Exploring Cape Town’s healing, thriving and regeneration as a Ramsar Wetland City
Upcycled toys for 12 500 children on Mandela Day
First National Biodiversity Offset Guideline published
Wildtrust develops oil spill model for SA risk assessment
Hail to Heroes campaign shows goodness of fruit is more than skin deep
Welcome new Mycelium members

To diarise
Kelp Night at the Two Oceans Aquarium: 1 August
Earth Overshoot Day 2023: 2 August
AAF and Grindstone partner to accelerate green economy, startups can apply now
ESG Africa Conference
Apply for your water and sanitation bursary

Film Festival and Competitions
LIFE AFTER OIL International Film Festival, Italy
Festival Film Bahari, Indonesia
World Food Forum Film Festival, Italy
Human Environment Care Film Festival, Canada

Interesting reads
As tourism, flights increase, South Africa’s carbon footprint highlighted in British report
Cape Town residents list flooding, fires and health concerns at Climate Change Bill public hearing
Male Fertility Crisis – What Environmental Contaminants Have Got to Do With It

We are loving …
Electronic cargo bicycles
INO Biodiesel repurposes cooking oil
The Botanical Society of South Africa turns 110 years oldr!
Oranjezicht City Farm Allotments

Who are Mycelium?

By Haidee Swanby

We are now deep into one of the coldest and wettest winters experienced for some time in the Western Cape, with persistent warnings of ‘disruptive rain’ that may result in flooding of roads and informal settlements, disruption to essential services, dangerous rock and mudslides and the potential for remote communities to be cut off from assistance. As our government drafts its first Climate Change Bill, we’re more aware than ever that climate change is not on the horizon, but already our lived experience.

There are so many initiatives from every quarter to help us transition into lifestyles that take the well-being of current and future generations and all life that makes up our Earth Community into account. These range from building green economies and jobs to engaging with new policy, holding polluters to account, reshaping our attitudes as consumers and innovating in our businesses and daily life. Most importantly, we remember that our humanity, our creative talents and our care for one another, are key to adapting to a world that offers less resources for more people in a time of harsh climactic disruptions.  The work of Mycelium is to tell these stories and inspire you all to reach out to those parts of the world that you can positively influence, so that collectively we can pull back from the brink and learn to live with the reciprocity and sacred attitude necessary for quality lives for all.


Toad tunnels installed beneath the road enable wildlife and water to move freely in the seasonal wetland areas surrounding Zeekoevlei

Exploring Cape Town’s healing, thriving and regeneration as a Ramsar Wetland City

A small informal workshop was held on 17 June to explore the significance of Cape Town as a Ramsar Wetland City through storytelling and conversation, reflecting from many angles on a question raised in the recent book Water Always Wins. What does water want? As the medium of life, water is a shapeshifter that patterns the Earth with its continuous cycles of ebb and flow. In traditional mythologies as in modern society, water carries the potential for healing and wellbeing, or for illness and misfortune, depending on the relationship we forge with it.

Cape Town was recently designated Africa’s second Ramsar Wetland City after Ghar el Mehl in Tunisia, under a UNESCO treaty to protect crucial wetland habitats around the world. This new status underscores the need to protect the city’s precious yet severely polluted wetlands and coastal ecosystems, amidst immense challenges of poverty, inequality, racial exclusion and inadequate infrastructure, as explored in a previous blog by Mycelium member Vanessa Farr.

An image of the seasonal wetlands in the areas surrounding Zeekoevlei

The workshop was attended by writers, filmmakers, researchers and storytellers including several Mycelium members as well as members of the Water Stories initiative. Inspired by bio-acoustician Bernie Krauss, there was an immersive walk listening to the soundscapes of Zeekoevlei, and the joy of singing frogs where heavy winter rains brought new flows of fresh, pure mountain water rushing into a very sick vlei contaminated by successive sewage spills.

Mycelium member Megan Lindow told the traditional Central African / Zululand legend of the Guardian of the Pool, reflecting themes from the conversations of the day that flowed around the many dimensions, relationships and forms of illness and health, pollution and purity, in water and in ourselves, in our landscapes and communities. All the sharing, experiences, ideation and conversations of the day poured into an ocean of story from which each participant was encouraged to make their own meaning and reflect on the question: What is water asking of me?


Upcycled toys for 12
 500 children on Mandela Day

For Mandela Day, the Do More Foundation, in collaboration with over 800 employees from 20 RCL Foods sites nationwide, joined forces to create upcycled toys for approximately 12 500 children in under-resourced communities. This initiative called “Built to Play” aligns in particular with the climate aspect of the official theme of Mandela Day 2023, “Climate, Food, and Solidarity.”

The campaign distributed play packs containing toys made from upcycled household materials to 255 early childhood development centres in under-resourced communities. These play packs include items such as puppets made from socks, colourful characters created from plastic bottle tops, and counting fish crafted from cardboard packaging. Singakwenza, a non-profit organisation that trains caregivers, designed these toys to support the facilitation of fun and educational play, enabling young children to develop essential foundational skills through recycling-based resources.

The selection of play pack contents is intentional, targeting various areas of early child development, including gross motor coordination, fine motor and visual coordination, cognitive and executive functioning, and more. These areas are particularly crucial as a significant percentage of South African children face challenges in these domains.

READ MORE: You can also make toys that lay the foundations for brain development using waste! The app Play@Home with Singakweza has more than 50 activities that you can make and play with children. Download the app for FREE from the Google Play Store and share it with caregivers and ECD centres.

First National Biodiversity Offset Guideline published

South Africa’s first National Biodiversity Offset Guideline has been published for implementation. “Biodiversity offsetting, which forms part of the mitigation hierarchy envisioned in the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) principles, is a relatively novel practice in South Africa. It has not always been implemented in an evidence-based and consistent manner, therefore the guideline serves to provide a degree of consistency and standardisation in the implementation thereof,” the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) said. The guideline will also serve as an intervention aimed at improved protection for, and appropriate management of biodiversity. If done correctly, the biodiversity outcome, as a result of the intervention, counterbalances the negative impact of an activity on biodiversity.

It was published in Government Gazette 48841 (Notice No. 3569) by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, on 23 June 2023 in terms of the National Environmental Management Act. “The National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 stated that South Africa’s biodiversity is declining and ecosystems are being degraded. Therefore, there is a need for urgent action to slow down the loss and degradation of these natural assets. The guideline will serve as a means to minimise and offset biodiversity loss as a result of the negative impacts of unsustainable development on the country’s natural environment.

“Biodiversity offsetting is only required if there is still a significant residual biodiversity impact after all other efforts have been made to avoid and minimise negative impacts on biodiversity,” the DFFE said. “The Guideline applies to the terrestrial and freshwater realms, and not to offshore marine areas or estuarine ecosystems. That does not however mean that biodiversity offsetting is not required where development will have negative impacts on marine or estuarine ecosystems. The guideline is not legally binding and does not replace the environmental authorisation (EA) process outlined in the NEMA or the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations. It augments the legislation by guiding the implementation of NEMA and the EIA Regulations in the context of mitigation of impacts on biodiversity and the use of biodiversity offsets.”

The Guideline can be accessed on National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998): The National Biodiversity Offset Guideline published for implementation [G48841 – GoN 3569].

Wildtrust develops oil spill model for SA risk assessment

Wildtrust, a South African NPO focused on the conservation of the natural world, is spearheading a project titled “Oil Spill Model for South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone”, which aims to develop a model to predict the nature, behaviour, and trajectory of oil spilled from offshore oil and gas extraction. This model will thereby provide realistic scenarios for future assessment of environmental, social, and economic risks of major blow-outs and routine spills from drilling sites being pursued in South Africa’s ocean.

At any given time, an average of 90% of the oceans around South Africa (our Exclusive Economic Zone – EEZ) are under lease for oil and gas exploration or extraction. Applications for exploratory and extractive drilling rights by oil and gas giants are being approved yet at the same time are being objected to by many stakeholders, including NGOs, coastal communities, and fishers. Unfortunately, this push-back by stakeholders appealing against decisions to approve drilling or exploration has been compromised by the lack of a realistic oil spill model to evaluate risks and impacts.

The Oil Spill Model for South Africa’s EEZ aims to change that. The project, funded by the Energy Transition Fund and driven by Wildtrust, is working closely with Research Associates at the University of Cape Town; Ocean Modeller, Dr Giles Fearon; Nelson Mandela University; Prof Annalisa Bracco at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Danielle Reich at Shoal’s Edge Consulting; and the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON).

This oil spill model for South Africa is a powerful tool to be used in the civil society campaigns underway in South Africa to stop exploration and exploitation of fossil fuels. It will allow for better assessments of potential damage and create an environment where it is more difficult for approvals to be obtained by big industry for risky proposals that threaten marine biodiversity (and marine protected areas), natural resources, fisheries, tourism, and coastal community livelihoods.

The Wildtrust oil spill model for the offshore environment of South Africa will provide an objective and scientifically defendable reference for the assessment of risks when decisions are made, and for future oil spill modelling studies in the region. The model will also help generate awareness amongst, and disseminate information to decision-makers, the public, and affected stakeholders about the risks associated with an oil spill from offshore exploration and extraction.

Hail to Heroes campaign shows goodness of fruit is more than skin deep

In an effort to decrease food waste, Dutoit and Good Hope Fruit have partnered with Pick n Pay on the
Hail to Heroes campaign, to promote the merits of cosmetically blemished produce. he Hails to Heroes campaign was conceptualised following the impact of multiple hailstorms on all apple varieties over the last 12 months, most notably in November 2022 and again in February this year. It was born from a need to decrease food waste and ensure consistency of apple supplies in Pick n Pay stores.

Apples have the ability to repair themselves after suffering superficial indentation caused by the impact of a hard piece of ice. According to Jaco Jordaan, technical manager at Good Hope Fruit, hail generally only causes cosmetic damage. “The fruit quality and taste of these apples remain perfectly intact, with the exact same nutritional value and delicious taste as those that are not damaged,” he says.

The challenge is that when consumers buy fresh produce, they tend to buy with their eyes. An incorrect perception exists that only perfect looking fruit will be good to eat. The truth when it comes to hail damaged fruit is that, although there might be a blemish or slight bruising on the skin, the inside of the apple is unaffected.

Consumers are used to buying fresh produce based on how it looks. This campaign is a unique opportunity to educate and inform consumers and change this perception over the long term. While unique to South Africa, this campaign mimics similar sentiment taking place globally. Various campaigns have been launched in Europe to market ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables, with a focus on the fact that the nutritional value remains the same, even if the carrot is skew. This has further reduced the need to process and dump fresh produce.

With climate change expected to increase the severity and frequency of hail in the Western Cape, Hail to Heroes encourages consumers to look beyond the external appearance and give these hail damaged apples a chance.

Welcome new Mycelium members

We are a network of changemakers, regenerators and multimedia creatives working on different aspects and at different scales but all with the same passion to bring about a better world. A critical element necessary for large-scale transformation of our social and economic systems is the ongoing co-creation and sharing of knowledge. We are delighted to have new members join the Mycelium Network!

Project Manager and Programme Designer

Speciality Area: Sustainable Development

Experience: Working in civil society space on a variety of roles from administration to project management. She has programme design experience in creating learning journeys and experiences for individuals and networks. She manages small scale productions for learning courseware and promotional materials.

Skills: Shiara holds an honours in Sustainable Development. She is a fast learner and has experience in and enjoys working with diverse groups of people. She takes a hands on approach to her work, and loves thinking about long term impact and sustainability. She has created, implemented and maintained project management for a number of virtual and face to face programmes, specifically within the civil society space.

“I am deeply passionate about our environment and creating a socially aware and just society empowered to support that, and vice versa”.

Copywriter & Communication Strategist

Speciality Area: Strategic marketing communications. Skilled writer and messaging strategist.

Experience: 25+ years helping businesses and non-profits make a greater impact in print, online and in the media.

Skills: Copywriting for websites, emails, digital and social media. Clear, strategic messaging and words that work.

“The right words can inspire action, amplify impact and help build a fairer, more sustainable world”.

Filmmaker, Cameraman & Photographer

Speciality Area: Capturing images that connect people with themselves, each other and the natural world

Experience: A documentary cameraman/DOP on multiple camera systems for over 10 years, has a drone pilot licence and has spent lots of time in remote areas, working in challenging conditions.

Skills: Has honed his craft through years of practical experience in capturing stunning visuals and compelling footage. Is well-versed in using professional camera equipment and has a keen eye for framing shots that evoke emotion and tell a story. In addition to technical skills, has extensive knowledge of East Africa, particularly in the realm of dhows and maritime culture. He has traveled extensively throughout the region, conducting research, meeting experts, and building a network of contacts. This firsthand experience and deep understanding of the subject matter enable him to capture authentic and captivating footage that truly immerses viewers in the world of dhows.

“My work is centred around finding self through journey. In connecting people with themselves, each other and the natural world. To help realise the connectedness of all things. To contribute towards a world of peace and abundance through harmony”.



Kelp Night at the Two Oceans Aquarium: 1 August

South Africa’s great sea forests are a marvel of nature, and we can think of no better way of celebrating Marine Protected Areas Day than by inviting the Two Oceans Aquarium community to a one-of-a-kind “Kelp Night”. Kelp Night takes place on the evening of 1 August 2023 at the Two Oceans Aquarium, with three incredible speakers and unique samplings of of kelp-based delicacies. We’re welcoming three special speakers: Jannes Landschoff of Sea Change Project, coastal forager Roushanna Gray, and environmental journalist and writer Leonie Joubert – and the evening’s MC will be none other than the fabulous Mark Fitzgibbon! Learn more here:

Earth Overshoot Day: 2 August
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. In 2023, Earth Overshoot Day lands on August 2. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international research organization that provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits. To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year:(Earth’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

Earth Overshoot Day 2023 falls on August 2.

AAF and Grindstone partner to accelerate green economy, startups can apply now

A partnership between the Anglo American Foundation (AAF) and startup accelerator Grindstone will identify and nurture 15 tech and tech-enabled startups by providing them with an opportunity to raise funds and gain market access. The collaboration aims to foster sustainable practices and promote environmental stewardship, with a large focus on job creation for South Africa’s youth. Enterprises started by green entrepreneurs embody responsible practices and environmental sustainability in various areas, including green buildings and the built environment, sustainable transport and infrastructure, clean energy and energy efficiency, resource conservation and management, sustainable agriculture, and food production, as well as sustainable forestry, waste management consumption, and production. The 2023 Grindstone accelerator, in partnership with AAF, will run as a six-month programme designed specifically for post-seed to series A green sector startups. For more information about the programme and to apply, interested green sector startups can visit

ESG Africa Conference

The ESG Africa Conference is scheduled to take place from the 4-5 October at the Sandton Convention Centre, where climate change and other topics will be discussed in detail and where business leaders will have the opportunity to learn from top local and international speakers and network with industry leaders. The conference looks at answering a number of question – How do you make ESG both relevant and applicable in an African context? How do you drive a sustainability mindset within organisations to help embed ESG principles? How do you ensure that people have the adequate knowledge and training as to what ESG is, why it is important and how to make sure organisations drive the change needed to create a more sustainable future?

Apply for your water and sanitation bursary

The Department of Water and Sanitation says it has made available comprehensive bursaries for the 2024 academic year to Grade 12 learners who plan to pursue studies related to their department. The bursaries target learners with outstanding academic performance, financial need and the relevant skills set in the water and sanitation sector. They cover full tuition fees, accommodation and food as per university guidance, books and stationery allowance and a monthly stipend. In turn, the department will provide employment contracts during which the bursars get relevant workplace exposure and additional training until they are ready to register as professionals with their relevant professional bodies. The bursary applications, which are
now open, will close on 30 November 2023.


LIFE AFTER OIL International Film Festival, Italy

LIFE AFTER OIL International Film Festival is an environmental and human rights film festival. Although it is important to raise public awareness on the risks connected to the exploitation and to the use of natural resource in the production of fossil fuels, still remains an enormous and dramatic problem. The main objective of the festival will be not only emphasizing problems related to the use of fossil fuels, but especially identifying the alternatives which take into account, according to the present scientific knowledge, the several well-known methods of production. Opening Date: August 1, 2023

Festival Film Bahari, Indonesia

Festival Film Bahari is designed to give insight and knowledge all about coastal culture and sea life through films. This year’s theme is Shifting Tides: Navigating Climate Changes. Join us for a captivating journey at the Festival Film Bahari VI, where we delve deep into the pressing global issue of climate change. This thought-provoking event brings together a collection of compelling films that shed light on the far-reaching impacts of climate change and the urgent need for collective action. Late Deadline: August 22, 2023

World Food Forum Film Festival, Italy

The World Food Forum is pleased to announce the launch of its Third Annual Film Festival! The short film competition has been successfully run for two years, including the first in person awards ceremony held at the FAO Headquarters in Rome in 2022. This year, the competition will feature five categories, a cash prize of USD 1000 and a special possibility for films to be featured on board Italy’s top airline, ITA Airways. Are you a young filmmaker who wants to tell the world stories that will inspire behavioural change and play an essential role in transforming our agrifood systems? Now is the time to submit your short film. We are looking for inspiring stories, both fiction and non-fiction, that will trigger a positive impact in the areas of food security, nutrition, gastronomy and more to facilitate agrifood systems transformation. Deadline: August 25, 2023

Human Environment Care Film Festival, Canada

The Human Environment Care Film Festival (HECFF) is Canada’s premier cultural event devoted exclusively to the exploration of Human-Environment care, Human rights issues, Environment protection through films. Works should relate to Human-Environment care, Human rights issues, Environment protection, and a special section of this year (Woman, Life, Freedom). As this is an art festival, creative endeavors are encouraged.
Late Deadline: September 21, 2023


As tourism, flights increase, South Africa’s carbon footprint highlighted in British report

A new report, the Airport Pollution Index, has named South Africa as being in the top 10 countries with the biggest carbon footprints in the world. The index is published by British company Utility Bidder, a business energy consultancy. The report says that with 99g of carbon emissions per passenger per km, South Africa features as fourth behind Luxembourg, the US Virgin Islands and Albania, and just ahead of Bermuda.

Cape Town residents list flooding, fires and health concerns at Climate Change Bill public hearing

Residents of informal settlements and vulnerable communities in Cape Town attended the final public hearing for comments on South Africa’s first Climate Change Bill to express the debilitating daily impacts of climate change they face in their communities. The
Climate Change Bill underwent extensive countrywide public consultation over the past year after being introduced to Parliament in February 2022. The bill seeks to ensure the development of a coordinated, integrated and effective nationwide response to climate change and the management of climate change impacts. It also aims to ensure South Africa’s long-term, just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy and society.  Daily Maverick

Male Fertility Crisis – What Environmental Contaminants Have Got to Do With It

There are multiple causes of male infertility. However, it is clear that environmental contaminants play a large part in declining fertility worldwide. Concern is rising about substances such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, nanomaterials and endocrine disrupting compounds. These substances are found everywhere in modern everyday lives. Most are present in personal-care products such as soaps, shampoos and hair sprays, as well as food wrap, water bottles and many other items. Other contaminants that are increasing in prevalence and show signs of entering our food chain are pesticides and medication.  
The Conversation

… these initiatives which support our aim of living in a more sustainable world.

Electronic cargo bicycles

Electronic cargo bicycles are being trialed in Stellenbosch as part of an initiative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, ease traffic congestion and stimulate local income opportunities. The idea came from Stellenbosch Fietsry, and the project is a partnership between Stellenbosch Entrepreneur and Enterprise Development (SEED) and German company Innovationsmanufaktur. Lark Cycles, a Western Cape e-bike company, designed and built the e-cargo bikes, which have been branded Stroom. E-cargo bikes as a solution to climate friendly transportation of small goods may yet present tremendous benefits to Stellenbosch. For more information, contact Nicolette Booyens:

INO Biodiesel repurposes cooking oil

Innocentia Mamaila read an article during lockdown about the merits of recycling cooking oil that sparked her interest. After further research, she discovered an industry built on buying, bleaching and reselling used cooking oil and its conversion into biodiesel. She has found great success with INO Biodiesel, winning the Female Founders Initiative Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. Innocentia is expanding the company’s activities into social outreach programmes in Limpopo, to be followed by KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. The project will partner with women in rural areas to grow agricultural products that can be processed into 100% cooking oil and then sold.

The Botanical Society of South Africa turns 110 years oldr!

Botanical Society of South Africa is a conservation civil society organisation that conserves South Africa’s indigenous plants through programmes geared towards improving knowledge, cultivation and sustainable use, protection and enjoyment of our natural ecosystems. The BotSoc and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden were founded in the same year, 1913. The then government granted the land on which the garden now stands provided that an organisation is formed from civil society to support its development and BotSoc was born.

Oranjezicht City Farm Allotments

Grow your own at the farm! Did you know that Oranjezicht City Farm and Market Day  offer allotments of various sizes and provide all the seeds, seedlings, compost and other items you need — as well as expert advice? All for about the cost of one cuppa per day. Allotment holders are part of a community at the farm and enjoy not only fresh food they grow themselves, but also the connection with other community members and with nature. Some also share their allotment spaces with neighbours, family members, work colleagues or friends. It’s a fun way to get your hands in the soil, get out into nature, expand your knowledge and skills, meet like-minded people and get involved with your local non-profit organic community food garden! Learn more onw or email if you are keen.

Thank you for reading our monthly newsletter! Please share this with like-minded friends or join our conversations on Facebook and Instagram.WHO ARE MYCELIUM?

Mycelium Media Colab is a co-operative of multimedia creatives and regenerators working together towards a healthy and sustainable world. We’re a collaborative enterprise with a strong focus on communication for change, producing compelling content and experiences that shift people’s mindsets.

We collaborate with academics, activists, dreamers, big thinkers, movers & shakers, and those who want to grow a regenerative world. Bringing together the talents, skills, resources and energy of multimedia creatives, we offer a networking, support and income-generation platform for members and affiliates. We develop and implement our own initiatives, and provide a range of professional services.

Membership to the Mycelium Media Colab is open to multimedia storytellers, artists and regenerators that share our vision collaborative and transformative change. It offers a networking and support space for members to share skills and inspiration, and creatively cross-pollinate, as well as a platform and organisational structure for projects that require a team.  Ownership of projects is shared between the creators and the co-operative. Contact for more information and visit