Unlawful occupation of land at Driftsands Nature Reserve
The Driftsands Nature Reserve has been subjected to the unlawful occupation of land for the past six weeks. Portions of the reserve hasve unfortunately been taken over by hundreds of illegal structures.
When CapeNature first noticed attempts at unlawful occupation of Driftsands Nature Reserve, of which it is the custodian, it followed due process up to the point where a provisional court order was granted, effectively prohibiting the erection of any illegal structures and permitting the removal of illegally erected structures within the boundaries of the reserve. Copies of the order were affixed within the boundaries of the reserve and served on community leaders, informing them of the issue and the implications of the court order.
A number of partially erected and unoccupied illegal structures have already been removed. Reserve Management continue to monitor the site and are in collaboration with the City of Cape Town’s Anti-land Invasion Unit and Law Enforcement, and the South African Police Service to stabilise the invasion and to maintain the integrity of areas not yet overrun by structures. CapeNature continue to work with the South African Human Rights Commission who have played a key role in engaging with the community and oversee the execution of the court
order as independent monitors.
CapeNature’s CEO, Dr Razeena Omar says that “CapeNature is fully aware of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s livelihoods and we do not stand unsympathetic towards the plight of the homeless during this strenuous times. On the other hand we also have a responsibility to protect valuable ecological land for now and for future generations.”
Ecological and cultural value of Driftsands Nature Reserve
Driftsands Nature Reserve contributes to the protection of Cape Flats Dune Strandveld, an endangered vegetation type, endemic to Cape Town. Of the 6,146 ha of Cape Flats Dune Strandveld remaining, only 2,092 hectares are protected. Driftsands Nature Reserve accounts for approximately 24% of the protection afforded to this vegetation type.
The wetlands on Driftsands Nature Reserve are highly sensitive and these systems and their associated ecosystems are critical in the urban landscape, providing refuge for freshwater and terrestrial species and serving an important ecosystem service of flood attenuation in an urban environment where most surfaces have been hardened. Furthermore, Driftsands Nature Reserve provides access for cultural and/or religious practices and provides opportunities for environmental education. A number of people from the local community have also been employed by CapeNature to work at the reserve.