Tribute to committed environmentalist

Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) records its sadness and regret at the recent death of Wally Petersen, a committed environmentalist who worked at narrowing the divide between social and ecological issues (“Farewell to beloved Wally”, Echo, November 3). With Jenni Trethowan, well-known baboon activist, and Fulvio Grandin, a permaculturist, Wally helped start the organisation the Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group (KEAG) in the early 1990s.

From its inception, he strove to bring the local communities of the far south peninsula closer together through environmental restoration projects.

Most appropriately, KEAG was chosen as one of the first im-
plementers of the Working for the Coast programme, a long-standing government-funded initiative that WESSA has also been involved with.

This was the launch pad for Wally’s highly creative and innovative talent for seeing opportunities to benefit people and planet at the same time. Art from plastic waste, kelp walls for dune rebuilding, huge alien invasive clearing projects and promoting knowledge, consciousness of and affection for local fauna and flora through deftly illustrated and simply worded publications flowed from him, en-
thusing workers and local residents.

He brought a special dimension of inventiveness to tasks that would otherwise have seemed commonplace. He and his team as-
sisted Suretha Dorse of the City of Cape Town’s Environmental Resource Department with the award-winning and exemplary Skilpads-vlei restoration project in Kommetjie that has seen the return in numbers of Western Leopard toads to the area.

We will miss this beaming, self-effacing, good-will-radiating ecologist in our midst and are proud to have been associated with him.