ANNUAL REPORT OF HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2015
The Biosphere gives back:
The CWCBR implements donor funded projects from government as well as private avenues. On 11 December 2015 the CWCBR held their annual welcome campaign at the West Coast Farm Stall where tourists were greeted with information hampers. The CWCBR also donated food and clothing to Tygerberg Meals on Wheels Project. Throughout 2015, the CWCBR staff collected dry goods and clothes by bringing an item to every meeting. By bringing small items over a long period, the CWCBR accumulated enough to sustain a soup kitchen for a few weeks.
This just goes to show that a little can in fact go a long way and everyone can help their neighbours even if you don’t have much yourself.
The CWCBR would like to implement a similar campaign throughout 2016 and urge people on the West Coast to set aside things for someone in need instead of throwing it away.
Saying Hi and Goodbye:
In the last year, we had to say goodbye to a few of our trusted employees and sadly also lost one of our devoted staff members, our financial administrator, Div Muller due to his unfortunate death. Mr. John Thorp (Project Manager); Armstrong Simango (Assistant Project Manager); Fenny Ferris (Environmental Educator) and Val Priestley (Office Administration) has moved on to greener pastures. We just want to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work and their dedication to our company over the past few years, and we wish them well in their new positions.
Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails Project:
Our trails are marketed and operated in line with responsible tourism principles. Delivering the keynote address at the launch of the trails, Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, said:
"The Western Cape Government is a signatory to the South African National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism and we are fully aligned to the national strategy that encourages responsible tourism principles. A number of responsible tourism initiatives are currently being run in the Western Cape, including the City of Cape Town's Responsible Tourism pilot project. It is important that all tourism operators in the province ensure that they operate responsibly. I commend the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve for this initiative that will not only augment the local economy and create job opportunities, but also ensure that they do so responsibly."
We can proudly say that we have done nothing less than what we have promised. Our trails have just recently been re-audited by Mr. Leon Hugo of the Green Flag Accreditation and have successfully been rewarded with a green flag. The Green Flag Accreditation, though its unique audit procedure intensifies, acknowledges and rewards trails that demonstrate responsibly and sustainable trail management practices.
Lately, we had the pleasure of having people from as near as Cape Town and as far as Germany, Spain and France. We also had the pleasure of hosting the Pasella team with Ivan Zimmerman and Lynelle Kenned and their camera team on our Darling Stagger trail in April 2015.
Recently we closed our Berg River Canoe trail due to various reasons such as drought in the area. But don’t feel let down; because we are now in the process of getting our newest “Heritage Route” trail. The planned heritage trail is envisaged to be a 2, 5-day journey through time with a strong focus on connecting the guests with cultural and natural heritage. The route will link !Khwa-ttu cultural Centre to the West Coast Fossil Park. On the way, hikers trek through pristine natural heritage in Elandsfontein Nature Reserve and explore a Provincial Heritage Site declared on the property. This project protects natural and cultural heritage through a promotion of a market-driven, responsible, community operated and locally serviced heritage trail. We are planning to Lunch in September 2016 so stay in tuned because things are on the happening in the CWCBR.
Afrisam - Cementing a Natural Partnership:
AfriSam has set aside an area 522.25 ha in size for conservation through a stewardship process. It will be awarded the highest level of stewardship: Contract Nature Reserve status. The reserve will form part of a larger protected area under CapeNature as soon as the biodiversity offset has been finalised.
This is a unique arrangement, as this land was originally purchased with an intent to mine. Activities thus far have included: fixed point photography monitoring; daily monitoring and patrolling of the site; clearing of a historical waste dump on site; and initiation of an Eco-Club consisting of learners from the surrounding schools and communities.
- The arrangement is unique in that it is an example of a major industrial/mining company investing CSR capital into a conservation project on land that they own that was originally purchased with the intention of mining.
- The site is also the first industrial/mining site to enter into a stewardship agreement, and additionally the highest level of protection: Contract Nature Reserve.
- The project also aligns with ideals of empowerment of the local community, by educating, enabling and employing members of the local community.
Natural Resource Management:
Our natural resource management project that was started in March 2013 funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) was successfully completed in April 2016. The project’s main goal is using alien vegetation clearing as a tool for job creation, restoring natural ecosystems and community development.
In the last few years, we could easily reason that the DEA has provided us with just that. We have cleaned approximately 2957, 56 of initial clearing and 1026 of follow-up. Visible changes could be seen all over in the Biosphere reserve in areas such as Mamre, !Kwa-ttu, Darling, Riverlands, Chatsworth and Atlantis. The project also enabled many people of the local community in terms of job creation and education.
A vital part of the programme set out in the Norms And Standards (NAS) by the DEA is to educate/equip beneficiaries with necessary skills to be able to execute tasks that include training such as: Health and Safety, herbicide applicator , first aid , HIV and AIDS awareness, basic fire fighting , chainsaw and brush cutter operator courses.
Therefore, we just want to thank the DEA for the vital role in empowering our local community and look forward to continuing our relationship.
The CWCBR in Lima, Peru:
From 14-17 March 2016, our conservation manager Ryno Pienaar represented the CWCBR at the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Lima, Peru.
It was organised by the Secretariat of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB), the ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM) and its National Service of natural areas protected by the state (SERNANP), and the MAB national committee of Peru.
The congress, which for the first time took place outside Europe, brought together more than a thousand representatives of government ,Biospheres reserves, local communities, agencies, NGO’S, academic institutions, and organisations and institutions from 115 countries with the MAB Programme.
The CWCBR continues to give and grow...
We here at the CWCBR believe that it is of utmost importance to continuously educate our youth and raise the awareness of Environmental issues. Therefore, we are involved with several environmental awareness projects on an ongoing basis such as recycling competitions in Schools, excursions events such as tree planting days, commenting on land use and mining applications, conservation advice to landowners etc.
During April 2016 we took the youths of St. Andrews Primary school on an excursion to a nearby reserve in Jacobsbaai. The excursion was an incentive for the youth that was actively taking part in recycling SWOP shop initiative currently operational by the Primary Schools in collaboration with the CWCBR.
In 2015 we took our future generation on an excursion to the Lafarge quarry to educate them on what mining is and to introduce the concept of sustainable development.
In strive to strike a balance between development and the environment, we also taught the youths of the Saldanha area how to plant a tree and the importance thereof.
In September 2015 a joined planting effort between the Saldanha bay Municipality, SANDF, SAN parks and the CWCBR. Approximately 100 trees were planted throughout the Saldanha community to emphasise the vital role trees play in the greater ecosystem.
ANNUAL REPORT OF HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2011
FINANCES AND PERSONNEL:
In 2011 a further R2 159 376.12 was leveraged for projects and office administration. The CWCBR furthermore brought in over R1 500 000 in revenue to the Region. The personnel of the CWCBR now include a Chief Executive Officer, a Conservation Manager, two Conservation Officers, an Administration and Tourism Officer, one Trails Manager, one Trails marketing officer/guide, one further guide, a Trails media officer and two bursary holders.
Sadly we said goodbye to our Office Adminstrator, Chantel van der Merwe and Michelle Baatjies, whose contract came to its end. The Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve wishes them well in their future ventures.
We amalgamated the positions of Tourism Officer and Administrator Officer into the position of Administration and Tourism Officer, and we welcome Val Priestley into this new position. We furthermore decided to amalgamate the Darling and R27 Tourism Hub offices, where our new and final office is now located at the R27 Tourism Hub. This has allowed us a savings of over R4000 per month and R48 000 per annum. The only difficult change that has resulted from this move is that we now have a different office telephone number, which is the original R27 hub telephone number.
It has been an exciting year of accomplishments and growth and thanks go to all the Director’s who continuously devote their time and efforts to the cause, as well as to the dedicated and committed staff of the CWCBR.
A number of projects were finalized in 2011 and will be discussed briefly:
A)Global Environment Fund Fynbos Rehabilitation Project:
This project was funded through the Global Environment Fund and was a partner project with !Khwa TTu t to the value of R350 000 and includes the eradication of invasive alien bushes and trees that have overrun this area, and the re-introduction of plant species that grew naturally in the area before the land was utilized for farming purposes. The second part of the project involved the setting up of an indigenous garden trail which displays a collection of edible and medicinal plants, which were used by the extinct |Xam of the West Coast. The trail has been successfully completed and is already generating income. The indigenous nurseries have started generating income as well and have created enormous interest amongst the San community and children, having far greater results that we had hoped, and over 50 hectares of alien vegetation have been cleared, providing jobs for a team of 15 people for the project duration.
B) Small Grants Fund:
The WWF has funded a Small Grants Fund, positioning the CWCBR to be an umbrella organization to the smaller NGO’s, Community Based Organisations and Co-operatives in the region for a funding source. The Micro Grant Project received 67 project applications from its call for proposals. Of these, 15 were selected for approval. The others included 20 applications for food gardens, 10 for trees or plants for greening their community or stabilizing river banks, and 5 projects were submitted to their local municipality for support as they were outside the criteria of the Micro Grant requirements. The unsuccesful micro grant project applications that included requests for trees or plants were made available to the District Municipality and their requests granted through a “tree/plant fund”. 12 Projects were supported in this way over and above the 15 approved projects. The value of the support provided by the West Coast District Municipality extends to approximately R30 000 as a direct result of the Micro Grant Project. Most of the projects supported through the “tree/plant” fund were to “green” the local communities by planting trees down the roads and at strategic locations – thus benefiting each entire community through improving their quality of life.
A webpage was designed showcasing the 15 projects and a coffee table booklet was published showcasing each of the projects. It will be distributed to all the major donors as well as to our key partners.
The following projects are all ongoing:
C) The Flagship Trails and Tourism Programme:
This project began in 2008 when Silimela Consortium was awarded the contract and appointed to undertake the feasibility study of the Trails and Tourism Programme. In 2009 various activities were achieved to ensure continuity of the project towards completion. This included signing of MOU’s with landowners to secure access rights, some marketing in magazines, and engaging Fiona McIntosh, Editor of the Out There Magazine and author of Slackpacking: A guide to South Africa’s top leisure trails; her photographer Shaen Adey; and Frank Dwyer: owner of Slackpacking South Africa to feature the trails in Fiona’s 2nd Edition, which was launched in November 2010.
In 2010, approval had been provided from the Lotto Board to fund the implementation of this entire project to the value of R3, 400 000.00. 2011 saw the first payment tranche from the Lottery and a host of activities resulted. The end result is the employment of 3 Trail guides, over 15 trails with paying clients have been completed, Eve’s Trail as well as the Darling Stagger were successfully launched and have become Green Flag Accredited, 80 bookings have been received with an income of over R120 000 to date; 80 new members to the CWCBR and R8 000 in revenue to the CWCBR, the project has contributed nearly R80 000 to CWCBR operational costs and nearly R450 000 to the CWCBR and local service providers.
In terms of marketing, the project has created a Trails Portal; Umbrella Trail brand as well as individual Trails brands that are linked to the CWCBR brand; a growing database of nearly 1000 potential clients and existing customers; Trail business cards; and bi-monthly newsletters are distributed to our entire database. In terms of Social media we now have a Face Book page as well as a Cause page, a Twitter as well as a Flickr account – these are mediated by a disabled person under guidance from Rob of Nautique and Janette.
In terms of our broader Tourism achievements, the Director Tourism now Chairs the Regional Tourism Board, providing a supporting role to the broader region with respect to the CWCBR and tourism partnerships and the R27 Tourism office receives funding from Swartland, Saldanha and the West Coast District Municipalities showing that the CWCBR is playing an integral role in the broader tourism arena.
D) BIONET project: stretching from Melkbosstrand and the Blaauwberg Conservation Area to the Koeberg Nature Reserve, into Mamre, and Atlantis:
This project, which entails a partnership between the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, the City of Cape Town and Cape Nature and which is the largest project ever funded by the TMF has successfully achieved securing land for conservation with over 2369 ha of key conservation land being negotiated since inception in early 2010.
The sites include:
- Nirvana: 15ha secured
- Tydstroom: 34ha secured
- Kanonkop: 20ha secured
- Dassenberg: 400-600ha
- McGregor: ~35ha this is outside the City, but part of the project. It borders onto Dassenberg and thus also part of the Riverlands to Coast Corridor
Nirvana is a City Agreement, Tydstroom a Biodiversity Agreement and the rest all Nature Reserves. The latter four have all given us a written commitment that they will sign up their land in perpetuity. We have also secured alien clearing assistance for all these sites already.
The project is currently working on about 1700ha of State owned land, but this is not secure yet, but is in the process.
E) Communication Project:
The CWCBR facebook page has over 90 friends and is regularly updated by personnel. This is directed at raising the awareness of computer literate and active individuals internationally; as well as to provide an avenue for interaction between different Biosphere Reserve sites for a discussion forum and interactive assistance between Biosphere Reserve managers internationally. Regular contact is made with other Biosphere Reserves through Facebook with specific reference to Canada.
Bi-monthly newsletters are now being distributed to all our stakeholders, a presentation was provided to the Darling Boerevereniging and local awareness raising took place through hosting a stand at the Darling Wildflower show in September. Much of our communication that took place in 2011 related to the trails and e-promo’s were regularly sent out to our entire database.
The R27 Tourism Hub has contributed enormously to raising the visual awareness of travelers and local stakeholders to the CWCBR and we hope to use this platform in a far greater manner in the future as a communication tool.
F) Stewardship Industrial Corridor Project:
This project was initially funded by the World Bank, which ended as of August 2009. Further funding was sourced to the value of R710 000 from the Table Mountain Fund to secure the position of the Stewardship Officer for a further 3 years to complete this corridor.
The Corridor Project has resulted in the following proactive conservation gains:
Arcelor Mitta has agreed to put +- 1 425 ha into conservation. Proactive Conservation Area will benefit South Africa in the form of assisting in meeting the following DEA Targets for vegetation types:
- Saldanha Limestone Strandveld Endangered: +-22.4% of 25% target
- Saldanha Flats Strandveld Endangered: +-5% of 25% target
- Langebaan Dune Strandveld Vulnerable: +-3.7% of 25% target
- Cape Seashore Vegetation Least Threatened: +-2.9% of 25% target
- Namakwa Sands is currently negotiating 300 ha total to be conserved where the total property has Saldanha Limestone Strandveld Endangered: +-11.2% of 25% target
- Saldanha Flats Strandveld Endangered: +-3.7% of 25% target
In the Saldanha Peninsula:
All contract nature reserve stewardship documentation has been completed and reviewed and is in process with CapeNature proclamation (final submission to CapeNature 11 March 2011) AfriSam project has achieved the following: Continuation of one year pilot project – employing two conservation field officers and operational costs who undertake alien clearing on properties Purchased vehicle. Environmental Education project with four local schools – eco-club. Alien clearing project at AfriSam quarry near Diazville. Two contracts, 1-2 weeks each – temporary local employment 11+14=25 people. Partnership with CREW. Includes plant monitoring project and eco-club as well as CREW field trips. Skills transfer This site has resulted in 522 ha of Saldanha Limestone Strandveld being included under formal conservation status, classified as Endangered, of which only tiny fragments are currently formally conserved (in the West Coast National Park), totaling 0.2 % of the total extent of the vegetation type. The AfriSam Reserve will be able to contribute 58.53% towards the national target of 25% (as designated by NBSA for all vegetation types) for conservation of Saldanha Limestone Strandveld.
Nature reserve (Entire property): 190 ha
Saldanha Limestone Strandveld Endangered: +-17% of 25% target Saldanha Flats Strandveld Endangered: +-0.2% of 25% target and numerous threatened Red List species
Jacobsbaai Tortoise Reserve:
Nature reserve (Entire property): 190 ha
Nature reserve (Entire property): 250 ha with Saldanha Limestone Strandveld: 28.04% of 25% target and Numerous threatened Red List species.
Riverlands Expansion Strategy/Darling Hills:
Contreberg is a Voluntary Conservation Area: 55 ha with Swartland Granite Renosterveld (Critically Endangered).
Total conservation gains through this project amount to 2220 Ha of endangered and critically endangered vegetation in 2011.
G) Awareness, Education and Training:
In 2011 the CWCBR hosted one student intern from Germany and has provided bursaries to two students from the Atlantis, Mamre area, who are attending the Cape University of Technology.
Four Landcare camps have been held in 2011 so far, with another 2 to follow before end December. This project is an ongoing successful partnership with the Department of Agriculture and by December over 150 children and 10 teachers would have participated and completed these camps within 2011. Temporary jobs are also created through this project, capacitating local people in environmental education. A Landcare training camp furthermore capacitated our local facilitators, developing their skills further for job opportunities.
The CWCBR has provided a number of talks and lectures to international as well as local masters students; community groups; school groups; other international Biosphere Reserves; as well as local clubs and Ratepayers associations. The CWCBR provides an annual 3-hour lecture to the final Civil and Chemical Engineering students as well as the Master’s students in Sustainable Development at the University of Stellenbosch, reaching over 1000 key students per annum.
H) Alien Clearing for Agriculture:
Contracts to the value of R1 000 000.00 were signed with the Department of Agriculture allocated to alien clearing projects in the CWCBR region and community job creation and capacity building. The alien-clearing project is being managed well and payments are processed through the CWCBR. Over 50 jobs have been created and approximately 120 ha have been cleared since 1 March 2010. This alien clearing is taking place on privately owned land, through which the CWCBR is directly benefiting farmers in the region.
The University of Stellenbosch is undertaking a study on Indicators for Sustainable Development of Biosphere Reserves, which will be completed during 2011. This relationship has strengthened through this project and further research is currently being identified for future support.
J) Membership Strategy:
The membership strategy has been completed and has “gone live” with the entire exciting process. The implementation of the Trails and Tourism project has been used to harness benefits through our partners into the member beneficiation component of this strategy and the CWCBR now has 80 new members through this process. The membership strategy played a key role in securing conservation gains from Tydstroom land, already thereby showing results of success for the benefits of such a membership strategy.
K) West Coast National Park Buffer Zone Expansion Strategy
This is a new project and is only in its inception stage, but it involves the southward expansion of the buffer zone of the West Coast National Park. It has as its partners, SANParks as well as the Development Bank of Southern Africa and buy-in from the landowners was secured at a meeting held on 18 October 2011. The Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve will facilitate this process forwards, once funding has been received from the Development Bank.
2) PARTNERSHIPS as per 2010 have continued to strengthen:
The CWCBR now has the following partnerships through either informal arrangements, contracts or funding:
- The Development Bank of South Africa
- The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning
- The World Bank
- UNESCO MAB Programme
- All the Tourism Bureaus in the region
- City of Cape Town, Swartland, Saldanha, Bergriver and West Coast (District) Municipalities
- The Dutch Embassy
- Exchange Student Programmes
- Table Mountain Fund and WWF
- Department of Agriculture and LANDCARE
- Yzerfontein Conservancy
- Darling Wildflower Association
- MAMRE Custodiation of Rare and Endangered WildFlowers (CREW)
- The Cape West Coast Fire Association
- Global Environment Fund
- Lotto Board
- Private Landowners
- West Coast Environmental Corporation
- !Khwa ttu
- Wilderness Foundation
- Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
3) EIA DOCUMENTS COMMENTED ON IN 2010 BY THE CWCBR
Over 80 EIA applications have been commented on since 2010. All comments are directly incorporated into CapeNature comments, BIRDLIFE SA comments, and/or the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. This has had a direct impact on influencing development within the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve to seek to guide and ensure sustainable development.