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Proudly nurturing nature for you for the last 20 years

by CapeNature

When somebody mentions CapeNature, what images are evoked in your mind?

If you’re a nature lover, then the chances are good that you’ve visited at least one of the many CapeNature reserves located around the Western Cape where you’ve splashed in pristine rock pools, admired glorious sunsets over the ocean, gone horse riding or taken a leisurely hike through lush forests and soaring mountains. You’ve probably enjoyed the solitude and grandeur of nature in our reserves – camping under the stars, ‘glamping’ in luxury, safari-style tents, or enjoying our modern, luxury eco-cabins.

We strive to deliver the best eco tourism locations for our visitors – but the management of these beautiful reserves is only a small part of what CapeNature does.  This year we celebrate 20 years of nurturing nature for you but how well do you know CapeNature?

10 things you probably didn’t know about CapeNature

CapeNature is a public institution with the statutory responsibility for biodiversity conservation in the Western Cape. It is governed by the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board Act 15 of 1998 and mandated to: promote and ensure nature conservation; render services and provide facilities for research and training; and generate income.

CapeNature is driven by the vision of ‘conserving nature for a sustainable future’ and our mission is ‘to manage, conserve and promote our human, natural and heritage assets through best practice, access, benefit sharing and sustainable use.’ We’ve been entrusted to conserve the unique natural heritage resources of the Western Cape for the benefit of all.

Let’s take a closer look at how we’ve been making this vision a reality over the last 2o years.

1) We’re biological diversity superheroes

Biodiversity is crucial to our survival. It provides us with clean air, food, economic opportunities, medicine, soil for agriculture and recreational enjoyment. It is the biological and social capital that supports the entire human race. The Western Cape is rich in its biodiversity and in the Cape Floristic Region alone there are an estimated 9500 species, 70% of which are endemic to the area.

CapeNature has been compiling State of Biodiversity reports every five years since 2002. These reports provide an indication of the state of the ecosystems of the Western Cape Province (WCP). The 2017 report provides some insights into the current health of the WCP’s biodiversity, species and ecosystems. The video below presents some of the most important findings while the full report can be downloaded here.

CapeNature is in a unique position to collect information that represents the state of biodiversity and ecosystem health over a sufficiently long period of time to observe trends. To achieve this, appropriate, good quality and consistent monitoring is required. Once monitoring has been completed, data needs vetting, collation and formal storage before the important work of analysis and interpretation to translate the findings into management recommendations can be tackled.

This is an ongoing challenge given the complexity and variability of the WCP environment and we are grateful for  our partner organisations in the form of tertiary institutions, NGOs, government colleagues and committed individuals who work collaboratively on this common challenge.

2) We’re guardians of the land

CapeNature works in partnership with private landowners, communities, agricultural businesses and other stakeholders to ensure biodiversity survives in a changing climate outside protected areas with tangible benefits to the local communities and shareholders.

As most of the province’s biodiversity is in private ownership, CapeNature initiated the Biodiversity Stewardship programme in 2003. This programme facilitates conservation on privately owned land by setting up agreements between the landowners and CapeNature.

CapeNature Stewardship

Working with landowners to promote conservation and biodiversity

Landowners undertake to protect and manage their properties or parts thereof according to sound conservation management principles. CapeNature undertakes to support this management by providing advice, management plans and assistance in planning invasive alien species clearing and fire management schedules. It also allows for the private landowner to benefit more from the biodiversity through ecologically sensitive income-generating avenues such as eco-tourism or green labelling of agricultural produce (e.g. Business and Biodiversity Initiatives).

The vision of stewardship
•    To ensure that privately owned areas with high biodiversity value receive secure conservation status and are linked to a network of other conservation areas in the landscape.
•    To ensure that landowners who commit their property to a stewardship option, will enjoy tangible benefits for their conservation actions.
•    To expand biodiversity conservation by encouraging commitment to, and implementation of, good biodiversity management practice, on privately owned land, in such a way that the private landowner becomes an empowered decision maker.

Read more about CapeNature stewardship sites

Read more about conservancies in the Western Cape

3) We deliver drinking water and fight fire

CapeNature plays a crucial role in ensuring the Western Cape has a sustainable supply of clean, fresh and potable water to support our population and a growing economy. Mountain catchments refer to areas where water is naturally collected and channelled to rivers.

Biodiversity - CapeNature waterfall

Mountain catchments channel precious rainwater

We use an integrated approach in our management of the Western Cape’s catchment areas, which “catch” rainfall runoff. The catchment areas we manage provide up to 60% of the potable water used in the province.

Integrated catchment management is holistic, focusing on both water and land management, as the two are inextricably connected. A change to the broader environment may have a profound effect on a water cycle. CapeNature efficiently manages natural water resources to ensure a sustainable water supply for communities, balancing the need to protect this precious resource with the needs of industry and agriculture. More recently, CapeNature provided strategic management as well as scientific decision and in-field support for groundwater exploration and abstraction that forms part of water augmentation activities by local authorities to alleviate the water supply crisis in the Western Cape.

As part of catchment management, we work to control fires and invasive alien plant species to protect the ecosystems surrounding catchment areas, while guiding land-use planning and development. Integrated catchment management allows CapeNature to establish and strengthen partnerships with municipalities, fire associations and non-government organisations and public-sector programmes.

4) We empower and equip communities

CapeNature contributes to focused and proactive community development by exerting strategic influence at key provincial forums such as the Western Cape Forestry Sector Forum and Jonkershoek Stakeholders Housing Intergovernmental Committee. A recent example of local empowerment is the On The Edge Restaurant at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay which has yielded a profit for the Mooiuitsig Trust which represents a small community outside Kleinmond which faces social ills such as substance abuse, crime, unemployment and poverty. This community was granted commercial rights to manage the restaurant and the Mooiuitsig Trust has appointed three permanent employees and five casual workers, all members of the local community. They are also using local suppliers for their daily purchases. Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) were supported in a wide range of product development such as sourfig jam, honeybush tea, aloe powder and buchu water. CapeNature’s formalised approach to rooikrans harvesting at De Hoop is positively impacting local contractors who is provided with free access and technical support where required.

Sarah Niemand is a proud beneficiary of CapeNature’s SMME Development Programme

CapeNature partners with the Department of Labour, South African Revenue Service, Nedbank, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, Department of Economic Development and Tourism and Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) to provide business acumen for the appointed SMMEs. Just some of the services provided by SMMEs included laundry services at eco-tourism sites, gate guarding, hiking trail maintenance, fire breaks maintenance and firefighting.

5) We deliver scientific study and research excellence

The Scientific Services Unit (SSU) provides a professional scientific support service to conservation management in the Western Cape Province. Members of the SSU are experts in the fields of indigenous freshwater aquatic ecosystems, plants, invertebrates, freshwater fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals to ensure the continuation of our conservation services.

The SSU also acts as a hub of biodiversity information and interacts regularly with the public as a result of requests for comments, information and advice on a range of scientific topics, including threatened species and biodiversity research. Every five years the SSU produces a State of Biodiversity Report to document the state of biodiversity, protected areas and freshwater and estuarine ecosystems in the Western Cape. The report reflects progress made with the conservation, research and monitoring of the province’s unique biodiversity and ecosystems.

Marine research at De Hoop Nature Reserve

Our scientists work closely with universities in the Western Cape to promote research required to inform conservation management. During the 2017/2018 period alone, CapeNature authored and co-authored 15 peer-reviewed scientific publications, one chapter in a book and five scientific reports, including one MSc thesis. Representation was made through the presentation of seven oral papers at national conferences.

6) We facilitate training and social development

CapeNature successfully applied and received funding to implement a Youth Environmental Services (YES) Programme over a period of two years. This programme is aimed at youth with a minimum qualification of Grade 12 for enrolment. One hundred and thirty-six (136) youths were successfully recruited and have thus far been enrolled for the Natural Resource Guardianship Skills Programme at various institutions, for the following disciplines: Assistant Chef, New Venture Creation, Tourism Guiding, and Community House Building. The learners receive a monthly stipend and are supported to develop environmental expertise by CapeNature employees who fulfil the role of mentors.

Proud YES programme graduates

Interventions are also regularly conducted with community groups and Natural Resource User Groups (NRUGs) on a wider range of topics which included fire awareness, water saving, fauna and flora permits, harvesting of natural resource protocols, and access to protected areas for varied purposes. Special interest groups were engaged on natural resource abstraction through structured People and Parks NRUG meetings and on an individual basis.

The provincial Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) implemented in CapeNature has created jobs for 552 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs). This has provided various key training and development opportunities to all the EPWP beneficiaries employed by CapeNature. Jobs are predominantly offered to the designated groups as per the Department of Labour, being females (60,3%), youth (74,3%) and people with disabilities (3,3%). The EPWP job opportunities are positively impacting on quality of life in the rural landscape especially for the communities living adjacent to the nature reserves.

In addition the target for the appointment of Work Integrated Learners (WIL) has been exceeded by seven; thus facilitating the internship of 17 WIL, four of whom are placed in the Coastal Management Programme.

7) We foster environmental education and awareness

The provision of environmental education and awareness is imbedded in the mandate of the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board. The strategy implemented has been aimed at capacity building programmes for teachers in collaboration with other role players whilst providing schools with curriculum aligned environmental education programmes. Collaborations with provincial and national departments on key environmental days have been successful during the period under review. A growing interest has been noted in CapeNature’s learning centres, where CapeNature has invested funding to improve the facilities on offer.

Teaching youth groups about conservation and biodiversity

8) We regulate the transport and ownership of local species

CapeNature is the regulatory authority in the Western Cape for the issuing of permits for fauna, flora, hunting and CITES. Through the Permit Office, CapeNature strives to provide administrative support which is effective, fair and efficient, and monitor compliance in terms of all relevant environmental legislation.

We’ve developed and implemented a new electronic permit system which includes a public self-service portal on the CapeNature website which allows the applicant to upload completed application forms with supporting documents and to track each step in the application process. Once approved, the permit is sent electronically to the client. This new system has introduced a more effective and efficient way of delivering the service to clients, permit applications and the processing of permit applications within legislative frameworks.

9) We’re wildlife crime busters

Wildlife crime is considered the fourth most important form of organised crime globally and it is reported that the annual cost of illegal wildlife poaching and trafficking is in the range of US$5-23 billion . The unique plants and animals of the Western Cape are a big drawcard for illegal wildlife crime and our unique succulent plants, dwarf adders, girdled lizards and tortoises are targeted by both national and international individuals and syndicates. CapeNature’s strong relationship with provincial and national prosecuting authorities has produced significant results in the prosecution of perpetrators. During the 2017/18 financial year alone, CapeNature compliance personnel conducted 143 enforcement actions. These enforcement actions involved the registration of 45 case dockets and the issuance of 98 J534 admission of guilt fines to the value of R127 250.

Tortoises recovered during a successful smuggling prosecution

10) We protect and conserve local plant and animal species

The WCP has a very large number of indigenous species but also a very large number of these species are considered threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and a very large proportion of species are endemic to the WCP, making CapeNature the sole responsible organisation for many species. Species are evaluated as threatened or not by application of formal assessment of threat according to IUCN Red Listing criteria and CapeNature is actively involved in providing information for and conducting these assessments which are typically facilitated by SANBI’s Threatened Species Programme.

CapeNature also currently manages six Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs: Oceans and Coast, namely Robberg, Goukamma, Stillbaai, De Hoop, Betty’s Bay and Rocherpan.

Marine protected areas aim to conserve marine life and promote the conservation and effective management of biodiverse marine areas. They are an example of successful collaboration between civil society, communities and government to take care of our natural resources, particularly our marine resources.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know us better – it’s been a privilege to nurture nature on your behalf for the last 20 years and we look forward to the future with anticipation and a renewed sense of purpose.

 

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