Throughout the 90's there was an increasing realisation by the general public, or at least some of the non-governmental organisations (NGO's), that the rivers and estuaries of the coastal rimland of South Africa were threatened by poor land management, urban and industrial development and the effluents which they generate.
By 1990 many of the NGO's concerned over the fate of the Knysna ‘lagoon" as a consequence of rapid urbanisation within the "lagoon" basin argued that the system was fast approaching a critical environmental status or condition. Some went as far as to conclude that the "lagoon" was dying!
To assess the reality of this view, the Outeniqualand Trust (an NGO founded in 1974 to keep watch over the impact of development along the Garden Route)set up the Knysna Basin Project (KBP) at the instigation of Dr Brian Allanson, formerly Professor of Zoology and Director of the Institute for Freshwater Studies at Rhodes University.
The Knysna Basin Project was established in 1995. Initially, the Project was planned as an holistic catchment study involving the river and its estuary which opened into a large marine embayment. And as the largest urban development was taking place within the littoral of the tidal areas of the ecosystem, and funds were limited our research effort was directed towards a description of the hydrographics, chemical and biological characteristics of the estuary, lagoon and marine embayment.
The emphasis was placed upon understanding the biophysical features of the tidal water column and intertidal sediments. Without this background the impact of increasing urbanisation upon the environmental status of the tidal areas would not be possible.
The past 19 years saw collaboration with various university institutions on a national as well as international level.