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Collared sunbird in Kogelberg Nature Reserve

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What does living in a Biosphere Reserve entail?

■ MARINE CONSERVATION
■ TERRESTRIAL CONSERVATION
■ WATER CONSERVATION

The South Africa Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (KBR) in the Western Cape is home to the most diverse floral communities on our planet, with some 1,880 floral species within its 70,000 hectares as well as biologically diverse marine communities which are of substantial commercial value.

Active participation in environmental and conservation in the coastal Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. This includes the terrestrial environment stretching from the mountain tops to the coastal plain; the land/sea interface of dunes, beaches and rocky shores; the inter- and sub-tidal zones of the sea, as well as the inshore marine environment and its living resources; rivers and streams entering the sea; and the associated wetlands and coastal lakes.

The KBR is currently comprised as follows:

  • a practically untouched TERRESTRIAL CORE ZONE in the Kogelberg mountains;
  • an as yet inadequately protected MARINE CORE ZONE;
  • a TERRESTRIAL BUFFER ZONE encompassing near-natural areas which are largely in private ownership,
  • a MARINE BUFFER ZONE which harbours a very valuable set of economic resources which are, however, in need of more effective management and protection;
  • A TERRESTRIAL TRANSITION ZONE, which largely consists of sophisticated agricultural enterprises on the one hand, and sought after residential and holiday villages on the other.

The exceptional natural beauty and biological diversity of the KBR region, both on land and in the sea, has attracted scientists, visitors and tourists from around the world for more than two centuries. All of this on the doorstep of the metropolitan city and tourist haven – Cape Town. The abundance of natural resources has also attracted international fishing and whaling interests and, unfortunately, also greed driven poaching syndicates.

The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Company (KBRC) is responsible for co-operative management of the KBR. In keeping with the overall UNESCO principles for biosphere reserve management, it aims to ensure sustainability of the natural ecological processes and resources underpinning and governing the KBR region as an ecological service of inestimable value to local communities and the country as a whole. Ongoing viability of these cardinally important processes is therefore essential if the interests and wellbeing of the human communities of the region are to be safeguarded.

Human activity in the KBR region encompasses, inter alia, farming, the holiday and tourist trades, fishing and residential development.

Optimal cooperation between governmental institutions, NGOs, farming, fishing and other commercial interests, as well as all interested and involved parties is of vital importance if these objectives are to be achieved. In this context the KBRC plays a pivotal role.

Marine Conservation

  — compiled by Dr Allan Heydorn

The marine component of the KBR lies within the mixing zone of two major oceanic current systems – the sub-tropical Agulhas Current and the Benguela Current which is characterized by sporadic upwelling of nutrient-rich water of Antarctic origin. The productivity of the inshore waters also depends on the nutrient input provided by rivers and streams entering the sea. In turn, the marine environment determines the climatic characteristics of this coastal region, in particular, all-important orographic precipitation. Thus:

Land-sea interaction is the key ecological driver governing the KBR and the region within which it is situated.

The exceptional productivity of the nearshore water of the KBR provides the basis for both commercial and recreational fisheries. These fisheries are of obvious importance – not only to the welfare of the human communities of the KBR region, but also in national context. Protection of the living marine resources therefore needs serious attention in the formulation of management strategies of the KBR. Sadly, rampant poaching – in particular of abalone and rock lobster, takes place within the boundaries of the KBR.

The KBR region is, of course, not exempt from changes in atmospheric and oceanic climate which are sweeping the globe. In the KBR region this is indicated, inter alia, by a southward shift in pelagic fish resources; increasing numbers of penguins in the Stony Point colony; and increasing abundance of West Coast rock lobsters. Mobilization of dune sand is probably another consequence of climate change.

Bearing this overall background situation in mind, it is meaningful for the KBRC to actively promote:

  • Good agricultural practices as part of sound overall catchment management.
  • Sound management of coastal wetlands, estuaries and river mouths.
  • Prevention of unnecessary manipulation of coastal aquatic systems (this applies specifically to the Botvlei / Rooisand / Lamloch / Kleinmond system, as premature opening of the berm at Botvlei prevents the natural scouring of the estuary at Kleinmond, which is in danger of blockage by rampant reed growth).
  • Proper municipal stormwater management to prevent eutrophication of estuarine water, especially at Kleinmond and Onrus, which, in turn, leads to excessive reed growth.
  • Sound management of sewage works, as sewage effluent reaching estuaries poses serious human health risks as well as unacceptable ecological problems. This applies in particular to the Kleinmond sewage works adjacent to the mouth of the Palmiet River, but also to Onrus.
  • Acceptance of the existing, but as yet not implemented Kogelberg Coast Integrated Management Plan completed in 2010 under the auspices of WWF-SA and the Kogelberg Marine Working Group.
  • Optimal support of governmental anti-poaching initiatives and of Seawatch.
  • All aspects of Environmental Education at schools, amongst communities and by organisations such as Whale Coast Conservation.

The Kogelberg Marine Park

An ambitious plan has been developed by the Hangklip Kleinmond Coastal Management Forum to upgrade the management of the Kogelberg coastal and marine environment. It is intended to create a large marine park in which conservation, fishery management and eco-tourism will be promoted. This development arose out of concern for the conservation of marine resources and for the future of fishing in the area. Both of which are threatened by non-sustainable harvesting and rampant poaching.

The Kogelberg Marine Park will lie between the Steenbras River mouth and the Bot River mouth and extend approximately three nautical miles offshore. Within this area there will be two Marine Protected Areas (MPA), namely the Pringle Bay MPA and the existing Betty's Bay MPA. There will be a complex system of zonation in which all forms of marine life are protected somewhere. The zonation system was a compromised agreement between all fishing interests represented on the Hangklip Kleinmond Coastal Management Forum. The MPAs are an essential part of the strategy to rebuild over-exploited linefish and abalone stocks.

Fishing will remain an important activity in the Kogelberg Marine Park. Special permitting and quota systems may apply in the interests of preventing excessive harvests of valuable resources. A substantial effort will be made to ensure that local communities within the Kogelberg derive benefit from the harvest (and other uses) of marine resources in the area. Great importance is placed on the support of conservation measures by the local community. Tourism opportunities will also be developed as an alternative to harvesting, and this will require the development and upgrading of many coastal sites. Monitoring and enforcement will be improved by a high profile observer programme, which will ensure that officers are present at all times on the beach and on the water.

Seawatch

Seawatch operates a call centre where members of the public can report any suspected poaching or crayfishing out of legal hours, trawling too close to the marine zone, etc. Seawatch calls in the nearest and most appropriate law enforcement resource – sending in inspectors, speedboats or setting up road blocks.

Contact details


PHONE.  082 994 9300
24 HOUR MARINE OPS ROOM.  028 313 2703
MAIL.  richard@recirc.co.za

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Terrestrial Conservation

Conservation of biodiversity – landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic resources – is one of the three main functions of a biosphere reserve. In the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (KBR) there are many conservation bodies dedicated to conserving and protecting the unique marine and terrestrial biodiversity and spectacular landscapes of this area.

The protection of biodiversity in biosphere reserves is partly achieved by the commitment of the people who have made the area their home. Voluntarily they have created conservation driven NGOs and formed conservancies; they serve on environmental advisory boards, join village hack groups to clear alien invasive vegetation and even form 'Oystercatcher Nanny' groups to help protect the chicks of this vulnerable, beach-nesting bird.

Authorities with the official conservation responsibility are:

CapeNature

Western Cape Nature Conservation Board, trading as CapeNature, is a semi-government agency that manages many Western Cape nature reserves including the core area of Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Its vision is to establish a conservation economy in the Western Cape and to turn biodiversity conservation into a key component of local economic development processes in the province. CapeNature unequivocally supports the UNESCO biosphere reserve concept, as implemented under the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MaB), as a valuable mechanism for socio-economically sustainable biodiversity conservation in a landscape context. Although the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) has the statutory responsibility for the implementation of the biosphere reserve concept in the Western Cape Province, CapeNature is a supportive and key participant in the process, is a signatory to the KBR and has an office in the KBR.

New enabling legislation for biosphere reserves has been drafted by DEA&DP – the Western Cape Biosphere Reserves Act (Act 6 of 2011).

In the KBR, CapeNature's main focus is on the preservation of this wilderness area (ecological sanctuary) in order to conserve its unique concentration of biotic diversity. This includes the conservation of biotic communities of plants and animals within natural ecosystems, and the safeguarding of the genetic diversity of species on which their continuing evolution depends. It is also concerned with the maintenance of the hydrological functioning of the mountain catchment area, and the monitoring and detection of environmental change.

CapeNature can be supported through taking out a "Wild" card that gives you annual reduced cost entrance to the many reserves it manages. Contact 021 659 3606/3 for details.

In our area, CapeNature has just launched a Kogelberg Reserve Liaison Committee with the objective of getting local people more involved with the reserve and the reserve more involved with the local community. For details, contact the Conservation Manager: Mark Johns (028 271 5138).

Involved Municipalities

The KBR lies within the Overberg District Municipality and the Municipalities of Cape Town, Theewaterskloof and the Overstrand, all of whom recognise their responsibilities in upholding biosphere principles.

Conservancies

Conservancies are voluntary agreements between private landowners and the provincial conservation authority who both undertake to manage their environment according to sound conservation principles.

In the KBR, conservancies take two forms:
•  conventional land tracts owned by one or a few neighbouring property owners; and
•  the more unusual 'urban' conservancy.

Motivated by a desire to protect the scenic splendour of Rooiels and its environs, Rooiels became the first KBR village to form an urban conservancy in March 2004. Pringle Bay and Betty's Bay have also now registered as urban conservancies.

By uniting communities behind the desire to conserve, these urban conservancies can address a host of problems that typically plague human settlement areas: over-development, air, soil, noise and light pollution, illegal dumping, water wastage, waste pollution, litter, denudation of river banks, loss of wetlands, loss of indigenous flora through exotic gardens and invader plants with the resultant loss of bird-life and wildlife, etc.

By forming urban conservancies and embracing conservation principals, these communities enjoy a more beautiful, healthy environment with the added advantages of higher property values. And, by standing united behind a common cause, conservation communities can become a voice that actively promotes or disputes any issue concerning their environment. It is the combined co-operation of communities that form the principle of conservancy or local environmental management. The basic definition being "The democratic environmental management of the local environment by the local and user community."

In terms of the Nature and Environmental Conservation Ordinance, conservancies enjoy the usual protection of fauna, flora and natural resources, which applies to all landowners. It is up to Conservancy members to ensure that all necessary protection is applied.
 

CONSERVATION ASSOCIATIONS / NGOs

A place of such beauty – and the world's greatest biodiversity – naturally attracts people with a love of nature and the passion to conserve it. In addition to the conservancies there are a host of conservation orientated NGOs and associations:

■ The Overstrand Conservation Foundation (OCF)

With a mission to unify, co-ordinate and promote environmental conservation in the Overstrand, the OCF is the main 'umbrella body', set up to ensure more effective conservation management through co-ordinating the efforts of all the independent smaller bodies. A brief overview of the OCF's activities include:

  • The OCF assembles and disseminates a host of information and practical assistance of use to its members: from how to form a conservancy or news of unsuitable developments to new legislation.
  • On behalf of its members, it comments on proposed developments deemed to be unsuitable or unsustainable.
  • It promotes environmental education through activities such as the newly formed Overberg Environmental Education Forum. It has also applied to the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) for funding for an Eco-schools project in 2006 and 2007. To join the forum, contact the OCF on 028 316 2181.
  • The OCF co-ordinates hands-on job creation opportunities in eradication of alien vegetation and has just received R1,7 million in NLDTF funding for "KEEP", its 90 000 ha Kleinrivier Employment and Alien Vegetation Eradication Project.

The OCF is structured as a registered Non-Profit Organisation with a Management Board and full time office across the road from CapeNature in Onrus:

MANAGER.  Rob Fryer
MOBILE.  072 185 5726
PHONE.  028 316 2181
MAIL.  ocf@telkomsa.net
WEBSITE.  www.ocf.co.za

At the moment the OCF has some 72 member organizations – mainly conservancies, private nature reserves, environmental and tourism NGOs, ratepayer organizations and public sector agencies. Membership fees are R200 per year.
 

■ Kleinmond Nature Conservation Society

The main purpose of the Society is the conservation of the natural environment (within the concept of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve) primarily within the boundaries of the former Kleinmond Municipal area – essentially between the Palmiet and Bot Rivers. A brief overview of the Society's activities include:

  • The Society is represented on various advisory boards and organizations, for example the Spatial Development Framework, the Overstrand Conservation Foundation and Coast Care;
  • Advises the Municipality on the management of the Kleinmond Nature Reserve;
  • Advises and assists the Municipality with the building and maintenance of hiking trails and walks;
  • Helps with the eradication of alien vegetation in the Kleinmond Nature Reserve;
  • Had been actively involved with the expansion of the Kleinmond Nature Reserve to its present 800 hectares;
  • Identify and monitors plant species in the environment through botanically knowledgeable members;
  • Exhibits indigenous flowers in the library on a weekly basis;
  • Produced a booklet on walks and trails in the Kleinmond area, called 'Where to Walk', that is for sale at various outlets; and
  • Holds 4-5 day exhibitions of plant, animal and marine material annually in the Library Hall and bi-annually in the Community Hall.

The Society serves its approximately 350 members through the quarterly publication of its newsletter, Fynbos, the invitation of speakers to address the membership on a wide variety of applicable subjects and the activities of its Special Interest Groups. These are:

  • Marine and Shell Group — Convenor: Ian Cushny (028 273 8589);
  • Bird Study Group — Convenor: Avril Young (028 284 9181);
  • The Hack Group — Convenor: Gerhard van Wyk (028 271 4730); and
  • Friends of the Coastal Reserve — Convenor: Peter Müller (028 271 4741).
  • In addition, the Society maintains a close, if informal, relationship with the Kleinmond Hiking Club — Convenor: ? ();

The Society's activities are funded out of its membership fees, small cash donations, the sale of 'Where to Walk' books and larger donations sought for specific projects from bodies such as the Frank Robb Trust, the Francie de Klerk Trust, the Roland and Leta Hill Trust and WWF-SA.

The Society is a registered NPO, operates under a well-considered constitution and is managed by a committee of ten elected members and a few co-opted specialists.

CHAIRMAN.  Peter Müller
PHONE.  028 271 4741
SECRETARY.  Henriëtte Botha
PHONE.  028 271 3937
POSTAL ADDRESS.  P.O. Box 2, Kleinmond 7195

Enquiries on any matter can be addressed to the Chairman, Secretary or any other committee member. New members are welcome. Annual membership fees are R20 per individual or R30 per couple and life membership fees are R120 per individual or R150 per couple.
 

■ BotSoc, Kogelberg branch
■ BotFriends, Friends of the Botrivier Estuary and Environs
■ The Hangklip Heritage Trust

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Water Conservation

Assuring a supply of potable water is becoming an increasing challenge all over South Africa as urban populations continue to expand. The KBR obtains most of its water from the Palmiet River system. Heavily utilized, the Palmiet is used by farmers in the inland transition zone, to fill the dams employed by ESKOM to create power for the national electrical grid, and to provide water to villages in and near the Biosphere Reserve. The lack of water is a factor limiting the carrying capacity of the area.

Even with about 40% of erven yet to be developed and some 70% of homes in the KBR's coastal villages only occupied on weekends or holiday-times, water restrictions are frequently imposed.

Water conservation and recycling must become a priority in the KBR. Not only do we need to manage this scarce resource, but is vital that everyone is motivated to make water conservation a way of life.

To meet future demands, the Overstrand Municipality has recently completed a water services development plan while investigations into alternative water resources – desalinated water, groundwater and reused water – are ongoing.

The City of Cape Town is facing even bigger problems and is looking to tap into aquifers within the KBR as a potential solution.

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