Zandvlei Trust

Proposal to extend the boundaries of the Zandvlei Nature Reserve.

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 status.

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;

  1. Westlake Wetlands area between railway line and the existing ZNR,existing ZNR, Wildwood Island, Park Island, Zandvlei Mouth and water surface.

  2. Bath Road

  3. Sensitive vegetation along the Keysers River,

  4. Restoration area at the confluence of the Langevlei and Sand Rivers.

The local authority Nature Reserve status;

  • 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 funding.

 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 Nature Reserve.

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 underway!

 Clifford Dorse.    Reserve Manager.

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