not only enriched our lives, but it is incumbent on us to contribute to the lives of others as a result.” - Ivan Donian, Area Manager: Karoo
“I would definitely like to visit and hike the area again in future, particularly with other Opinion Leaders and colleagues. The trail highlighted the fact that we need more areas where very little human impact can be seen, and nature is allowed to 'naturally' exist in harmony.” - Charles Malherbe
“Bruce is an excellent guide. His knowledge of the area and his interaction with the team really made the experience extraordinary. The reflective space that the trail provides really revitalised me. It reminded me why I do what I do. I now actively take a step back to reflect on my work to see the potential gaps and opportunities." – Jenifer Gouza
"This trail allowed for a break away from the rushed office life and allowed me to reconnect with nature and myself on a much deeper, and new, level than ever before. It recharged me for the road ahead. I came to the realization of just how disconnected the human race has become from nature and how it is vital for other decision makers to have this physical and mental interaction with the natural environment. I realised how dependent we are on nature, even though nature can exist without us!" - Sunet Basson