Knysna Basin Project
Knysna Basin Project
The KBP is a collaborative conservation research and education programme devoted to South Africa's premier estuarine system, the Knysna estuarine bay, set both within a populous and growing municipal area and within the Garden Route National Park.
The 18 km2 Knysna estuarine bay, popularly known as the Knysna Lagoon, on the Indian Ocean coast of the Western Cape, South Africa (34º02'S,23º02'E), is ranked top of that country's 250+ estuarine systems as a conservation priority (on a basket of measures including biodiversity), and it contains South Africa's largest remaining area of seagrass (>50% of the national total, mostly of the vulnerable and threatened Cape dwarf-eelgrass) and its second-largest area of salt marsh (>15% of the total). Knysna, however, is also one of the most popular coastal tourist destinations in South Africa; has recently seen the construction of several marina and golf-course developments; has a population - growing at 3% per annum - of >60,000 people living around it; and has been subject to considerable reclamation. Once it was the major processing centre and outlet port for timber from the adjacent Knysna temperate rainforests (home of Africa's most southerly elephants).
Operating from two small field stations, the Knysna Basin Project, conducted by a team from the Zoology Departments of Rhodes University in South Africa and of the University of Cambridge, and on an ad hoc basis from other universities, has the aims of:
(i) undertaking research to advance scientific understanding of how the system functions, of how its very high biodiversity is distributed and maintained, and of the extent to which it is being affected by inputs and by peripheral development, and
(ii) encouraging effective conservation of its biodiversity by
(a) making this research and other relevant knowledge available in accessible form to the local population (including in its schools) so as to increase public awareness and appreciation of its value to the community and of how that may be maintained, and
(b) providing relevant scientific input to the responsible management authority, the South African National Parks Board, and to the wider scientific literature.