Eco heroes recognised for saving Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve

THIS year, Durban came close to losing a portion of the Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve.

Heavy sea swells and storm surges wreaked havoc on the 76-hectare reserve, posing a threat to its wildlife and its mangroves (black and white mangroves).

The movement to save the reserve led to the formation of a Multi-Agency Task Team (MATT) project which included various stakeholders.
Environmental organisation, Oceans Alive, alongside the eThekwini Municipality, the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), The Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI), the North Durban Honorary Officers and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife came together to save the mangroves.

Over the course of several days, plans were set in motion to open up the creek to the reserve that had been covered in sand to recreate the inter-tidal relationship with the Umgeni River.

Teichmann Civils and Morgado Plant Hire provided the earth-moving equipment while Marshall Security provided the security.

On Saturday, the honorary officers held an appreciation lunch for all the roleplayers involved in the project to save the reserve.

Many of those involved in the project received a plaque of appreciation and a certificate recognising their efforts, including Tim Baker, a drone pilot, who helped with aerial footage of the rescue operation.

Santosh Bachoo, regional marine ecologist at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said this project was the best way to save the mangroves’ fauna and flora.

“It is incredible to see the transformation we achieved collectively. Everyone rose to the challenge to save the mangroves. Their efforts effectively put into place mechanisms that will save what we, as Ezemvelo and the honorary officers, have been protecting all these years. I must praise the fantastic teamwork and support from all involved. I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done,” he said.

CEO of Oceans Alive Colin Levin said the project to save the mangroves reserve was the embodiment of the phrase ‘stronger together’.

“We could not afford to lose this truly amazing and critically necessary marine reserve due to its huge environmental importance to the whole of Durban, as it is a Natural Monument. We are extremely pleased to have achieved success with this massive project in such a short space of time, thanks to a very committed and very gracious team effort. Educating and creating awareness in the community about the importance of mangrove ecosystems is vital as the mangroves serve as an important nursery for many species of fish. Mangroves are unique and just as important as coral reefs and tropical rain forests,” he said.