“Biodiversity is the food we eat, the water we drink, and it is also the air we breathe. More than that, biodiversity is part of us, as we humans are part of nature.” ~ Dr. Cristiana Paşca-Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity
Why should anyone care about the loss of nature? Why should the country take drastic steps, to halt the decline in biodiversity? South Africa’s economy is still very reliant on mining resources. While many livelihoods depend on this sector, for many communities living close to mines, it means facing the adverse health impacts that stem from a heavily degraded environment.
On Sunday, 22 May 2021 it is International Day for Biological Diversity with the theme “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”. Tshikovha Green and Climate Change Advocates has been working with local communities near major mining sites to help establish biodiversity management programmes to mitigate the impact of mining and mining waste.
“The South African mining sector has been a major threat to our biodiversity, putting ecologically sensitive and biologically rich environments at risk,” says Moudy Mudzielwana, founding director at Tshikovha Green and Climate Change Advocates. “We know that the direct human health impacts from mining are lung, kidney, and heart disease, mostly resulting from poor air quality. A loss in biodiversity from mining can result in the inability for the natural environment to recycle clean drinking water as well supporting a productive food system; two pivotal human needs. Our very own basic survival should be a key motivator to protect our biodiversity.”
“Unfortunately mining rehabilitation is not enforced enough with stringent regulations and monitoring, to ensure that mined areas are restored to a better state,” says Mudzielwana.
Within the municipality of Emalahleni alone, there are 69 mines operating, totalling approximately 3000 hectares of disturbed natural environment, this is equivalent to more than 4200 soccer fields. The increased mining activities in Ogies and Phola in Emalahleni Mpumalanga, has forced people to move away from the area and the decline in the diversity of plant and animal life around the area has not been addressed yet.
“Understanding the devastating impacts of mining on human health and biodiversity, we at Tshikovha Green and Climate Change Advocates are working closely with these communities and young graduates from the areas to identify and establish biodiversity management programmes to rehabilitate the area.
“We are striving to help the communities’ small businesses and young graduates to focus on business opportunities that have a positive environmental angle, with particular focus on rehabilitating the environment around mining operations,” shares Mudzielwana.
“We are encouraging more mining houses and individuals to invest in the future by planting trees and making waste bins and education materials available for the greater awareness programme in Emalahleni Municipality,” says Mudzielwana.
To stay up to date with Tshikovha Green and Climate Change Advocates and their work within Emalahleni Municipality, visit their website; www.climateadvocates.co.za