The Garden Route National Park, established by SANParks and also known as GRNP, spans an impressive 121 000 hectares and includes the existing Wilderness and Tsitsikamma national parks, the Knysna Lakes area and roughly 52 000 hectares of newly proclaimed land.
It is no surprise to learn that the Garden Route is one of the most important conservation areas in the country in terms of biodiversity and that its sheer beauty attracts a major number of tourists, both local and from overseas.
The Garden Route is regarded as a critical focus area. The Knysna estuary and Wilderness lake areas alone are rated number one and six respectively; it is home to a section of 60 500 hectares of indindigenous forest – the largest continuous complex of such forest in the country; and the fynbos of the Garden Route falls within the Cape Floristic region – a global diversity hotspot.
The Garden Route National Park is so large it falls across both the Eastern Cape and Western Cape and brings together a series of tourist facilities that include camping areas, chalets, hiking and mountain bike trails, forest trails, canoeing, diving and other local activities.
The Garden Route National Park is an example of ‘conservation without boundaries’ and SANParks believes that it is in essence a new conservation model for the country, particularly if you consider the over 1 000 private landowners who border the park and the need to create stewardship programmes that encourage these residents of the Garden Route to help conserve the natural heritage of the area.