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Prevent a citrus development from compromising South Africa's largest Protected Area

Prevent a citrus development from compromising South Africa's largest Protected Area

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This petition has been created by Concerned S. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
Concerned S.
started this petition to
Limpopo Environmental Authorities (LEDET)
THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE THAT HAVE SIGNED & ALL THOSE ABOUT TO! We have sent our Appeal Forms to the Department and have to wait +-10 days to hear the outcome. I'll keep everyone informed. We hope sanity prevails so that this development is stopped!

South Africa's largest intact Protected Area and its potential to expand is at risk due to LEDET (Limpopo’s Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism) authorising a citrus development.

LEDET has granted an application to develop a 120ha citrus farm next to Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR). Through this action LEDET has failed not only the Hoedspruit community, but that for which they are mandated to protect. Not only have they put the Protected Areas Network at risk by destroying the continuity of the landscapes and habitat, but they have also failed to secure a future for fauna and flora supported within the surrounding ecosystems.
This seemingly inconsequential act of approving the development severely undermines National and Provincial conservation efforts of maintaining ecosystem resilience for future climate change implications. In addition, there appears to be an apparent trend for inappropriate development applications being granted without due consideration for the real and severe impacts on the environment. Despite the environmental concerns highlighted by a group of dedicated individuals relating directly to this inappropriate citrus farm development, the development was authorised. LEDET clearly appears to be disregarding its mandate to secure an ecologically functional landscape and this is a real threat to vital ecosystem goods and services necessary for human well-being in the region. The greater consequence of this development will derail the plan of expanding the APNR to Hoedspruit and reduce the opportunity for the region to become a cornerstone for conservation.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is incorrect in claiming that the 120ha piece of land that is about to be irreversibly destroyed by planting citrus trees is not unique. Although similar land types are relatively widespread throughout the Lowveld, any damage to these areas highlights the lack of understanding of the urgency to protect these areas and keep them intact. For an ecosystem to function properly it must not be fragmented as this reduces its resilience and leads to environmental collapse. This developmental approval shows a general short-sightedness by the relevant authorities of understanding the environmental impacts of one development at a time. This cumulative effect of negative impacts is equivalent to the “death by a thousand cuts” for our environment. If similar developments are to be authorised, there will be no viable areas left to create crucial ecological networks.  

We have to start considering the bigger picture for the region. How would a citrus farm, which not only falls within a Protected Areas Buffer Zone, borders a Protected Area and an important river, but also occurs on land classified as a Critical Biodiversity Area (CBA) benefit the surrounding landscape? How will a citrus farm equip the landscape in order to survive several years of severe drought? How justifiable is it to allow for the deliberate degradation of a Protected Area through the cumulative impacts of excessive water extraction and the addition of pesticides, chemicals and other pollutants? It has been estimated that South Africa will “exceed the limits of economically viable land-based water resources by 2050” yet a water thirsty development has been approved on the Klaserie River. A mature citrus tree can use as much as 60 litres of water per day during the winter months when the water levels of the river will already be low! Just imagine its direct impact on the aquatic ecosystem and that of downstream, and not to mention the overall impact on faunal movements within the reserve. We should be asking ourselves if small scale economic gain should override the importance of protecting South Africa’s largest intact Protected Area?

There has to come a time when the importance of safeguarding our natural environment takes preference to the economic benefit of a selected few. We need to realise that no amount of economic development is going to ensure a viable environmental future unless we protect the very source that provides that future.

As a community who knows the true value of the bushveld and all that it entails, it is time you stand up to help protect it. Make your voices heard in this and future EIA’s.
Help us pressurise LEDET to suspend their authorisation after we appeal the EIA.
Let your dedication to the cause help fuel the passionate individuals who are at the forefront of safeguarding our fragile environment by preventing its destruction and fragmentation. Without your voices, inappropriate developments will destroy South Africa’s last remaining natural area. Let your dedication be the campfire stories for generations to come.