Landscape Education, Exploring cultural and natural heritage

The Western Cape is a culturally and biologically diverse province and home to a large part of the Cape Floristic Region Protected Areas, World Heritage site.

Environmental Education plays a critical role in getting conservation and environmental management messages across to the broader public. The issues relating to and affecting natural systems are sometimes quite complex and there is a need to look at alternative mechanisms to convey these messages. Specific issues such as climate change, natural resource flows and human impact require an understanding of temporal and spatial scales. This can prove challenging when trying to explain to younger learners. There is also a need to provide learners with the opportunities for experimental learning.

In 2006 CapeNature and Bridging Ages International in conjunction with the Kalmar läns museum, Bridging Ages Western Cape and the University of Cape Town started collaborating around Historic Environment Education, linking history, environment and human evolution.

Recent research around how knowing and experiencing nature affect human wellbeing, note that the effects of nature on mental and physical health have been rigorously demonstrated, whereas other effects (for example learning) are theorised but seldom demonstrated.

Time Travel is an educational method, where the participants actively research and role play going back in time to an historical event, in order to learn about themselves, their environment and society.

CapeNature is implementing and refining a program on Landscape Education, utilizing Time Travel as a method to convey issues affecting people and their natural environment including climate change, natural resource utilization and access. The Time Travel scenarios are developed with the key role players that will participate in the Time Travel.

Knersvlakte Time Travel – 1000 years ago.

Goals: To make participants reflect on limited availability of resources and to find common solutions for sustainable use.

Scenario: The scenario is an interaction between the San and the Khoi at Quakamma waterhole, 1000 years ago, as both groups converge on this reliable dry season waterhole.

The groups have very different ways of doing things, the San as hunter-gatherers versus the Khoi as pastoralists, seeking water and grazing for their herds. The two groups have very different ideas of what they want to use the site for. The two expectations appear to be in conflict with one other.

What was needed was some careful and considered discussions to come to a mutually agreement.
The solutions in this scenario are found through sharing skills, stories and agreeing to share use of the water and surrounding resources.

Key questions

  • How to share skills in order to make life easier for everyone?
  • How to make sure that people get on well together?
  • How to use our resources so that they are not damaged?
  • How to find and develop harmony, balance and sustainability? Between people, between people and nature.

Similarly today various interest groups want to use the often limited resources differently. Even today, sharing of resources and considering the sustainability of these resources still remain very pertinent issues.

Walker Bay (Klipgat) Time Travel – 1800 years ago.

Goals: To encourage participants to reflect on the sustainable use and sharing of marine resources.

Scenario: The scenario focuses on two different groups (San and Khoi) meeting at the Klipgat cave site, around 1800 years ago, in an area with rich marine resources. The group of San hunter-gatherers arrived first and has been using this site every year for some weeks at a time. They have done this for generations, so they consider this place as theirs. The area is rich in marine resources and the clan most often congregates here. This year is no exception. Though the last years have been more difficult for the hunter-gatherers, as more groups are coming to the area with numbers of sheep and some cattle. The groups are bigger and also stay longer. The hunter-gatherers feel concerned.

Key questions

  • Can the two groups stay here together and use the same resources? Is there enough? Is there a limit to the resources?
  • Do we need an agreement to establish the best use of the resources for the future?

These questions around marine resources use are still around and at the height of discussion in our coastal environments today.

The way forward:

  • Strategically position Landscape Education as a key programme of work to meet multiple outcomes.
  • Further strengthen relationships with tertiary institutions and partners to support implementation and explore opportunities to develop new partnerships.
  • Consolidate existing efforts with Landscape Education and build capacity to further roll out the programme.