The Blue Fund assists KZN beaches in their bid for Blue Flag status

Blue Flag is the prestigious, voluntary eco-label for beaches, marinas and boats that is recognised as a trusted symbol of quality and regarded by the World Tourism Organisation as the most well-known eco-label globally.

Wildlands Conservation Trust and Grindrod Financial Services have recently partnered to establish The Blue Fund. The Blue Fund has a focus on the conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems and the sustainable development of coastal communities. Through The Blue Fund, Wildlands was able to provide support to WESSA who are aiming to increase Blue Flag participation along the KwaZulu-Natal Coast. “KZN has a spectacular coastline and it is important that we assist the province in achieving Blue Flag status on its beaches,” says Mark Gerrard, Conservation Grants Manager at Wildlands.

Through The Blue Fund, Wildlands were able to support Pennington, Blythedale and Mtunzini beaches with their goal of achieving Blue Flag status. Both Pennington and Blythedale were successful in their bid for Blue Flag Status. This is significant as it means entry onto the Blue Flag programme for both the Umdoni and KwaDukuza municipalities. Mtunzini Beach will remain on Blue Flag Pilot status for the season while they focus on certain additional requirements.

To achieve Blue Flag status, as many as 33 different criteria have to be met – including:  water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management and safety and services.  In addition to this, all Blue Flag sites are required to conduct several environmental education activities throughout the year, and to practise effective and efficient conservation management.

“It is great to be able to support WESSA on a project which ultimately strengthens a programme to benefit the South African community as a whole, and we hope to see many more beaches listed with Blue Flag status in the future,” concludes Gerrard.