Stakeholders attend Provincial Biodiversity Strategy and Action Planning Session
Cape Town – On Wednesday 11 March, 30 delegates from City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government, Local Municipalities and consultancies gathered for a strategy workshop on Biodiversity in the Western Cape.
Fittingly, the Table Bay Nature Reserve Rietvlei Boma hosted the conference. Introduction and key-note address by the Head of Department for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Piet van Zyl welcomed guests and drove home the importance of Western Cape’s unique biosphere, “Our ‘gold’ sits above ground. We are endowed with natural resources of global significance. The unparalleled beauty of our nature areas, coasts and beaches are the foundation for a thriving tourism economy.”
The aim of the workshop is to address the approach of the rollout of the preservation of biodiversity in regional environmental policies and to provide strategic context for the Provincial Biodiversity Strategy and Action Planning (PBSAP) initiative.
Laurel Robertson, Town and Regional Planner for Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, provided an overview of the soon to be implemented new planning legislation. Particular attention was given to highlighting how the new legislation aims to preserve biodiversity, ecological, heritage and agricultural resources. The Provincial legislation (the Western Cape Land Use Planning Act, Act 3 of 2014) makes allowances for development applications to be processed in an integrated manner. This provision aims to reduce duplicate application processes and it strengthens the link between environmental and land use planning.
Intense break away sessions were held amongst delegates to build further awareness of the PBSAP and to receive their input on the suggested vision, over-arching goals and strategic objectives and outcomes in the PBSAP draft document.
The workshop revealed that the Western Cape is home to a significant part of the Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK), the world’s smallest plant kingdom that is found within the boundaries of only one country. The global importance is demonstrable by the province having:
a World Heritage Site consisting of a constellation of eight areas representing the Cape Floristic Region and encompassing the core of our conservation estate,
six Ramsar sites that include De Mond, De Hoop, Verlorevlei, Langebaan Lagoon, the Wilderness Lake and with the False Bay Nature Reserve being the most recently inscribed Ramsar site.
three Biosphere reserves (Kogelberg, Cape West Coast and the Cape Winelands) and a new Biosphere in development in the Gouritz area.
the iconic Table Mountain, which in recent years was added to the list of one of the new 7 wonders of nature.
Van Zyl concluded that the Western Cape’s natural resources are not only of global significance but are also the foundation of the Western Cape’s economy and the anchor for the trajectory of identified areas for future economic growth, “It is often the case however that we do not appropriately value these resources. Quoting Pavan Sukdev, the progenitor of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – TEEB, “we use nature because she is valuable, we lose nature because she is free”.