The Plum Foundation is strenuously working to protect South African biodiversity and ecological patrimony through a combined set of collaborations with local NGO's, scientific research programs and community based conservation projects. We are especially proud to contribute in the conservation of the world renowned Nature’s Valley - Tsitsikamma National Park. The Nature’s Valley Trust is a small community-driven NPO working at the cutting edge of integrated conservation in South Africa. With a holistic approach to people and the environment, NVT operates in four main arenas, namely conservation, education, community engagement and research.
NVT has set up research partnerships with SANParks,
CapeNature, BirdLife Plettenberg Bay, and several national and international universities. Its scientific staff run long-term ecological monitoring projects that enable to better understand the environment of the area. The data collected from these research programs are fed directly into local conservation authorities and aid them in their efforts to ensure the long-term ecological integrity of the area.
Marine and Coastal Programme: on either side of Nature’s Valley and Plettenberg Bay are two marine protected areas, signifying the high ecological importance of marine biodiversity in the area. At the same time, the region is used extensively for tourism, and recreational fishing is a popular leisure activity. With growing tourism numbers, conflict with coastal biodiversity is bound to happen. The NVT research team runs several important research projects to enable a better understanding of tourism’s impact on coastal ecosystems. This understanding allows better management to ensure the responsible use and long-term availability of these resources for all.
River and Esturaries Programme: the aim of NVT’s rivers and estuaries programme is to develop a source-to-sea understanding of the Salt (East) and Groot (West) River systems and to conserve these systems. Both are considered to be of high importance. The Salt River is home to several yet unnamed freshwater invertebrate species which have been a subject of research in collaboration with Rhodes University, while the Groot River is one of the most pristine systems in the province and is home to two near-threatened and endemic fish species (Eastern Cape Redfin and the Cape Kurper).
The Cape Estuaries Programme is a provincial government initiative working with local authorities, government organisations, non-government organisations and civil society to establish estuary management forums in the province. To this end, the NVT was a key partner in the establishment of the Salt River and Groot River Estuary Forum.
Forest Programme: South Africa’s Forest biome is the smallest biome within the country, covering less than 0,25% of the country’s land surface. This biome is classified as one of the most vulnerable biomes on the sub-continent due to its high level of fragmentation and small extent of occurrence. The beautiful Afro-temperate forests that occur within the Southern Cape region make up a large portion of this percentage. As Nature’s Valley occurs in the heart of this region and is surrounded by a large expanse of beautiful indigenous forest, Nature’s Valley Trust has established a forest programme.
This programme is aimed at researching, conserving and restoring the Southern Cape Afro-temperate Forests that occur in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP), especially in areas that fall outside the protected area. The programme activities are enacted at the newly declared Hebron Private Nature Reserve (PNR) where NVT staff are conducting various biodiversity assessments as well as managing the reserve.
Fynbos Programme: the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is an ecosystem unique to South Africa. It is recognised as one of the six floral kingdoms of the world and, given its biodiversity and potential high level of endism, has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a major tourist attraction, the CFR contributes significantly to the economy of South Africa, and many communities surrounding the CFR depend on this income. In addition, quite a number of fynbos species are used by local communities for medicinal purposes – a practice that goes hand-in-hand with a wealth of traditional knowledge in itself unique to these communities. To help safeguard this treasure, the NVT contributes significantly to research on and creating community awareness around southern Cape Fynbos.
Urban Programme: good urban planning and the conservation of green spaces within urban environments can enable humans and biodiversity to co-exist. NVT supports and guides action on the ground with innovative and simple solutions to problems that affect all. Additionally, it bridges the gap between urban communities, government structures and formally protected areas. One of NVT’s key goals is the integration of conservation education and community involvement as a key priority for all its projects. The organisation recognises the need for complex conservation issues to be inclusive, taking positive and proactive approaches to include communities in seeking solutions to the impact they have on local biodiversity.