WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) very proudly awarded the International Eco-Centre Award to six eco-centres in the Western Cape in July. The eco-centres that have been awarded for 2013 / 2014 are Mike Woods Environmental Education Centre in the Helderberg Nature Reserve (Somerset West), False Bay Nature Reserve (Rondevlei), Zandvlei Nature Reserve (Steenberg), Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre in the Tygerberg Nature Reserve (Durbanville), Edith Stephens Nature Reserve (Philippi) and the Simonsberg Environmental Education Centre of the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy (Stellenbosch).
This award is only given to eco-centres that are registered with WESSA and that meet the strict criteria set by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) based in Denmark. The International Eco-Centres and Eco-Schools Programmes have been implemented in South Africa by WESSA since 2003 and are funded nationally by Nampak and PetroSA.
Each year the WESSA Eco-Centres are assessed on their sustainable practices and Environmental Education programmes. They are required to submit a portfolio of evidence that showcases their community outreach programmes, learner experiences, environmental audits and uniquely developed eco-code of living.
All of the centres offer environmental education to schools as well as peaceful and well-preserved nature areas to be utilised and enjoyed both by the surrounding community and by people visiting from further afield.
The Mike Woods Environmental Education Centre received a Double Bronze Award following 11years of commitment to the Eco-Centres programme. They are one of a handful of reserves in the country to have achieved this status. The centre’s Environmental Education officer, Yongama Mbangezeli, proudly received the award on behalf of the centre.
Whilst each of the eco-centres honoured by the International Eco-Centre Awards can boast many achievements some of the highlights for 2013/2014 include: False Bay Nature Reserve’s sustainable technology practices and green architecture; Zandvlei Nature Reserve’s bird hides and well-maintained grounds; Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre’s beautiful educational displays and historic building; Edith Stephens Nature Reserve’s nursery and new outdoor classroom; and Simonsberg Environmental Education Centre’s indigenous garden and the interactive biodiversity element.
A total of nine City of Cape Town nature reserves and two private environmental education centres have shown their commitment to registering their Eco-Centres for the next 2014 / 2015 round of the International Eco-Centre Awards. The public is encouraged to visit the City’s reserves for more information and to support their efforts by using them for school outings and family days.