Branches are local groups of WESSA members who implement local conservation projects and initiatives. They often raise funds and may also help manage and protect sites of special conservation interest on behalf of local municipalities. Branches promote environmental awareness and education in the community, as well as hold special events and activities for members and the general public in order to encourage active participation in caring for the earth.
Branches are guided by the mission statement, policies and position statements of WESSA, and play an important role in achieving the aims of our organisation.
The Friends Groups concept is a WESSA initiative started in the Western Cape in 1985, when the ‘Friends of Nature Areas’ project was established with the objective of involving the public in safeguarding natural resources and working with the owners or managing authorities towards this end. At first, the scheme focussed only on nature reserves but later became a widely used model applied to any area that needed protection and support, including historical heritage sites.
Friends Groups are volunteers who band together to conserve, rehabilitate or prevent inappropriate developments in natural or semi-natural areas or places of special interest. These areas can be large formalised nature areas or small informal pockets of terrestrial and/or aquatic environments in various states of conservation worthiness. Friends Groups embody WESSA's mission to promote public participation in caring for the earth by encouraging communities to become more involved with their local environment and take responsibility for its continued well-being.
Friends Groups make a valuable contribution to the work we do in the areas of conservation and education as well as strengthening the environmental movement by networking and actively working in communities at a grass roots level.
Friends Groups receive regular newsflashes and newsletters from us and we keep them informed about events happening in their area. Individual Friends Group members are automatically considered to be WESSA supporters and can sign up with us to receive direct communications from us too. Friends Group members also qualify for a special reduced rate if they wish to become full WESSA Members.
A Friends Group Handbook is available to all affiliated Friends Groups.