Paarden Eiland Wetland to get protection status
The City of Cape Town is forging ahead with the process of securing environmental protection status for the Paarden Eiland Wetland, also known as the Zoarvlei. The wetland is all that remains of what was once an extensive esturine system. The Paarden Eiland wetland is now completely cut off from other water courses. It is an area with a high biodiversity rate of plants, insects, birds and small mammals.The protection status is part of a city-wide programme spearheaded by the Biodiversity Management Branch, in consultation with CapeNature, to select and promote conservation areas in places worthy of legal protection, to enforce conservation.
Chairperson of the Planning and Environment Portolio Committee (PEPCO), Alderman Brian Watkyns, said he was pleased with the progress that has been made. “The Paarden Eiland Wetland is an important site and must be recognised as such. This process will ensure that it is protected in perpetuity,” he said.
CapeNature is the provincial authority that is mandated to propose forms of legal protection and to submit such applications to the MEC for promulgation over land falling within the Western Cape. Their Stewardship Programme employs the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (No. 57 of 2003) and the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board Act (No. 15 of 1998) to achieve this.
The CapeNature Stewardship Review Committee is delegated to review protection status applications from land owners in terms of the land’s inherent biodiversity values and ecological significance. The strongest protection status that can be awarded to a conservation area is that of ‘contract nature reserve’ in terms of the Protected Areas Act. Such areas are typically rich in biodiversity and comprise landscapes containing valuable ecological processes. Conservation areas that are not contenders for this prestigious status can be designated as ‘biodiversity agreements’ or ‘voluntary conservation areas’ in terms of the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board Act.
The CapeNature Stewardship Committee reviewed the application to secure protection status for Paarden Eiland Wetland on 25 February 2010. The committee considered the designation of ‘voluntary conservation area’ appropriate for this wetland. Further recommendations stemming from this review include that the land be rezoned as Public Open Space 3 (POS 3) and that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) be drawn up between the relevant City departments that are involved with the management of the land. City Parks are the principal line function responsible for the management of the wetland, but other departments entrusted with responsibilities include the Roads & Stormwater, Catchment Management and Biodiversity Management branches.
The City of Cape Town and CapeNature need to sign a voluntary conservation agreement for the Paarden Eiland Wetland but do not need to submit an application to the MEC.