As a child, I knew I wanted to protect the environment. This dream remained constant throughout my life and although it proved to be challenging as a student of BSc Zoology, with constant deadlines and sleepless nights of studying, the passion remained strong. My dream started to materialise in 2021 when I was selected for a marine internship based in Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape. It was there that I realized, in order to save the environment, I needed to save the people. If people are better equipped with knowledge and inclusion then mindsets can change, resulting in positive attitudes and outlooks towards conservation. Whilst being in Saldanha Bay, I noticed that local communities valued the ocean as it has been a source of livelihood for many generations and had an eagerness to learn and preserve their oceans and environment.
Working at WWF has been a milestone achievement that has turned a dream into reality. As the South African Marine Protected Area Network (SAMPAN) Co-ordinator, I strive to strike a balance between protecting the marine environment and its precious species as well as creating better opportunities for local community to benefit from the resources and experiences Marine Protected Areas (MPA) provide.
A critical part of this balance is hosting the annual MPA Forum which was initiated by WWF in 2007. The forum focuses on stakeholders in the South African MPA sector in order to improve communication, management and capacitating of MPA staff. This year’s forum will be held on the 15th,16th and 17th of November at Hoedjiesbaai Hotel in Saldanha Bay. We hope to tackle past priority concerns that have been brought up in previous forums, by sitting together and discussing practical solutions to these challenges, and new ones we may face. As you may all know, team work makes the dream work. It takes all hands to make this dream of happy people and planet a reality. At this year’s forum we will also showcase community engagement success stories and research that has been done with regards to the sector.
Jade Garridigan, SAMPAN Co-ordinator at WWF South Africa