Located in the Western Cape of South Africa, the Rim of Africa Mountain Passage is Africa’s longest mega-trail initiative and a globally-unique conservation venture. Since 2007, co-founders Ivan Groenhof and Galeo Saintz have continuously forged the relationships and agreements needed for the Rim of Africa to span a UNESCO World Heritage Site, government-protected wilderness areas and parks, and numerous privately-owned properties. The conversations with local landowners and relevant stakeholders have worked to create a sustainable and locally-beneficial conservation project.
The Rim of Africa Mountain Passage crosses South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region, which has been called the “world’s hottest hot-spot” for plant diversity and rarity and is recognized internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an IUCN World Centre of Plant Diversity. Within 90,000 km2, the Cape Floristic Region contains nearly 9,000 species of plants, 69% of which occur nowhere else in the world, giving it the highest species density and rarity of any non-tropical climate zone. Perilously, the region is under significant threat from human and agricultural development, freshwater industrialization, alien species invasion, and climate change. In particular, the agricultural industry has decimated the renosterveld flatlands, with only 4% of the original vegetation remaining and only 2% formally protected in conservation areas. Despite the ecological significance of this region and the importance of community involvement in its preservation, there are few resources available to local youth who want to learn about the value of their environment or relevant conservation issues and solutions. This is especially true in rural and urban disadvantaged communities.
While living in Cape Town, South Africa in early 2012, I heard about the trail, met with the co-founders Ivan Groenhof and Galeo Saintz, and knew I had to tell the story of creating and walking the Rim of Africa. I also came to realize that while this story should be told globally, it has dramatic potential for resourcing local educators and non-profits to teach youth about the environment and conservation. Without many localized resources for educators to teach about the beauty and significance of the region, there is very little ethos of conservation or environmental awareness within many poor or disadvantaged communities.
That’s what I want the Rim of Africa Multimedia Trail Journal to fix. I will tell the story of the Rim of Africa Mountain Passage, and use it to create a localized resource for educators and non-profits to teach about the environment and conservation. That way youth can learn about the significance of the region, and maybe even consider future studies or jobs related to conservation or tourism.
I am building partnerships with a non-profit organizations in South Africa, like the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Center in Masiphumelele, to directly put this in the hands of South African youths. Through exciting and accessible environmental education materials, I hope that South African youth will be better prepared to create the conservation solutions that are needed for this region’s ecological survival. Additionally, the photographs, video, and other media produced from this expedition will be used for promoting the Rim of Africa Trail, potentially within travel publications, to increase the publicity of the project and income to local communities.
This project was partially funded by a National Geographic Society Young Explorers Grant, which has provided funds for flights, insurance, transport, food, and hiking fees. I am seeking additional supporters to be able to cover additional cost of the expedition and to create this website. Visit Donate to help make this project go forward.