A 36-hectare area in Cape Town that was once used largely as a landfill has been transformed into one of the city’s most important nature reserves, home to more than 300 plant species, 10 of which are endemic to Cape Town and threatened with extinction.
After a decade of hard work – and a R2-million investment – the once deteriorated and deserted Bracken Nature Reserve has been rehabilitated and restored into a environmental space that can be enjoyed by all the city’s residents, the City of Cape Town said in a statement last week.
Bracken Nature Reserve was named as the reserve of 2014 by the city’s Environmental Resource Management Department.
The rehabilitation project started with the planting of 60 indigenous trees including, karee, real yellowwood, wild peach, Cape ash, wild camphor and milkwood, which are still growing well.
Councillor Johan van der Merwe, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, singled out Tshepo Mamabalo for her will and vision in transforming the space.
Mamabolo’s involvement began when she was doing a city internship at the reserve. “With the support of the reserve team, she dedicated her passion and energy to transforming the site into what it is today,” Van der Merwe said.
Mamabolo is now the area co-ordinator.
The 36-hectare reserve is home to Swartland granite renosterveld and Cape sand fynbos, both of which “suffer a dearth of conservation consideration”, the city said.
Important species include cowslip (Lachenalia aloides) and the canary yellow vygie (Lampranthus glaucus).
The reserve also supports a great diversity of wildlife. Regularly sighted birds are the red-capped lark, black-shouldered kite, peregrine falcon and southern double-collared sunbird. Other mammal species found in the reserve include the small grey mongoose and a myriad of rodents and reptiles.
“Currently there is only one known plant of the critically endangered Kraaifontein spiderhead (Serruria furcellata) remaining naturally in the wild in Northpine,” Van der Merwe said.
“The reserve has been surveyed and found to have great potential as a receptor site for this critically endangered species. Cuttings from the original plant were planted and, to date, 20 healthy plants are conserved at the reserve.”
The City manages 16 nature reserves across Cape Town. During the 2013/2014 financial year, visitor numbers to City reserves increased by 32% to 351 594 visitors (2012/2013: 266 195 visitors).
“The tremendous turnaround of the Bracken Nature Reserve is a good example of how, when the city sows the seeds of collaborative partnerships, the community and the surrounding environment will reap the benefits,” Van Der Merwe said.
“It is of paramount importance that we place a higher financial and environmental value on our nature reserves so that, together, we can make progress possible in building a sustainable future,” he said.