Plastic Pollution is the Modern Landscape.
They are everywhere. In parks, along the beach, in the dunes and lining forest paths.
Trash has become an everyday sighting. In a country that boasts robust and healthy wildlife populations you have more chance of seeing a discarded single use plastic water or beverage bottle than you have of seeing a Bushbuck on a forest trail.
On a beach in the Garden Route you will fill up a bag with trash before you will see a pod of dolphins.
With disturbing frequency the items collected are the same, the Dirty Dozen, a gang of single use items that we use with mindless addiction.
A combination of convenience and perceived hygiene entice the bulk of humanity to be complicit in the exponential degradation of our environment.
A decade ago our plastic pollution was beyond our aesthetic range. Today it is on our doorstep, in our recreational zones.
Plastic pollution, while choking our waterways and destroying our ecology, morphed into ‘white noise’ that sneaked beyond our cognitive perception.
Plogging has become a past time.
Yet, with growing proliferation it is being brought to our attention. Plogging, the process of collecting trash while jogging, has become an activity. Social media challenges of trash cleanups are rampant. A simple beach walk ends up as a trash collecrion exercise. No one is exempt from plastic pollution.
Modern societies have forgotten what a clean environment is. Imperceptibly we have traded a natural system for a degraded trashpit.
Oceans have been our dumping grounds for decades. Plastic convenience has flowed down rivers and over the horizon.
Changing Tides on Plastic Pollution.
But the tides have changed and and the trash is returning to our shorelines, indiscriminately killing marine life on its relentless voyage to our beaches.
In an effort to understand the plastic journey from user to shoreline, a team of six conservationists in the Strandloper Project coastal expedition will hike 160km along the shoreline between Blombos and Wilderness in the Garden Route.
CyberTracker to record plastic pollution.
The team will be surveying and mapping lost fishing gear and plastic pollution along the hike.
Using a CyberTracker app to collect data of colour, size, original use and current condition of plastic pollution, we hope to map points of entry of plastic into the environment so that more effective controls can be formulated to mitigate future pollution.
The app will also be used to document marine life entangled and killed by both plastic pollution and fishing debris.
While we will survey all plastic pollution, focus will be placed on the ‘Dirty Dozen’. Actually the list is of 15 of the most common plastic items recovered on beach cleanups.
The aim of the Strandloper Project coastal expedition is to arm local municipalities, conservation authorities and environmental agencies with concise information to formulate protocols to prevent future environmental and marine degradation.
Our plan is ambitious, but it needs to be done. Communities in the Southern Cape rely on the ecological services of our rivers and ocean to survive and every effort needs to be made to clean up and secure a healthy future.
Expedition Logistics :
- Start date : 14th May 2019
- Route : Blombos to Wilderness
- Duration : 10 to 12 days
- Team size : 6
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