The Forum is devastated by the damage done to the Princess Vlei eastern shoreline and restoration area.
On 6 May, concerned citizen Zoe Poulsen spotted an earth mover ripping up the shoreline vegetation and dumping the biomass on botanically sensitive areas - including a plot that was restored by the Forum last year as part of the community-led fynbos restoration project.
As Zoe had herself grown some of the plants for this restoration, she did not hesitate to stand in front of the machine until she could alert someone in authority to prevent further damage. Without her fortuitous presence and courage, the entire eastern shoreline and restoration area, including hundreds of plants put in by school learners, would have been destroyed.
However, the operator of the machine had already caused catastrophic ecological damage to the vlei (see area marked in red on the photograph below).
Although this is the most damaging, it is not the first incident. In 2018, a Western Leopard Toad breeding site was destroyed by a contractor removing water hyacinth. In 2019, a contractor dumped biomass on one of the older restoration sites, causing major damage to the plants. After this, a map was drawn up delineating where the machine could safely move and dump material, and the City undertook to inform the Forum’s biodiversity project manager, Denisha Anand, whenever the contractor was on site. Unfortunately, these protocols were not followed, leading to this tragic result.
The GPVCA forms part of the City of Cape Town’s biodiversity network, and the City is obliged to manage it as a biodiversity sensitive site, by agreement with Cape Nature. The area has also recently been declared a Provincial Heritage Site in recognition of its biodiversity and cultural value.
As a biodiversity sensitive site, it is vital that utmost care be taken with mechanical operations on site. This act demonstrates an extreme lack of care. While the ward councillor and some officials have supported the restoration and revitalisation of the area, this is not upheld by the overall management of the site. Princess Vlei has suffered from chronic neglect, going back several decades to the apartheid era. This neglect continues, as the level of care and attention given remains far short of that given to equivalent areas in wealthy, formerly white areas in Cape Town.
This incident highlights:
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.