The Garden Route has been identified as one of the most important conservation areas in the country in terms of biodiversity. Its sheer beauty continues to attract a major amount of local and international tourists. Often referred to as nature’s playground, the Knysna Estuary is iconic in many ways. Covering a vast area and permanently open to the sea, it is the richest in terms of estuarine biodiversity in all of South Africa, the life found above and beneath its surface is spectacular.
The adjacent Indian Ocean is show-stopping with its abundance of marine life including whales, dolphins, seals, sharks and a host of pelagic bird species which are just some of what can be seen on an Ocean Odyssey tour.
Our area of operation is a very significant one, stretching from Gericke’s Point near Sedgefield (Western Boundary) to two nautical miles off the Robberg Peninsula near Plettenberg Bay. This 54.75km (29.56 nm) stretch of coastline is considered one of the most spectacular along the South African coast and boasts soaring sandstone cliffs, rocky formations extending into the Indian Ocean, unique caves and Buffels Bay.
This area is also considered a critical area since it includes the Knysna Estuary, which is ranked above the St Lucia World Heritage site in terms of biodiversity significance. The Estuary is home to 43% of South Africa’s plant and animal life and supports rare fish species such as the Grunter, White Steenbrass, Dusky Cob and Cape Stumpnose.
The Estuary contributes some 21.6% of the total economic value of the 249 national estuaries. So conserving it will draw South Africa a step closer to achieving its set national biodiversity targets. Research confirmed the Knysna estuary’s total economic value was approximately between 2.8 and 3.4 billion per annum making it is easy to understand why the Estuary is the lifeblood of many subsistence fishers and numerous recreational activities.
This area is also very significant since it forms part of the Garden Route National park, an area that spans 121 000 hectares and includes the existing Wilderness and Tsitsikamma National Parks, the Knysna Lakes area and 52 000 Hectares of newly proclaimed land. (Gazetted March 2009)