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29 Jul 2016 00:00
Defending Diepsloot: Gekco's 2014 wetland clean-up in Diepsloot was an operation to help keep the waterways clear of litter and pollutants. (Photo: Perfect Directions)
Greater Kyalami Conservancy (Gekco) Green Neighbourhood Project
Winner: Community Conservation Award
“The focus of the Green Neighbourhood Project is encouraging co-operation and community participation in conservation, planning and management of the greater Kyalami area in collaboration with neighbouring communities, municipal and provincial entities,” says Kristin Kallesen, chairperson of the Greater Kyalami Conservancy (Gekco).
The conservancy, founded in 2006, launched the Neighbourhood Project in 2012 in a bid to actively engage with the local community for the greater good of the environment.
“It’s only through involving the community and actively fostering community enthusiasm and conviction for the protection of environment that responsible social and environmental development can occur,” says Kallesen.
The project identifies endangered and pressured species in the area and works on protecting wetlands, ridges, specialised habitats and corridors where these species are found. This is especially pertinent in an area that is threatened with increasing development.
The project works hand-in-hand with the Diepsloot community, and has engaged with Bontle ke Tlhago, a Diepsloot community co-operative, in a pilot recycling scheme.
Since 2012 there have also been Mandela Day cleanups of the Jukskei River and streets in Diepsloot together with City of Johannesburg Region A, Metro Police, Gauteng Roads and Transport, Gauteng Agriculture and Rural Development, Pikitup and Diepsloot environmental and business forums.
Talks have also been initiated concerning dedicated bicycle lanes along William Nicol Road (R511), and plans are afoot to assist Diepsloot businesses to market their products within the Kyalami community.
“At heart, the Green Neighbourhood Project requires a commitment from residents to a vision of sustainability, which is achievable through co-operation,” says Kallesen. “The community is encouraged to participate in the development planning process through submission of a community plan or vision, to be considered in the Integrated Development Plan which forms part of the City’s Master Plan Joburg 2040 Growth and Development Strategy.”
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