The approach that has been developed
He also has got an Assistant Education Officer (AEO) qualification received at the Gold Field Environmental Education Centre. Prior to this, he was part of a year and a half Environmental Education learner ship through the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA). He was in the employ of The South African National Biodiversity Institute as an Environmental Education Officer (EEO) for a period of 4 years. In 2009 he joined the City of Cape Town as an Environmental Education Officer intern. He was also involved in the planning and facilitating of AEO training for new recruits.
The approach that has been developed in the Cape Flats Nature partnership and beyond has been described in our book “Growing together – Thinking and practice of urban nature conservators” It operates as an instrument, or tool, which helps others to get the job done. One way of fulfilling this role is to co-host all community activities in partnership with community-based organisations or others working at community level. And Cape Flats Nature does not manage the partnership sites, but supports site management, who will be there for a long time, to work with community partners and manage the site in a way that integrates biodiversity and social development priorities. Urban nature conservation is complex and there is no text book on how to do it.
So Cape Flats Nature has used an approach of experimenting and learning from practice so that we grow our understanding of what it takes to do conservation in the context of urban poverty. The tools we have used to facilitate learning from practice are regular reviews, evaluations and case studies. These processes have involved creating “safe spaces” where we are able to be open about difficulties as well as successes. When we introduce case studies we remind each other to listen deeply, not to interrupt and not to judge. This has meant building the capacity of conservation managers to engage with people, and building the capacity of community organisations to engage with conservation sites. Most of the people who manage conservation sites are trained as nature conservators and may not have “people” skills.