Zandvlei Nature Reserve
(ZNR) boasts a number of important ecological attributes.
Firstly it is the only viable estuary that exists on the False Bay
coastline, fulfilling an important role as a fish nursery which effects
the recreational and commercial angling industries in False Bay.
Secondly its terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna represent a remnant
of the habitat that once covered large tracts of the Cape Flats. The
remaining flora of the Cape Flats is rich in biodiversity and has gained
the status of international importance.
Due to its threatened nature and high degree of endemism (plants only
occurring in one area and nowhere else in the world), the recent CAPE
(Cape Action Plan for the Environment) Project noted that every remnant
of the Cape Flats flora is critical to conserve. Nick Helme, a well
known botanist, has recognised the conservation value of certain areas
surrounding Zandvlei and has strongly recommended that they be included
in the Nature Reserve Area.
Finally, the preservation of Wetlands have been neglected in the past
and many have become severely degraded. They are now recognised as
sensitive habitats that need to be afforded the highest conservation
Greening the City
The extension to the boundaries of the ZNR was first recommended in 1982
by the then Cape Town City Council's "Greening the City"
report. This report was adopted by the City Council in 1984, but very
little progress has been made despite attempts from local NGO's and
various Council officials to drive the process. Recently the
conservation value of Zandvlei has been revisited and it is proposed
that the existing boundaries of the ZNR are extended to include;
Westlake Wetlands –
area between railway line and the existing ZNR,existing ZNR, Wildwood
Island, Park Island, Zandvlei Mouth and water surface.
along the Keysers River,
Restoration area at the
confluence of the Langevlei and Sand Rivers.
The local authority Nature
GZENR will have a
greater legal standing and Council has a greater chance of
maintaining and improving the character and quality of the vlei.
Law enforcement offences
in formal nature reserves under the Nature Conservation Ordinance
carry stronger penalties.
A local authority nature
reserve allows for sustainable use of the resources and appropriate
facilities in less sensitive areas.
It allows for continued
input from the local residents in the form of an advisory board.
Property prices should
rise as the charismatic appeal of developing next to (or in) a Nature
Reserve adds value to any development.
As a local authority
nature reserve there is greater access to national and international
Exiting uses of the
vlei, be they adjoining property owners or the residents of Cape Town,
will not change as the local authority nature reserve will remain a
multi-use area and an important regional recreational area. Adjoining
residents of Marina da Gama will still have control of the waters 2
meters from their shoreline as this will remain outside the proposed
Feedback so far
To date 2 public meetings have been held at the Retreat Library and the
San Marina Hall respectively. Although attendance of these meetings was
disappointing, overall comments received were very positive and in
favour of the extension of the boundaries.
The only concern there has been to date, is why the Marina canals and
Park Island should be included into a Nature Reserve as they are largely
artificial structures. While we recognise that Zandvlei is a modified
and highly impacted system, its ecological importance is clearly
evident. The value of Zandvlei as a functioning estuary is only just
being realised and the recreational and ecological value of Park Island
is obvious to all who enjoy the area.
Public comment closed on the 23rd June 2003. We will try and resolve any
concerns about the proclamation before a report goes to Council. Once
council has approved the report, an application to extend the boundaries
of the nature reserve will be submitted to the Western Cape Nature
Conservation Board (WCNCB). WCNCB will then evaluate the proposal and
either approve or deny the application. The long process is finally
Clifford Dorse. Reserve