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Coega rolled-out its second Plant Rescue Initiative - published 30 Sep 2021

PLANT RESCUE: Graham Taylor, CDC Trade Facilitation Manager, in zone 2 of the Coega SEZ development site with learners from Douglas Mbopa High School.

Coega rolled-out its second Plant Rescue Initiative

Gqeberha, 30 September 2021 – Douglas Mbopa High School took up the opportunity on Wednesday, 29 September 2021, to rescue indigenous plants from a site within the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which is earmarked for development, and established an indigenous garden at their school in Motherwell. This is a City Sustainability Initiative by the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) through the Coega Development Foundation (CDF) to promote indigenous gardening and the supports of biodiversity, said Graham Taylor, CDC Trade Facilitation Manager.

We are very excited and thankful for the relationship formed today with Coega and believe that our school can be the future site that can be used by Coega for more planting of indigenous plants. Furthermore, we have learnt so much in relation to the importance of indigenous plants in our ecosystem, and have plans to rope in our surrounding communities in initiatives of this nature”, said Ms Sindy Mali, Educator & Convener: Environmental Committee, Douglas Mbopa High School.

The City Sustainability Initiative puts emphasis on sharing the Coega SEZ green infrastructure approach. Prior to developing any industrial site, a representative sample of vegetation is removed for conservation purposes. Thereafter, vegetation is made available to the public, institutions, and SEZ enterprises for indigenous gardening, through the Coega Plant Rescue Project.

PLANTING AN INDIGENOUS GARDEN: Owam Jongola, a 17-year-old learner in grade 10 from Douglas Mbopa High School.

Owam Jongola had the following sentiments to share, “I am grateful for this exciting opportunity we took part in because I had only seen these indigenous plants on the textbook, and having to see them on the real eye is such a wonderful experience. In addition, being of attendance to this initiative is beneficial to me because I have already established a garden at home and have been exposed to all the necessary skills and knowledge regarding the maintenance of a good indigenous garden.

Graham Taylor highlighted that, “the departure point for the Coega Plant Rescue project - focused on schools neighboring the SEZ - is the principle that no plants may be collected from the wild.

Indigenous plants can only be purchased from accredited nurseries or acquired through formal Plant Rescue programs such as those run by the CDF. Proof of ethical acquisition is mandatory. Secondly, we focus on common, easily grown species, within an ethnobotanical context (e.g. Portulacaria afra (Porkbush, Spekboom (Afrikaans), iGqwanitsha (Xhosa)). Thirdly, we provide guidance on schoolyard soil health by providing an overview of the climate, geology, soils and natural processes of the Albany Thicket vegetation unit. Finally, we focus on how thicket gardens conserve water, are low maintenance and mitigate climate change”.

The initiative is demonstrating that ethnobotanical interventions with local schools yield impressive outcomes in biodiversity conservation. For more information on the Coega Plant Rescue project, please visit our website at http://www.coega.co.za or send an email to [email protected]

“Douglas Mbopa is an excellent example of a school where learners understand the importance of investing time, getting high returns, and saving for biodiversity and sustainable development. The CDC is encouraged by the enthusiasm which learners have for outdoor-based learning experiences which are able to relate classroom based tuition to working with nature in providing biodiversity benefits for the school. We look forward to seeing how the school will rank in the City Sustainability challenge which will be formally launched over the next few weeks. The City Sustainability challenge is a CDC initiative aimed at recognizing the efforts of institutions and the public in terms of developing biodiversity assets from Coega SEZ related activities”, concluded Graham Taylor.

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