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08 Dec 2017

Bodyguards of the green belt

Elana Geist (North Coast Courier) Picture: Representatives of the Sibaya Coastal Precinct Conservation Trust, from left, Nonhlanhla Khoza, Dr Richard Kinvig and Dayalan Chetty.

 The Sibaya Coastal Precinct Conservation Trust will be tasked with rehabilitating, maintaining, protecting and preserving the green belt. 

?As the massive Sibaya Coastal Precinct steams ahead, Tongaat Hulett has put together a group of environmental warriors to protect the precious emerald belt running behind Umdloti.

The Sibaya Coastal Precinct Conservation Trust will be tasked with rehabilitating, maintaining, protecting and preserving the green belt, which is one of the big draw cards of the newly developed precinct that stretches over 1000 hectares of beach, forest, river and hilltop landscape.

Of this space, up to 60 percent will remain coastal dune forest.

Tongaat Hulett developments executive Dayalan Chetty said the Hawaan forest and a series of smaller, inter-connected dune forests form a 308 hectare band.

“This forest is a vital regional asset and will be maintained, protected and preserved along with the beaches, marine conservancies, wetlands and other open spaces rehabilitated by the Trust which has officially been registered,” said Chetty.

“The Trust will serve a critical role in ensuring that ongoing commercial activity on the site takes place in an environmentally sensitive, responsible and sustainable manner.

“It will ensure that there are no compromises on our promise to provide an engaging yet responsible and sustainable solution in making the forest accessible.”

Under the expert penmanship of Dr Richard Kinvig – a well-respected ecologist – a conservation management plan has been created to be used in line with the development’s activities.

Hectares of coastal dune forest will be preserved, protected and rehabilitated in posterity at Sibaya Coastal Precinct.

“We are still in the planning phase, but our goals include: conserving indigenous biodiversity, eradication of alien species, providing ecosystem goods and services in the form of carbon sequestration, storm water attenuation and adding value to a developed area in the form of “green lungs” which add lifestyle value to the surrounding communities and to provide nature based recreation and environmental education opportunities, such as walking and running trails, botanizing, bird watching, cycling trails in non-sensitive areas and environmental education,” said Dr Kinvig, who has been involved in over 200 projects within the environmental field and is one of the trust’s board members.

The trust will be a self-sustaining entity funded by existing and new investors or developers within the Sibaya Coastal Precinct.

A levy has been implemented as well as a stabilisation fund to ensure the Conservation Trust’s longevity and sustainability in fulfilling its mandate. The trustees include six representatives in total, four of whom are from Tongaat Hulett and two members from the Sibaya Precinct Master Management Association.

 Stretching from the Umdloti side, the Sibaya Coastal Precincts natural assets will be unlocked for residents and visitors to explore for the first time.