“I can only compare these great aquatic forests with the terrestrial ones in the intertropical region. Yet if in any country a forest was destroyed, I do not believe nearly so many species of animals would perish as would here, from the destruction of the kelp. Amidst the leaves of this plant numerous species of fish live which nowhere else could find food or shelter.”
1 June 1834, Tierra Del Fugo,Chile
Darwin might have been referring to the kelp forests he saw around the Galapagos Islands, but his statement holds true for all healthy, functioning kelp forest ecosystems on the planet. These sea forests are giant algal gardens, nourished by nutrients that are brought to shore by powerful currents. These fertile waters, provide a unique three dimensional habitat replete with food for countless creatures.
We are a community of scientists, storytellers, journalists and filmmakers who are dedicated to raising awareness of the beauty and ecological importance of South Africa’s kelp forest.
We use media advocacy to protect the South African marine environment. Our work is inspired by daily contact with The Great African Sea Forest, and our goal is to have it declared a UNESCO Natural and Cultural World Heritage Site. By achieving this status, the kelp forest will be recognised as a global treasure that needs to be protected.
Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck founded the Sea Change Trust in 2012, a South African nonprofit. Through hundreds of hours of underwater exploration, they have come to understand this unique environment and the community of creatures that live within it. To date, we have generated millions of rands worth of publicity for our kelp forest. We support the call to sustainably increase South Africa’s marine protected areas (MPAs). By increasing the footprint of MPAs in South Africa we contribute to the protection of our oceans globally.
Our team’s discoveries have led to a ground breaking sequence in the BBC’s Blue Planet II TV series (episode 5: Green Seas); an outdoor photography exhibition seen by an estimated 1 million people; a book which has been showcased on CNN, BBC, and many local media outlets; and a documentary film. We have also discovered a plethora of new species and animal behaviours.
Recently, kelp forests have experienced a global decline of
of the marine territory surrounding South Africa has been earmarked for mining
of South Africa’s oceans are to be protected with a global promise to increase that to 10% by 2020
The scientific recommendation for protected oceans is
Why protect the Great African Sea Forest?
The Great African Sea Forest off the southwest tip of the African continent, is one of the best kept secret wonders of the world. It is the only forest of giant bamboo kelp on our planet. It is a magical, abundant and bio-diverse ecosystem.
It protects thousands of species and in terms of endemics, it is vastly richer than the Great Barrier Reef; in terms of wildlife drama, the relationships between predators and prey, are as spectacular as the Serengeti.
All kelp forests are extremely vulnerable sensitive ecosystems that can only grow in shallow inshore waters – areas that are most at risk to human pressure.
The forest is under great threat from pollution, over-fishing, poaching, climate change and the future threat of off-shore mining.
The Sea Change Project aims to protect the Great African Sea Forest by working with partner organisations and advocating for change to the current marine protection laws.