Residential Estate Industry Journal 3 - Page 26

RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY REVIEWS PAGE 24 thesen islands While the forests, the beaches and the relocated them to other parts of the lagoon, other coastal lakes, estuaries and wetlands. fascinating little towns all contribute to and immense resources were dedicated to While this is all very good, what’s really making the Garden Route a pretty special ensuring that the size, shape and relative exciting is that it makes Thesen Islands place, it’s the lagoons and coastal lakes that placement of the channels allowed a constant such a great place to live. The water quality really set it apart. For a long time estuaries flow, so there would be no nasty little ensures that all manner of water sports can and wetlands were considered “waste” land: stagnant backwaters, nor a flow too fast for be indulged in safely, and the health of the wetlands were “swamps”, and the best way to aquatic life to survive. In fact, it’s a matter ecosystem makes for rewarding snorkelling, deal with them was to drain them, fill them of pride to Thesen Islands residents and birdwatching and general enjoyment of the in and build over them – and estuaries were developers alike that there has been an scenery. mostly seen as convenient harbours if they increase in both the biomass and biodiversity were considered at all. within the development. The placid and iconic And, of course, Thesen Islands, while being Knysna seahorses sway in the gentle current, a neatly enclosed world unto itself, is also But that’s all changed. Society has come to sea hares roam the gabions quietly grazing part of the larger Knysna community. The realise that wetlands are essential elements in on a generous carpet of marine algae, and a development is built on what was once a maintaining water catchments and preventing range of fish species swim through the canals. rather degraded island with a sawmill and soil erosion, and that estuaries are invaluable other hard-core industrial elements, many of breeding grounds for ecologically (and But getting to this point was not easy. The which have been preserved and converted commercially) important fish species. Department of Environmental Affairs and into stylish industrial-chic premises for Tourism imposed more than a h