Building on the success of the Blue Flag eco-label and acknowledging its suitability limited to urban beaches, WESSA introduced an additional coastal award programme designed for broader application targeting coastal sites with high biodiversity, cultural value and eco- tourism potential. The Green Coast eco-label, officially introduced in 2017, represents an annual accolade from WESSA, recognising coastal locations that uphold an exemplary standard in collaborative initiatives for coastal preservation, environmental education, and the advancement of eco-tourism. Green Coast offers a platform for collaboration, innovation, and involvement of the local community in coastal stewardship. To attain Green Coast status, coastal sites must fulfill a set of criteria aimed at ensuring the consistent enhancement of environmental, developmental, and participatory benchmarks. Implementing Green Coast fosters partnerships between local government and civil society, emphasising that the responsibility for these sites extends beyond the local authorities to encompass every citizen who depends on valuable coastal resources. The Green Coast standards encompass elements of fundamental ecological monitoring and support community-driven citizen science projects, empowering local residents to actively participate in coastal stewardship and influence local policy decisions. Coastal regions bearing the Green Coast status draw the attention of a distinct segment of the tourism market, catering to those seeking adventure, outdoor lifestyles, and nature-based experiences along our coastline. This eco-label enhances the visibility of these sites in the tourism sector, consolidating them under a single national eco-label. The annual submissions undergo validation by WESSA and evaluation by the Green Coast National Jury.
The Green Coast National Jury serves as the authoritative body responsible for conferring Green Coast status upon coastal locations. This body comprises individuals possessing pertinent expertise in coastal, tourism, ecological, or educational domains.
The primary duty of the National Jury is to evaluate submissions in alignment with the Green Coast criteria and verify that the prescribed national site visits have been conducted throughout the year.
The National Jury for the 2023/2024 Season.
Professional Scientist: Coastal Ecologist
Eastern Cape Department of Economic
Development, Environmental Affairs and
Marine Scientist, PhD
Chrysalis Training and Skills Development
The Blaauwberg Green Coast site encompasses the sandy shores and lower dunes of the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve and is championed by the City of Cape Town. The Reserve is monitoring the sandy shores by auditing the waste collected through monthly beach clean-ups. This monitoring activity not only encourages community involvement and civic action but also generates marine waste data. The data paints a picture of the extent and source of the problem but also creates an opportunity for environmental education. The Blaauwberg Reserve has a dedicated environmental education centre and hosts a number of schools and community groups annually. Eerste Steen picnic site and multiple access points with viewing decks are well utilised by residents and local and foreign visitors. The iconic view of Table Mountain combines with well-maintained facilities and protected coastal habitat make this coastal a first-class Green Coast site. Find out more by visiting the following.
Natures Valley lies 29 kilometres from Plettenberg Bay, in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Natures Valley is flanked by an escarpment on one side and the Indian ocean on the other side and it forms part of the Tsitsikamma National Park. Natures Valley Green Coast is implemented by the Nature’s Valley Trust (NVT) with support from the Bitou municipality and Plett Tourism. The Green Coast monitoring plan includes both the sandy shores and estuarine habitats. NVT regularly conducts Coordinated Waterbird Counts, observational monitoring of shorebird eggs, chicks and adults, monitoring of marine debris and microplastics and the monitoring of the water quality of the Groot River estuary and mouth. NVT implemented an impressive range of environmental education activities including Adopt-a-beach, Birding Connect and geology workshops. These event together with regular clean up events engages local schools and community members. Natures Valey is a very popular tourism destination which sees an influx of visitors in the summer holiday season. Visitors to the area enjoy a range of nature- based activities. Nature’s Valley is prime example of a Green Coast site. For more information, please visit this website.
The peaceful seaside holiday village of Morgan Bay is located less than an hour from East London on South Africa’s Wild Coast, and is blessed with a mile-long beach, safe swimming lagoon and picturesque sea cliffs. Morgan Bay Green Coast is championed by the Morgan Bay Ratepayers Association (MBRA) with support from the Great Kei Municipality. Morgan Bay Green coast chose to focus on the Gxara estuary as this is a key natural feature that ecological significance and is also utilised extensive by residents and visitors for leisure activities. The estuary has been impacted by failing sewage infrastructure compounded by loadshedding and heavy storm water runoff entering the system. The MBRA has worked tirelessly with numerous engagements with the local authorities in a bid to improve the situation. Green Coast provided the perfect platform to bring the right stakeholders
together and subsequently the infrastructure has been upgraded and sewage spills dramatically reduced. The MBRA also takes immense pride in the cleanliness of beachfront and the facilities, the upkeep of which is funded by MBRA. Morgan Bay is rich in natural and cultural assets. This coupled with an engaged citizenry, makes Morgan Bay an exemplary Green Coast sites. For local information please visit this website.
The Gwaing Green Coast site is located in George Municipality and encompasses the estuary, sandy shores, Garden Route Granite fynbos habitat, the picnic site and camp site. George Municipality is the primary implementer of Green Coast at this site. The chosen theme is the critically endangered Garden Route Granite fynbos habitat. The habitat will be monitored using species identification and density estimation making use of vegetation transects and fixed-point photography. The Gwaing River estuary attracts tourists visiting the nearby camping site and picnic sites and is also of socio- economic benefit to the golf estates, in terms of aesthetic appeal. The estuary and its undeveloped surrounds is also identified as a Critical Biodiversity Area and links the coastal corridor with the river corridor. There is great potential for custodianship with neighbouring landowners as well as heritage and tourism opportunities relating to the ‘strandloper’ caves, making Gwaing an ideal Green Coast site. For local information please visit this website.
The seaside holiday village of Kei Mouth is situated 45 minutes’ drive from East London in South Africa’s scenic Eastern Cape Wild Coast region. It is popular due to its location as the southern entry point to the Transkei Wild Coast. Kei Mouth Green Coast is championed locally by Chrysalis Nature Training and the Kei Mouth Ratepayers and Residents Association (KMRRA), with support from the Great Kei Municipality. Kei Mouth Green Coast has chosen to monitor the Kei Mouth Mudstone rocky shores as well as emerging mangrove population on the banks of the Kei River. Kei Mouth Green Coast is very active in terms of environmental education and subgroups have formed such as the ‘Nature Nerds’ that are focusing on rehabilitating habitat for butterflies. There has been a recent push to clear invasive alien plants from the dune habitat and surrounds. Kei Mouth Green Coast reports that the community is very proud and protective of their Green Coast status, and this has lent itself to an increased vigilance when it comes to environmental compliance. Kei Mouth is a unique tourism destination with a variety of nature-based activities on offer. Kei Mouth is an exemplary Green Coast site. For local information please visit this website.
Chintsa is an unspoilt piece of seaside paradise on the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast. The town is divided by the lagoon into Chintsa East, to the north, and Chinsta West, to the south. Chinsta Green Coast is championed locally by Friends of Chintsa with support from the Chinsta East Ratepayers Association and Great Kei Municipality. Chinsta Green Coast is focusing their mointoring theme on the Chinsta Estuary as this is a prominent natural feature in the lanscape that alos lend itself to leisure activities. In the past there have been concerns regarding the water wuality of the estuary. Cinsta Green Coast was able to convince local authorities to include the Chinsta Estuary into a provincial estuary water quality monitoring programme. Technicians from the Walter Sisulu National Pollution Lab conduct quarterly tests. To date, all results indicate that the estuary is healthy from a water qualty perspective and is safe for recreational use. Chintsa Green Coast is also monitoring fishing related waste after installing fishing line bins at the beach entrances. Chinsta Green Coast is commended for the extensive environmental education programme that is implemented in local schools and in the community. Chintsa is a polular toursim destination and lends itself to nature-based activities. For more information please visit this website.
Green Coast status is subject to annual renewal, with both renewals and new applications due by end July. The manual, criteria checklist, and templates are available for download on the WESSA website. New sites should register through the provided registration form on the website. The Green Coast application fee is determined annually. Applications are to be submitted through a cloud-based platform designed to streamline the information flow, and applicants will receive updates on how this process will be managed as it progresses.
Upon receiving an application, the National Operator will conduct a site visit to assess whether the site aligns with the Green Coast criteria. The applicant will be billed for the application, and WESSA will transmit the site visit findings, completed applications, and supporting documents to the National Jury for the final evaluation. The National Jury is responsible for determining whether to grant Green Coast status or request additional information before conferring such status.
Interested parties can initiate the registration process for a potential Green Coast site by clicking the button below, and we will get in touch with you!
Please select the buttons below to take you to the manual, criteria and template documents.
Contact Kerry McLean, Senior Project Manager for any queries.