Land reserved for biodiversity

Lewine Walters and her colleague Devin Heuvel at Erf 1210 on Wednesday December 4.

A chunk of land behind the Mitchell’s Plain wastewater treatment works in Strandfontein and Rocklands is to be reserved as a biodiversity offset as part of the application for environmental authorisation for the proposed Blueberry Hill Breaking New Ground housing development.

This was discussed at the monthly Sub-council 23 meeting on Monday November 18 and they supported the motion that Erf 1210, which is City-owned land, be reserved.

During the environmental authorisation process for the Blueberry Hill development it was found that there was a 14 hectare remnant of Cape Flats Dune Strandveld on the site. One of the potential options to mitigate for the loss of this remnant was to consider an offsite biodiversity offset and this is how Erf 1210 was identified and subsequently reserved.

Erf 1210 contains endangered Cape Flats Dune Strandveld and abuts the Vesuvius Way conservation area in Bayview.

Cape Flats Dune Strandveld is endemic to Cape Town and this subtype is considered to be critically endangered. The site is in a relatively good condition and 23.16 hectares or nearly 80% is intact or semi-intact, but even the semi-intact areas are species rich and restorable.

It is true that there are some degraded areas, but this only constitutes 1.28 hectares of the site, and is a result of soil disturbance and dumping, but this can be restored, said Marian Nieuwoudt, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment.

The conservation of this site is a priority, due to the endangered Cape Flats Dune Strandveld, and because it will serve as an ecological connection between the False Bay coastline and the False Bay Nature Reserve.

The Erf 1210, 21 Batho Pele Lane, Strandfontein, was found last year and borders the streets of Spine Road, Bayview, San Remo and neighbouring Strandfontein.

Lewine Walters, area co-ordinator for the City’s biodiversity management branch in the spatial planning and environment directorate, said a rare butterfly, Kedestis Lenis Lenis, was found at the site that is critically endangered.

The butterfly dwells on sword grass which is special to the butterfly as it helps the butterfly reproduce, said Ms Walters.

Visiting the site on Wednesday December 4, Ms Walters said the site also contains some wetlands and the sword grass was found metres away in Strandfontein which means Erf 1210 is somehow connected to the Strandfontein area where the same grass is growing.

There have been reports of people bringing their dogs to hunt the grounds for birds or other animals, dumping, quad biking, handmade snares to catch animals, theft and woodcutting on Erf 1210. All these issues affect the reserved area, making it challenging to monitor the area, Ms Walters said.

The sub-council said they would like to see paths created for people to use and have environmental education officers at the site.

Ms Nieuwoudt said the land will be managed holistically as part of the Vesuvius Way conservation area.

The City is committed to conserving and restoring our unique heritage in a person-centred way,” she said.