At the KZN Conservancies Association AGM held recently, Nikki Brighton received a certificate for outstanding commitment and contribution to the natural environment of KwaZulu Natal, in recognition of her efforts to promote the cause of conservation in the province. Despite being relatively new to the Conservancy movement, Nikki has had a big impact. Dargle Conservancy was instrumental in setting up the Midlands Conservancies Forum (MCF) a few years ago. “Our mission has always been to work proactively with other organisations to achieve a greater Midlands area that is wisely managed by all to ensure long term environmental sustainability, so it was an obvious step for our committee at the time.” she says.
Malcolm Stainbank, Chair of KZNCA, said “Nikki is one of those rare people who has insight, passion and lives her values. She believes in putting people into conservation, can take a fabulous photo and match it with beautiful words. She is an inspiration to many. She mentors people with love and patience and instils hope in so many children and young people. She treads lightly on the earth, giving more than she receives, with no expectation of reward. We need more like her on the planet.”
Nikki believes that conservation cannot just be about fencing things off and protecting certain species. “Painted Reed frogs and Samango monkeys really have no chance if humans do not change their lifestyles and behaviour. Human greed and the very odd idea that one life is more valuable than another has had an enormous impact on our planet,” she says, “I don’t think we have a clue about what is in store for us, with the rapid onset of Climate Change.”
Adamant that it is necessary to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and the industrial food chain, Nikki started the Dargle Local Living initiative which works towards a better, low-carbon and more sustainable future for the Dargle community. “Food is a conservation issue,” she says passionately. “The more people who value our biodiversity and the eco-systems on which we all rely, the better the chance they will be used with restraint. We have to change the attitude that the environment is there to exploit.”
Sarah Allan Vice-Chair of MCF “Nikki is a firm believer in collaboration which has seen expression in her involvement with the Midlands Conservancies Forum – creating the MCF website and blog and encouraging contributions for the popular Wildlife Sightings. She has been pivotal in securing funding for building community resilience in Mpophomeni, the DUCT river walks, environmental education and leadership projects in the Midlands. Nikki is also the inspiration behind the regular walks of the Midlands, allowing the general public opportunities to enjoy and explore the biodiversity jewels on otherwise inaccessible private land.”