Mushroom photograph by kind permission of Anton Bernard


Follow the Water Stories Series
Green Economy Innovations for Service Delivery Conference: Presentations available
Cape Town’s Great African Sea Forest Is a ‘New World Wonder’

Faithful to Nature hosts inaugural Force of Nature event
Collaborator of the Month: Professor Leslie Petrik

To diarise
The Grand African Green Up to premiere on National Geographic
World Environment Day: 5 June
#WorldOceansDay: 8 June
Ocean Hackathon
World Rainforest Day: 22 June

Interesting reads
Seaspiracy and the environmental impact of fishing
The Table Mountain fire: what we can learn from the main drivers of wildfires
Overconsumption and the environment: should we all stop shopping?

We are loving …
Oceanhub Africa
The Litterboom Project

Who are Mycelium?  

By Natalie Nolte

As a child I always wished for a summer birthday. Living in land locked Jo’burg, I longed for a pool party .. rather than a party where I was dressed up like the Oros man. Fast forward 30 years, and I can’t imagine a cold winters day stopping me from diving into the ocean.

There’s something about swimming in ice cold water that gets everything flowing. Science says it increases your white blood cell count. The sea is also filled with incredible minerals that we can absorb through our skin. Some say swimming in the ocean is an excellent antioxidant and also ‘grounds’ us – or neutralises the EMFs we pick up from the huge amount of technology we interact with. Whatever the case may be, on those dark sleepy mornings, when it’s hard to get out of bed, nothing makes me feel more alive and prepares me for the day, quite like a morning swim in our beautiful ocean.

I always feel an immense amount of gratitude stepping onto the sand as the sun greets me with a new day. At the same time, I’m aware of the ocean pollution and destruction, and sometimes I wonder if we’re part of the last generations who get to enjoy this precious gift, or whether we will be able to shift our ways and save our seas. In this month’s newsletter we highlight some of the great work, inspiring activism and incredible research that is being done around ocean conservation.

Follow the Water Stories Series

This week we launched our Deep Dive into Water Stories social media campaign with the first of 12 weekly stories that take you on a journey through the Water Stories website, kicking off with the story of a researcher whose work is highlighting the impact of synthetic chemicals on ocean life. These are chemical compounds used in our daily lives that are washed into our sewage system and are persistent in the environment. Some of these are toxic, carcinogenic or endocrine disruptors.

Cecilia Ojemaye is an academic, mother and a doctoral graduate in Chemistry at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town. She is also an ocean activist through her studies on ocean and marine contamination from wastewater released into the environment. Cecilia’s story is the first of 12 stories we will be sharing with the aim of bringing more people into the conversation to inspire real life action for water protection and equal access to clean water and sanitation.

Follow our Mycelium Media Colab social media channels on Facebook and Instagram, or the Environmental Humanities South (EHS) Facebook Page, to catch more stories that dive into different aspects of the Water Stories website over the next 12 weeks.

Cape Town’s Great African Sea Forest Is a ‘New World Wonder’

Cape Town’s Great African Sea Forest has just been crowned as one of ‘World’s new Wonders’! Prepare for an immediate readjustment of your bucket lists. The seven “new” wonders of the world have been chosen by Bloomberg… and the underwater enchanted Kelp Forest, 16 kilometres south of Cape Town, ranks among them. The Kelp Forest is also known as the Great African Sea Forest… But we know you knew that already. The Forest’s profile was raised after its feature in the Academy Award Winning Documentary, My Octopus Teacher. My Octopus Teacher reached global plaudits after its release on Netflix in the year 2020. It tells the heartwarming story of how filmmaker Craig Foster, finds solace in the Kelp Forest and befriends an Octopus, where the two form a unique bond.

Here are the full “seven new wonders of the world” listed in reverse order:

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres high.

San Agustin, Colombia

San Agustin is a large archaeological area earthed near the town of San Agustín in Huila Department in Colombia. The park contains the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in Latin America and is considered the world’s largest necropolis. Belonging to San Agustin culture, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The dates of the statues are uncertain, but they are believed to have been carved between 5–400 AD. The origin of the carvers remains a mystery, as the site is largely unexcavated.

Kelp Forests, South Africa

The Kelp Forests, 16 km south of Cape Town form a shallow underwater jungle, more than twice as wide as the Grand Canyon — and a home to millions of creatures… Yes, it too was the home of the octopus in Craig Foster’s Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher.

Top End Rock Art, Australia

Spectacular rock art sites can be found throughout Kakadu and Arnhem Land. The rock art here is easily accessible, large and prolific. At Nourlangie Rock you can see famous paintings such as Namarrgon and Lightning Man, while at Ubirr join a free Park Ranger talk to learn about the ancient rock art.

Nahanni, Canada

The Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, holds some of North America’s most incredible geological formations. Within the park you’ll find also Virginia Falls, where the river plunges down 90m drop, as well as the Rabbitkettle Hotsprings and tufa mounds.

Baalbek, Lebanon

Baalbek is a city located east of the Litani River in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. It is home to the Baalbek temple complex which includes two of the largest and grandest Roman temple ruins: the Temple of Bacchus and the Temple of Jupiter.

Antequera Dolmens, Spain

The Antequera Dolmens Site in Andalusia, is a cultural heritage ensemble comprising of three cultural monuments (the Dolmen of Menga, Dolmen of Viera and Tholos of El Romeral) and two natural mountain features (the Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal).

Green Economy Innovations for Service Delivery Conference: All presentations now available online

In partnership with the City of Cape Town’s Department of Enterprise and Investment, GreenCape hosted a two-day conference on Green Economy Innovation for Service Delivery, on the interactive Enlit Africa digital event platform. Held on 21 and 22 April 2021, this digital conference hosted 63 speakers for 14 sessions over three channels, showcasing local and international best-case examples of alternative service delivery for informal settlements, across energy, water & sanitation and waste management.
Day one of the conference focused on sector-specific sessions, which hosted simultaneously across energy, water & sanitation and waste management. Day two of the conference had cross-cutting panel discussions, covering: procurement, public and private collaborations and highlighted the need for effective community engagement and mobilisation. All of the presentations for the conference are now available to view. Click on the links below to access the recordings.


  1. Panel discussion: Financing innovative energy projects for basic service delivery
  2.  A municipal subsidy for solar – All systems go!
  3.  Energy innovations centred around employment, entrepreneurship and empowerment
  4.  Making clean cooking fuel accessible and affordable

Water and sanitation

  1. Panel discussion: Metro-share on water and sanitation innovations in South Africa
  2.  Cost effective non-sewered sanitation solutions being implemented in Kenyan cities
  3.  Opportunities and insights from a national sanitation technology piloting programme
  4.  Key learnings from developing and operating city wide sanitation solutions in Kenya


  1. Panel discussion: Creating value for waste incentives – a good or bad idea?
  2.  Learning from failure introduction of moloks to informal areas in Stellenbosch
  3.  Understanding perceptions and behaviour relating to waste management
  4.  Examples of alternative waste management practices in developing economies


  1. Panel discussion: Public Private Collaborations to Rollout Basic Services
  2. Panel discussion: The importance of building trust in communities

Opening addresses
Day one: Alderman Dan Plato, executive mayor, City of Cape Town
Day two: Alderman James Vos,
mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management

Faithful to Nature hosts inaugural Force of Nature event

Hosted by ethical retailer Faithful to Nature, the inaugural Force of Nature event was streamed live earlier this month, providing a platform for women at the forefront of environmental conservation. Its purpose is to share insights on the state of the planet and environmental sustainability, and to explore what can be done to save the environment in a South African context.Speakers included Xoli Fuyani, environmental education project manager at Earthchild Project; Yola Mgogwana, a high school student and activist; Aaniyah Omardien, the founder and director of The Beach Co-op; and Faithful to Nature’s founder and director, Robyn Smith. Mycelium member,

Kia Johnson, an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund SA (WWFSA), acted as master of ceremonies.

We really love their take on social distancing! Watch the inaugural Force of Nature event here.

Professor Leslie Petrik, Environmental Nanosciences Group, UWC

Professor Leslie Petrik is the Principle Investigator of the South African side of the SANOcean project, a partnership between Norway and South Africa investigating ocean pollution by marine sewage outfalls. Leslie also leads the Environmental and Nano Sciences (ENS) research group, in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), a collaborative partner in the Water Stories website along with Environmental Humanities South, University of Cape Town (UCT). Leslie has been a consistent, calm and important voice calling for concern around the level of contamination by persistent chemical pollutants in our rivers, groundwater and oceans.

With her team, she has been conducting critical scientific research, with many peer reviewed papers backing up her view that our ocean ecosystems are being critically damaged by this rarely talked about form of pollution. She has come under fire from politicians unwilling to admit the scale of the problem, but steadfastly held her ground, and we are honoured to be working with her on Water Stories.

She can be seen in Mark Jackson’s viral hit film Bay of Sewage and Mycelium’s feature story for the SABC2 environmental show 50/50 on Cape Town’s ocean pollution situation

As a senior woman of science she is an inspiring role model: she was the winner of the prestigious 2017/2018 National Science and Technology Forum NSTF-South32 Water Research Commission Award for an outstanding contribution to science, engineering, technology (SET) and innovation. In 2016 she received the Business Women of the Year Award in the Science and Technology Category and in 2015 she received the Water Research Commission Research Awards in the category Transformation and Redress. She has been recognised with the UWC Vice Chancellor’s Annual Distinguished Researcher Award, in the Natural and Medical Sciences for 2012, as well as a Distinguished Women Scientist, in Physical and Engineering Sciences by the Department of Science and Technology in 2012 (NanoTechnology Public Engagement, N.d).


The Grand African Green Up to premiere on Nat Geo

National Geographic’s Planet Possible campaign gets into full swing this World Environment Day weekend, with the premiere of The Grand African Green Up. This documentary profiles the mission of the AFR100 (African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative), as they strive to restore at least 100 million hectares of land by 2030. Showcasing the on-the-ground work being done in Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Ghana and Senegal, the documentary features poetic narration by the iconic Kenyan environmentalist and activist, Wanjira Mathai, with breath-taking visuals of the continent’s most awe-inspiring landscapes and vistas, all set to a rousing soundtrack.With deforested and degraded landscapes being a key environmental issue facing the continent, The Grand African Green Up introduces the people directly affected by the deteriorating state of their land, as well as the local heroes who are working to make a difference. Interviewees from across the documented countries showcased include a singer, a bishop, a student researcher, an environmentalist and a journalist, all giving their first-hand perspective on how this issue has impacted them and their communities, the work being done to restore productivity to the land, and what the future holds as a result.

The Grand African Green Up was directed by Safi Graauw and produced as a collaboration between AFR100 and Justdiggit, an organisation that aims to restore nature and to become the illuminating light of nature-based solutions.

Launched in April on Earth Day, Planet Possible is National Geographic’s new multi-platform, multi-year initiative aimed at empowering people to live more lightly on the planet. As the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, the goal with Planet Possible’s storytelling is to inform and encourage consumers to build on the scientific and environmental gains of the past year through content, products and experiences, all aimed at enabling people to discover what they can do to help, to understand the threats to our planet and to imagine new possibilities.

The Grand African Green Up premieres on:

  1. Friday 4 June at 18:00 (CAT) on:
    • National Geographic (DStv 181, StarSat 220)
    • National Geographic Wild (DStv 182)
  2. Saturday 5 June at 18:10 on National Geographic

World Environment Day: 5 June

World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated annually on 5 June, and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment. It offers a global platform for inspiring positive change. It pushes for individuals to think about the way they consume; for businesses to develop greener models; for farmers and manufacturers to produce more sustainably; for governments to invest in repairing the environment; for educators to inspire students to take action; and for youth to build a greener future. Every World Environment Day is hosted by a different country in which official celebrations take place. This year’s host is Pakistan. Everybody living on this planet, in this moment in time can be a part of #GenerationRestoration.

 #WorldOceansDay: 8 June

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. Jacques Cousteau

On World Oceans Day, people around our blue planet celebrate and honor our one global ocean, which connects us all. For 2021 World Ocean Day is uniting conservation action to grow the global movement, calling on world leaders to protect at least 30% of our blue planet by 2030. This critical need is called 30×30. By safeguarding at least 30% of our ocean through a network of highly protected areas, we can help ensure a healthy climate and blue planet!

LOOK: The United Nations World Ocean Day Photo Competition 2021 will be announced on 8 June, but you can view the winners for 2017-2020 here, including this one from Geo Cloete who was a winner in 2020 with his image from the West Coast of South Africa titled “Waking Up”.

Geo Cloete says: “Tidal pools fascinate me. Where most other environments on Earth operates on a yearly clock following the four seasons, tidal pools follow a twice-daily clock. The creatures who call tidal pools their home, need to be well adapted in order to survive in these very dynamic environments. One such creature is these Sandy anemones (Aulactinia reynaudi).

As the tide drops and the water, which normally covers and protects these anemones, drains away they undergo a drastic change in appearance. They close up into them shelves and shrink into small little blobs which don’t at all resemble the opened anemones in shape or colour. I like to think of it as if they go into a “hibernation stage” for a few hours to protect themselves against the harsh topside elements.

When the tide turns and the crashing waves start to bridge the peripheral of the tidal pools with “fresh” nutrient-rich water, the anemones awake from their hibernation. Now the anemones must rely on their powerful foot muscles, with which they cling to the rocks, in order not to be swept away by the forceful waves and currents. As the tidal pool fills with water over the next few hours, the anemones return to their former colourful state. In full “bloom” the anemones are now ready to capture and feed on any food the waves and the rising tide might sweep past them”.

Ocean Hackathon
OceanHub Africa are inviting you to test an idea or develop a project during Ocean Hackathon 2021, by submitting your concept before 13 June. Benefit from two teams of data scientists and diverse experts to work on turning your next idea/innovation into reality.You’re eligible if:
– You are operating in one of the following industries: aquaculture, fisheries, ocean plastics and maritime transport
– You have successfully developed a proof of concept and proved traction
– You have a new idea/innovation you want to investigate that leverages data and can help your business grow with increased positive environmental impact
Projects will be selected on the following criteria: team, current technology robustness, impact potential of the new idea/innovation, potential business model of the new idea/innovation, social impact potential (including on communities).

TO DIARISE: World Rainforest Day: 22 June

The first World Rainforest Day was launched on 22 June 2017, by Rainforest Partnership, as a collaborative effort to raise awareness and encourage action to protect the world’s rainforests. Rainforests are vital for the survival of life on Earth as they absorb our carbon dioxide, stabilize climate patterns, and are home to half the world’s plant and animal species. Yet every minute, we lose 40 football fields of rainforests, which threatens our biodiversity and imperils our planet’s health. Deforestation causes 15% of global carbon dioxide emissions that accelerate climate change — more than from all cars in the U.S. and China combined. Natural climate solutions like protecting and restoring forests however, could reverse global emissions by a third. World Rainforest Day celebrates this precious natural resource and encourages action to preserve it. Your efforts, together with the actions of others, will have a positive impact on rainforests and the climate worldwide. Read more

ACTION POINT: Find your carbon footprint with Global Forest Fund’s CO2 calculator.


Seaspiracy and the environmental impact of fishing 

While the 2021 Netflix documentary ‘Seaspiracy’ spotlighted imperative discussions that the world needs to be having around issues with the ocean, some experts say the film might have missed a more balanced, representative and empowering, solutions-based view.  Daily Maverick

The Table Mountain fire: what we can learn from the main drivers of wildfires

Based on our research into fynbos fire ecology and management over the past four decades, we believe that rather than attempting to apportion blame, South Africans should be examining the causes of destructive wildfires, and what can be done about them. Wildfires are the inevitable consequence of three factors coming together at the same time: weather that is conducive to the establishment and spread of a fire; enough fuel of the right type and arrangement to carry the fire; and a source of ignition to start it. Simple as this may seem, there are many misconceptions and poor understanding around each of these elements. The Conversation

Overconsumption and the environment: should we all stop shopping?

Over-consumption is at the root of the planet’s environmental crisis. One solution, proposed by author JB MacKinnon, is that we should simply buy less. But would that really work? The Day the World Stops Shopping, his new book, explores what might happen if the world transformed into a society that does not revolve around purchasing, one in which our primary role is not as consumers, and our credit cards are not our most commonly deployed tools. The Guardian


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

Oceanhub Africa

It’s World Ocean Day on 8 June so we wanted to give a special shout out to Oceanhub Africa who aim to accelerate the development and adoption of ocean-minded innovations, to unleash the power of African ocean innovators and place Cape Town at the forefront of a more sustainable ocean economy. Launched in July 2019, this NPO aims to grow a Blue Economy by supporting ocean-impact ventures in Africa through online acceleration programs, while leading an international ocean-minded ecosystem. The organisation is a response to pressing ocean challenges. Their first acceleration programme in 2020 developed 6 startups and the 2021 cohort started in April with 6 new promising African-based, ocean-minded, impact-for-profit innovative businesses.


Greenpop has been selected to be an official Supporting Partner of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Greenpop was founded in 2010 with the goal of planting more trees in South Africa. Since then, the organisation has grown from strength to strength. Since 2010, Greenpop has planted over 130,000 trees around South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. The United Nations saw this and selected the local organisation to join their Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. With a focus on forests, Greenpop are the perfect support partners for the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration from 2021 – 2030, to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.

The Litterboom Project

90% of marine plastic pollution comes from river systems. Litterbooms are highly effective floating booms that catch most plastic from a river, which is then removed by trained teams and sorted on site, the results are recorded and reported monthly. The Litterboom Project Cape Town was launched in June 2020, and it is intercepting waste in 4 of Cape Town’s rivers – The Black River (Mowbray) and the Big & Little Lotus rivers (Grass Park), as well as the Liesbeek (Observatory) and Zandvlei (Marina Da Gama) Rivers. Funding partners are still needed to keep the project running and to expand to more rivers across the city. Find out more.

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The world is facing an unprecedented crisis, significant environmental degradation, deepening social inequality and economic collapse. These interlinked crises are exacerbated by man-made climate change. We will only overcome these challenges and be able to bring about a sustainable and regenerative world by working together to rebuild our connections and relationships with natural systems, and with each other. Mycelium is a collaboration of multi-media content creators focused on showing what a sustainable and regenerative world could look like, and how to get there. We do this by raising awareness and showcasing examples, and by growing the number of practitioners able to support this mission.Our values are based on those of the

International Co-operative Alliance: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. We also embrace the values of collaboration, honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Our value system acknowledges the need to combat the significant levels of inequality in South Africa, particularly those related to race and gender. We have chosen to work through the cooperative model because it offers economies of scale and scope, increased bargaining power, a space for learning, and the ability to offer value to our members and broader society.

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