Dammitall, I can think of a lot of people whose death would be good for the environment. Wally Menne is not one of them. His is a seriously sad loss for our environment.
Trish worked with Wally at BotSoc and at the big annual plant fair he was so instrumental in organising. The indigenous plant fair was huge in getting more indigenous plants out into gardens all over KZN and in spreading the word and popularising the planting of plants for a reason other than looking pretty. Azaleas are pretty but we all started to need to plant things that fit better into the local soil, insects, birds, etc biosphere.
We all knew that plantations are sterile and suck up water, but Wally gave me this book and taught me the real dangers of plantations:
He told me about the plantation industry’s influence on governments and their insidious PR calling themselves “forestry people” and representing themselves as the stewards of forests when they were in fact the enemies of forests and grasslands. They sponsor bird books and create little nature reserves while destructively expanding into precious biodiverse areas, ruining them forever. They “capture” prominent environmental bodies by sponsoring them and wining and dining their representatives. Insidious. “State Capture” is old hat to them. Wally as always said it exactly as it was: He likened their use of the word “forestry” to the Nats’ use of terms such as “separate development” or “mother tongue education” to put a pretty face on apartheid.
We miss you Wally and we need someone to stand up in your huge shoes. Ain’t gonna be easy. Most of us are easily swayed by persuasive bullshit and a book launch or a ribbon cutting at a new little nature reserve (which incidentally has no real protection).
Tonie Carnie wrote a stirring obituary for Wally in The Daily Maverick.