South Africa: Proclamation of the Cape Town’s Nature Reserves to Ensure Protection in Perpetuity

The City of Cape Town is in the process of proclaiming 17 sites with unique and critical biodiversity as Contract Nature Reserves under the Protected Areas Act. The majority of these areas have been historically managed as nature reserves by the City.

Cape Town is well known for its rich and unique biodiversity, boasting over 3250 native plant species and 19 different vegetation types. Much of the city’s biodiversity is unfortunately threatened with extinction, and to date 13 of Cape Town’s plant species are globally extinct or extinct in the wild. A total of 319 species are Red Listed as threatened with extinction. The reality is that Cape Town’s nature is under threat, and we need to act now or it may be lost forever.

This is of huge concern as biodiversity provides us with critical ecosystem-services, like food, shelter and protection against flooding and wind-blown sand. It also underpins the tourism-industry and offers critical resilience to the impacts of global climate change. By retaining and conserving natural systems in our urban environment we can maintain and enhance these ecosystem-services, and make Cape Town a more sustainable city.

Cape Town’s impressive system of open spaces contributes greatly to our appeal as a tourism-destination and gives the city its natural beauty. The City is currently managing more than 30 nature reserves and natural areas which are scattered across Cape Town, all of which form part of the network of open spaces. Sites like these provide critical refuges for threatened biodiversity, as well as important services to the public, like education, recreation and conservation of our natural heritage.

Most of the City’s nature reserves do not have adequate conservation protection. Many of the sites were proclaimed under the Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974 as “Local Authority Nature Reserves”. Others obtained status under the Environmental Conservation Act (ECA) and some have no official conservation status at all. In many instances the reserves have grown, and the official reserve boundaries were never adjusted to include this newly acquired land. As such it is essential that all the nature reserves under the jurisdiction of the City acquire formal protection under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act No. 57 of 2003) (‘PAA’).

CapeNature is the authority responsible for the proclamation of nature reserves in the Western Cape. As such all proposed conservation areas need to go through the CapeNature Protected Area Expansion Committee. 17 city sites (listed below) have been presented to CapeNature, and they are in agreement that the sites warrant the highest status of Contract Nature Reserve.

The proposed reserves are largely what have always been considered and managed as nature reserves within the City. Two notable additions are the inclusion of the Botterblom Park in Vierlanden, Durbanville, and the proposed extension of the False Bay Ecology Park (FBEP) to include portions of the False Bay Coastline and become the False Bay Nature Reserve. Harmony Flats Nature Reserve in the Strand is already a proclaimed Provincial Nature Reserve which is an equivalent status to a Contract Nature Reserve. This reserve will therefore not be going through the proclamation process but its draft management plan will be going out for public comment along with the other sites.

City Nature Reserves to be proclaimed as per the PAA:

1. Blouberg Nature Reserve

2. Bothasig Nature Reserve

3. Botterblom Nature Reserve

4. Bracken Nature Reserve (incl. Perdekop)

5. Diep River Nature Reserve

6. Durbanville Nature Reserve

7. Edith Stephens Nature Reserve

8. False Bay Nature Reserve (Rondevlei, Zeekoevlei, Pelican Park, Coastline)

9. Helderberg Nature Reserve (incl. Silverboomkloof)

10. Steenbras Nature Reserve

11. Milnerton Race Course Nature Reserve

12. Rietvlei Wetland Nature Reserve

13. Tygerberg Nature Reserve

14. Uitkamp Wetland Nature Reserve

15. Witzands Aquifer Nature Reserve

16. Wolfgat Nature Reserve

17. Zandvlei Nature Reserve

For all Contract Nature Reserves, the site must be managed in accordance with an approved Integrated Reserve Management Plan (IRMP).

Following an internal process within the City, involving all relevant line functions, the month of February 2011 was identified for the public participation process. As part of this process the proposed boundaries and draft IRMPs will be available for public comment. Interested members of the public can access the proposed boundaries and draft IRMP via the web at www.capetown.gov.za/reserveproclamation as from 1 February 2011.

A hard copy of the draft IRMP will be placed at each respective reserve office and at the closest public library to the reserve. Several open days will be held where the public are invited to come and provide comment. These will be at:

VENUE AREA DATE TIME

Blaauwberg Hall Blaauwberg 4/02/11 14.00–19.00

Avondale Civic Centre Atlantis 7/02/11 14.00–19.00

Somerset West Council Chambers Strand 8/02/11 14.00–18.00

Thusong Youth Center Mitchell’s Plain 9/02/11 14.00–19.00

Grassy Park High School Grassy Park 10/02/11 15.00-19.00

Edith Stephens Hall Philippi 10/02/11 14.00-19.00

Durbanville Nature Reserve Durbanville 10/02/11 14.00-19.00

The City of Cape Town public participation comment period lasts from 1 to 28 February 2011.

The results of the public participation process and all inputs from the Subcouncils will be presented at the Planning and Environment Portfolio Committee (PEPCO) before being submitted to the Council agenda for approval to proclaim the Nature Reserves.

Following the City process, CapeNature will advertise the intent to declare these nature reserves in two national newspapers for a 60 day period as stipulated by the Protected Areas Act.

For further enquiries and for written or faxed submissions, please contact:

Cliff Dorse
Biodiversity Coordinator
Tel: 021 514 4189
Fax: 021 511 1951
E-mail: biodiversity@capetown.gov.za
Post: PO Box 11 Maitland 7404

 

Issued by: Communication Department, City of Cape Town

Media enquiries: Cliff Dorse, Biodiversity Coordinator: Environmental Resource Management Department, City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 514 4189.