Human survival versus environmental protection
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.