On a chilly winter’s day we joined John Lucas, who owns the innovative Explore4Knowledge programme, at the picturesque Tweede Tol campsite in the Limietberg Nature Reserve for a fun-filled weekend in the fynbos.
John runs adventure camps and school outings that aim to inspire future generations, offering an introduction to environmental education, which is often lacking in the typical school syllabus.
Explore4Knowledge aims to highlight ongoing environmental issues through interactive and educational initiatives with the youth, using the natural backdrop of a waterfall or a river as a classroom. The programmes focus around the life source that supports all environment and wildlife, and thus is so vital to protect – water.
And the thing about John is that he understands more than anyone that water is boring! It is not cute and cuddly like WWF’s panda bear or iconic like the rhino, and it flows when we open the tap. But John also understands that water doesn’t come from the tap – and he has made it his mission to teach teenagers the importance of looking after our water sources in a fun and interactive way that actually gets them involved rather than just preaching to them. To date his company has engaged with over 15,000 students – with no child forking out a cent to join his workshops, projects and camps.
During our weekend we were showed the process a river takes from source to mouth and how things like pollution, invasive species, agriculture and human settlement affect our water. Filtering down from rivers to oceans, and onwards to environments and the natural bounty that mountains, estuaries and valleys sustain – we learnt how everything is connected. For instance, did you know that land-based pollution accounts for over 80% of marine pollution?
We then conducted some river clean-up exercises and a miniSASS, which involved inspecting the river and quantifying the lives found therein to determine the health of the system. The findings from Explore4Knowledge’s camps are collected and later analysed by experts to determine river health and ways to protect these vital sources of life.
The weekend was nicely rounded up by an exquisite fish braai, prepared by WWF SASSI chefs, where we indulged in some kingklip, which has recently been moved from the orange to the green list thanks to the work WWF is doing with local fisherman to improve sustainable fishing efforts.