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17 Sep 2009 06:00
Special commendation—Environmental best practice for not-for-profit organisations: Delta Environmental Centre
The Delta Environmental Centre, based in Johannesburg’s Delta Park, is empowering children to become more green. The centre is popular and schools are excited about the wonderful work it is doing.
The Delta Environmental Centre (DEC) is an independent non-profit organisation that aims to enable people, specifically children of schoolgoing age, to improve the quality of their environment.
The centre’s vision is to provide education that seeks to help all learners to better understand their environment.
Projects in which the centre engages include education programmes for up to 20 000 matriculants annually, half of those sponsored by Rand Water. These projects are facilitated by the provincial and national education departments.
At schools, the DEC works with staff, governing bodies and learners to ensure that sustainable environmental projects are undertaken. At Thorisong Primary School in Secunda, for example, the DEC endorsed a project to develop an energy room for the school. The room is used as a demonstration classroom for teachers being trained at the adjacent teachers’ centre and for community training programmes.
Throughout the years DEC trainers have searched for opportunities to strengthen environmental practices within schools. Chief to most of the centre’s work has been the professional development of teachers with regard to environmental learning.
More than 50 educational institutions, including high schools and universities, are part of the Delta School Group and contribute to preserving the environment. The Delta Park Dog Walkers have removed the invasive water hyacinth from the top dam.
Professor Marcus Byrne and one of his master’s students, Naweji Katembo from Wits University’s School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, have been conducting experiments involving a combination of biological and chemical control on the alien aquatic water hyacinth on the dam in the Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary.
The DEC worked with Joburg City Parks, the Sandton Rotary Club and the Wits Bird Club, among others, in the rehabilitation of the sanctuary.
The DEC is aware of its responsibility for wise usage of resources and has policies to ensure sustainability in water use, energy use and waste management.
The centre has taken measures to preserve resources at its offices. The main foyer is fitted with energy-efficient lamps and a ‘blanket” is used to cover the urn to keep the water warmer for longer. This winter saw gas heaters replacing oil-filled electrical heaters wherever possible.
All waste is sorted and reused as teaching aids or for creative activities or recycled at the park’s recycling depot. Recycling companies collect the items regularly.
Read more from Nosimilo Ndlovu
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