A solid waste pilot study and proposed management recommendations for Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal wildlife protected areas.
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Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (KZN Wildlife) needed to develop a solid waste management policy and strategy for their protected areas, as well as specific solid waste management plans for existing and new developments within these areas. These had to be in keeping with the principles of sustainable development, protected area conservation objectives, best practice and legislative requirements. A pilot study was thus undertaken at two large KwaZulu-Natal protected area visitor facilities, Hilltop Rest Camp in Hluhluwe Game Reserve and Sodwana Bay Rest Camp, to investigate the types and amounts of solid waste generated . In addition, the solid waste disposal methods employed in 1984 and 2000, the disposal options available and the constraints and impacts of solid waste disposal throughout the protected area system were investigated. A comparison was made with solid waste production and management at Skukuza Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park as well as with various international waste sources. The information was presented in the form of histograms for comparison and tree cluster analysis was used as a heuristic tool to discuss the results. Hilltop and Sodwana Bay Rest Camps produced similar waste although its composition varied according to the specific source of production within the visitor facility . The waste produced at KZN Wildlife protected area visitor facilities had a similar composition to that produced at Skukuza Rest Camp. Audits of waste management practices at Hilltop, Sodwana Bay and Skukuza indicated that KZN Wildlife was not adequately managing the solid waste at their two protected area visitorfacilities. However, solid waste was being responsibly disposed of at Skukuza Rest Camp. The type of waste produced at protected area visitor facilities in a number of other African countries and Australia, was similar in composition to that produced in South African protected areas; all were similar to that produced in developed, westernised countries. A survey in 1984 of waste disposal methods in 32 KZN Wildlife protected areas, indicated that disposal to municipal landfill was only practised by protected areas less than 5 000 ha in size and less than 30 km from a municipallandfill. The current (2000) survey showed that disposal directly to landfill without reduction within protected areas had been discontinued, and that there was an increased proportion of waste disposal to municipal landfill. Such disposal was primarily limited to areas of less than 10000 ha and less than 40 km from such a landfill. The main constraints on the choice of waste disposal method were the cost of transport and limited budgets. A draft solid waste management policy and strategy were developed. The policy set out the legal requirements , ecological objectives and constraints of solid waste disposal in protected areas and also the preferred disposal options. The strategy set out the waste disposal methods available and their associated risks, likely impacts, opportunities and implications for management. The use of a simple matrix, that combined transport costs (represented by distance to a municipal landfill site); the size of the protected area (assumed to reflect the amount of solid waste generated); and the environmental risk of leachate production (as indicated by the climatic water balance), with suitable waste disposal options, was recommended. This matrix was designed to assist in the objective implementation of the draft waste management policy and in selection of an appropriate waste disposal method for each protected area. The draft policy and strategy were applied to produce a solid waste management plan for a new development in Umfolozi Game Reserve.