Amongst the 30 or so participants were members of the ARD athletics club , who are interested in exploring the development of a walking/ running tracks around Princess Vlei to use for cross country races and training.
Dalton Gibbs, regional manager of the City of Cape Town's Biodiversity Management Branch, addressed the gathering on the fascinating ecological history of Princess Vlei and the other vleis in the area. He explained that the vlei formed part of what was once a huge wetland system that expanded in summer and shrank in winter. As human activity had had a major impact on the the natural systems of this and other vleis it would not be possible to restore it to its original form, but a lot could be done to rehabilitate it and boost the biodiversity of the site. He said that eastern shore of Princess Vlei contained remnants of the highly endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, and it was important to try to restore this as much as possible.
“The challenge is always to balance human needs and environmental needs.” Gibbs said that it was important to restore the water quality of the vlei as far as possible, especially as this vlei feeds all the others in the system. However, there efforts were hampered by the ongoing impact of human activity, and the shortage of resources.
The walk once again demonstrated both the tremendous potential for this area as a recreational natural park, and also the many challenges of pollution and dumping to this site. In the coming months, the Princess Vlei Forum will be engaging with the City on implementing improvements to the site. All who have ideas on this can contact us, or fill in our on-line survey.