Piece by small piece the Princess Vlei Forum is working to restore and rehabilitate the land around Princess Vlei. On Saturday 18 May, thirty local residents, Stellenbosch University students, and various Lions’ Clubs came together on Saturday 18 May to restore the indigenous vegetation at Princess Vlei.
While this work has been ongoing for several years, the project gained new life when the Forum employed a manager for the site, and contracted the services of fynbos restoration expert Alex Lansdowne to draw up a five year rehabilitation plan. The aim of this is to help the damaged ecosystem at Princess Vlei recover and secure biodiversity on site.
Plants put in include five hundred Cape Flats fynbos and dune strandveld plants that had been propagated locally from plants that are known to have occurred naturally around the vlei. The group also sowed seeds of flowering plants such as the rain daisies, to recreate a strandveld meadow – which hopefully will create a carpet of colourful flowers this spring.
Once habitat condition, has been improved, the Forum will embark on species conservation. Erica verticillata (Extinct in the Wild), Leucadendron floridum (Critically Endangered) and Serruria foeniculacea (Critically Endangered) are three threatened species endemic to the city of Cape Town that once occurred at Princess Vlei.
This project is supported by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, managed by Nedbank Private Wealth
There are some exciting developments at Princess Vlei – but the ongoing active engagement of the community is critical to enable the area to thrive.
This was the message of the community members who gathered at the Princess Vlei Open Day in Grassy Park on the evening of March 27.
Five years ago, the Princess Vlei Forum launched a community campaign to create a vision for the space through workshops, surveys, and discussion. This vision has been revisited with communities regularly, and has guided our engagement with the City of Cape Town to leverage resources and implement improvements.
A representative from City of Cape Town’s Recreation and Parks Department, presented some of the City’s long term plans for Princess vlei
These include a children’s adventure play park, which will shortly be erected on the eastern shore, and a walkway/ jogging track to circumnavigate the vlei. The proposed track offers a five kilometre trail, and will be suitable for use as a Park run.
Draft concept plans with proposed improvements to the Princess Vlei Eco-adventure centre on the Western shore were also presented for comment.
Alex Lansdowne, a fynbos restoration expert who has been contracted by the Princess Vlei Forum, spoke about the five-year restoration plan through which the Forum plans to restore the natural ecosystems on site.
Also on display were plans and a model showing a small pavilion to be used as a classroom, exhibition space or tearoom. The Princess Vlei Forum is currently exploring ways to fund this initiative.
A video featuring interviews with people around the Legend of the Princess, was also screened to launch an Oral History Project to capture the Vlei’s rich cultural heritage – an initiative of the Princess Vlei Heritage Committee.
An important proposal currently being explored is holding a regular ‘pop-up’ market. A group discussion on this generated valuable guidelines. Important among these were that the market should
The other group discussed ways to protect the Princess Vlei from threats posed by dumping, vandalism, illegal vehicle use, sand mining, vagrancy and other anti-social activity. Recently, the Forum has raised funds to employ a full time manager, and the City has deployed twenty-four hour specialised rangers. While these interventions have greatly alleviated the problems, these activities remain an ongoing threat to efforts to rehabilitate and beautify the site.
The group considered the possibility of fencing all or part of the conservation area to minimise or eliminate these threats. It was agreed that any fencing must not impede access to those who want to enjoy the vlei’s natural beauty, and that community consultation is essential.
The group also raised the need to protect the site in the long term from the threat of inappropriate development. All agreed that while it was important to explore protective mechanisms such as acquiring heritage status, one of the best ways to protect the area is to restore its natural beauty and biodiversity, enhance its cultural heritage value and to continue promoting its value as a space for nature lovers and the general community.
We look forward to engaging with community members further on these issues. To find out more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.