Hu­man sur­vival ver­sus en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion

Northern Eyethu - - NEWS • IZINDABA - Tam­lyn Jolly

AS we gear up to cel­e­brate the fes­tive sea­son, and our re­gion gets ready to host visi­tors from far and wide, there are some im­por­tant en­vi­ron­men­tal warn­ings that ev­ery­one – tourists and lo­cals alike – is urged to heed.

The sale of the ‘ up­side down’ trees of Dukuduku have made head­lines nu­mer­ous times in re­cent years, yet the prob­lem per­sists.

In this is­sue we see yet an­other plea from our pro­vin­cial en­vi­ron­men­tal author­ity for peo­ple to stop buy­ing these trees from the road­side sell­ers.

From an en­vi­ron­men­tal per­spec­tive, the de­for­esta­tion caused so buy­ers can en­joy a ‘ novel’ Christ­mas tree, is dev­as­tat­ing.

These are the roots of the pro­tected Red­heart tree, which are hacked and burnt out of the ground and sold to passersby.

As the en­vi­ron­men­tal author­ity said, this is not a by- prod­uct of agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment, it is, quite sim­ply, tear­ing down the nat­u­ral, in­dige­nous en­vi­ron­ment for money.

On the other hand, when we con­sider it from an eco­nomic per­spec­tive, times are tough for ev­ery­one and ev­ery­one needs to find a way to feed them­selves and their fam­i­lies.

This then leaves us caught be­tween a rock and a hard place.

Do we re­sign our­selves to the fact that peo­ple come first and the en­vi­ron­ment, whether pro­tected or not, will ul­ti­mately suf­fer so peo­ple can sur­vive?

Or do we ac­tively po­lice the laws that are in place to pro­tect our en­vi­ron­ment, such as the likes of the Dukuduku For­est which is a shadow of its for­mer self?

We see the same thing at Sod­wana Bay, where lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties have been blamed for de­mol­ish­ing the nat­u­ral for­est within part of the iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park.

High­light­ing these en­vi­ron­men­tal catas­tro­phes through the me­dia – both so­cial and con­ven­tional – must be done, but when will the rel­e­vant author­i­ties stand up and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­forc­ing their own rules and laws?

Get­ting back to the sale of goods brought about through en­vi­ron­men­tal dev­as­ta­tion, such as the ‘ up­side down’ trees from Dukuduku, the only way we as a com­mu­nity can fight the loom­ing catas­tro­phe is to cease to sup­port the sell­ers.

Even those of us who do not sup­port it can be proac­tive in ed­u­cat­ing the gen­eral pub­lic – our guests - about where these trees come from and why they should not be bought.

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