Minister Marais declares Blaauwberg Nature Reserve a provincial heritage site
Tuesday, 24 August 2021, Minister Anroux Marais officially unveiled the Provincial Heritage Site plaque at the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve.
Together with the expert assistance of Heritage Western Cape, the City of Cape Town’s facilitation and valued input from the Protected Areas Advisory Committee of the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve and Friends of the Blaauwberg Conservation Area, the socio-political, historical, aesthetic and scientific significance of this site is now officially acknowledged and will rightfully be promoted in the public domain as a Provincial Heritage Site.
The Blaauwberg Nature Reserve over and above being a significant natural heritage site, is a significant cultural heritage site with archaeological and built environment components spanning the last 2000 years.
During the keynote address, Minister Marais said, “On the aesthetic front, Blaauwberg Hill and Kleinberg are landmarks within the cultural and natural landscape. There is an uninterrupted view from Blaauwberg Hill of Robben Island and Table Mountain, which are both World Heritage Sites. This makes it the only place in Cape Town where two World Heritage Sites can be viewed simultaneously, which I am sure would be a TikTokker’s delight in a bid to uncover unknown gems to share with the world of social media”.
This site contains the archaeological remnants of three historical stock farms: namely Weberskraal, Meybooms Dam and a portion of Sleutel can Compagnies Dam, as well as the portion of outspan and farm of Blaauwbergvlei which served as outspan to the northern road and field hospital during the 1806 Battle of Blaauwberg.
The Blaauwberg Nature Reserve is also in possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of South Africa’s natural and cultural heritage. It conserves three indigenous vegetation: Cape Flats dune strandveld, now endangered; Swartland shale renosterveld, currently critically endangered and the Cape Flats sand Fynbos, also critically endangered.
The 1806 Battle Site is the only battlefield in the Western Cape where the site has remained undeveloped and the original topography is visible. It is the second, and last, battle of occupation to take place at the Cape of Good Hope between two “colonizing” powers.
As we bestow the Provincial Heritage Site status on this site, we considered the potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of South Africa’s natural and cultural heritage. Work undertaken by the Biodiversity Branch of the City of Cape Town, in association with the University of Cape Town, has contributed to increased understanding and implementation in the practice of restoration of endangered and critically endangered vegetation types and alien vegetation clearance.
The Battle of Blaauwberg has an indirect association with the Muslim Community of Cape Town, many of whom were slaves or decedents of slaves at the time that the battle was fought. In recognition of the contribution made by the Javanese Regiment in the defence of the Cape, the Muslim community was granted its own burial ground, the Tana Baru.
The Provincial Heritage Site status will now communicate clearly that the heritage community and agencies consider this site to be a major and important heritage asset that warrants serious and focussed conservation attention from all parties. Provincial Heritage Site status immediately provides the full protection to these sites described in the National Heritage Resources Act (1999). This is indeed welcomed by the Western Cape Government as we can all agree that the value of Blaauwberg Nature Reserve lies in its historical nature, amplified by its socio-political and scientific significance.
Spokesperson for the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais
083 504 1171