The Zandvlei Trust EXCO visit to Blaauberg.
On a cold overcast 16 October 2004 morning, with a cold front moving in, we arrived at the offices of the Blaauberg Conservancy Area (BCA), just north of Blouberg Big Bay. Fortunately it was not raining yet. The clouds were high enough so as not to obscure the mountain tops.
Clifford Dorse showed us around his impressive office, which was built for the World Cricket Cup. It is about 30 meters from the high water mark, overlooking Table Bay with a wonderful view of Robben Island and Table Mountain across the water. After some coffee to warm us up, and being shown some beatutiful photographs of the plant database he has recorded, we jumped onto the back of his bakkie a headed off to the Blouberg Mountain via one of the access routes.
He explained, while we were being bumped and swayed around on the back of the vehicle over the rough terrain along the way, that a huge potential for education, recreation and tourism exists for the area. The BCA has 3 vegetation types (all threatened) Strandveld, Renosterveld and Sand Plain Fynbos and extends from the beach to the top of Blouberg Mountain 230 meters above sea level and further inland. The site of the Battle of Blouberg is very nearby, on a next door property. The plant species list is near 500, recorded since Novemebr 2003. 45 of these species are confirmed red data plants.
The main focus Clifford and his team of 19 workers are occupied with, is rehabilitating the massive erosion created by off road vehicles of all descriptions. They have spent nearly R1m so far. The damage has to be seen to be believed. The road way to the top of the mountain has been greatly improved with runoff channels for rainwater. It is very impressive, the amount and quality of work, that has been achieved in the 6 months since I first visited the area. The coastal zone programme is starting to produce the benefits of designated parking areas and vehicles have been kept off the sensitive dune vegetation and it is recovering.
There are some old Second World War naval buildings structures that with some imagination and money could be a very attractive place of interst to visit. The area is large and viable enough to support some selective large game suited to the vegetation types.
We found a place out of the wind, behind the mountain, to have brunch and wish "our old Zandvlei friend" well with his new project. The land area is about 100 times larger than he managed at Zandvlei.
There is a volunteer group in the area called The Friends of Blouberg (Chairman – Louis Raubenheimer contact Lraubenh@mweb.co.za or ph (0212) 554 2221) who help by clearing exotic vegetation and rehabilitation work.