Park Of Unity – Inspired by Cornwall’s Eden Project

Inspired by Cornwall’s Eden Project.

The vision of the Grabouw Park of Unity Project arose out of a desperate need to: combat growing unemployment, enable DAFF to introduce community-based and sustainable forestry to the Valley and preserve the threatened Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve – of which the town of Grabouw is the epicentre.

When the Forestry Exit Policy was introduced from 2001 (to be completed by 2020) many thousands of jobs were lost in the region. The denuding of the Buffer Zone of the Biosphere has also had many negative spin-offs. The Buffer Zone is now paper thin and the Core of the Biosphere is threatened: runaway fires are the order of the day; cattle are grazed deep into the buffer zone; firewood is no longer readily available – fynbos is the alternative; land invasions have taken place on clear-felled land; the uncontrolled harvesting of fynbos is increasing rapidly with each passing season; without industry policing the buffer zone many areas have become a free-for-all for hunters, scramblers and quad-bikes.

While huge efforts are undertaken to remove alien plant species from the catchment areas and the Core of the Biosphere, this will not save the Biosphere if the Buffer Zone is totally destroyed. The needs of most of the residents of Grabouw town are those of survival. Conservation is not part of the vocabulary of someone who is wondering where their next meal is coming from.

The Grabouw Park of Unity is, in part, loosely based on the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK – focussing on the Mediterranean Biome and the Environmental Educational aspects of the project. The Grabouw Park of Unity will not only demonstrate the sustainability of Man and Biosphere but will also be the training ground for activities appropriate to the Buffer Zone of the Biosphere. This will indirectly cause conservation by meeting the human needs of this sprawling and decaying town with a rapidly growing population.

Planned features for the Grabouw Park of Unity include:

FORESTRY
Perfect for protecting the buffer zone of the biosphere. Non-invasive species that are fast growing and good for harvesting for construction timber are preferable.

FYNBOS HARVESTING
Corridors of fynbos are planned between the lowlands and highlands of the forestry trails. This will allow small birds to move freely around the park, unhindered by the trees.

BEES
The Cape Fynbos is the smallest but most rich floral kingdom in the world and it wouldn’t be here without bees. Research facilities will be installed to enable deeper knowledge of how to protect the bees and preserve the future of the floral kingdom

A FOREST OF REMEMBRANCE
A place for scattering ashes of our departed love ones and planting trees in their memory. This is an environmentally friendly way forward.

A RECYCLING PLANT
An area will be set aside alongside the current transfer station for recycling

MUSEUM AND CONFERENCE CENTRE
A space for research, development, teaching and discovery

BIRD SANCTUARY
Building on the opportunity created by the sewage works (which attracts birds)

NURSERY
Promoting the fynbos of this valley to locals and visitors alike and to educate all. The use of fynbos in the creation of low maintenance gardens will also be encouraged. More importantly, seedbanks will be created to help propagate fynbos in the Buffer Zone for medicinal, decorative and other harvesting purposes. The forestry section of the nursery will be vital for the return to forestry of this valley and should include species ready for planting out as well as species to be used for trials. A close working relationship with the Forestry Faculty of Stellenbosch is envisaged – with an emphasis on non-invasive hybrids to include species for multiple uses.

RECREATION SPACE
Including: Mountain Bike Park, Zipline, Eco-friendly Golf Course, River Meander Walking Trail

The Grabouw park of Unity (GPOU) should not be seen in isolation – but is part of a combined vision, Grabouw Vision 2020, being introduced by the Grabouw Beautiful Campaign designed to reverse the present negative trend and put Grabouw onto a positive and sustainable footing. Much of the research was done by the Development Bank of South Africa when the Grabouw Sustainability Initiative was launched in 2005. This initiative has been developed and improved by the Grabouw Beautiful Campaign, with the Grabouw Park of Unity seen as the flagship project. The Grabouw Vision 2020 is being widely workshopped among all sectors of the Grabouw community.

Other projects include: the new Community Retail Centre with easy access to the majority of Grabouw’s residents; the Klein Begin Skills Development Centre; a central Sports Centre; the re-organising and re-energising of Grabouw’s Transport System; a Town Renewal and Riverfront Project.

These projects, combined with the Park of Unity, will establish Grabouw as a prime tourist destination, creating many investment opportunities and massive job creation – with the tourism industry (already on the increase) established as a major new driving force.

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